She Loves Me, She Really Loves Me

Last week, history was made when the musical revival of She Loves Me became the first ever Broadway show to be live streamed on the Internet. Through BroadwayHD, fans from all over the world could tune in to watch Laura Benanti hit those high notes and Chuck from Chuck sing. Period. And if you missed it, you still have a couple more days to catch it on demand before it goes away on Thursday, July 7th, which is a few days before it closes in New York.

For $9.99 you can watch She Loves Me in the comfort of your own home, which is what I did the other day and let me tell you it was worth every PayPal penny. Sometimes classic musicals like this show aren’t as enjoyable to me (I just saw 42nd Street for the first time and it’s unsurprisingly (?) anti-feminist?). However, I am pleased to report that She Loves Me is a delightful musical that deserves all the acclaim it’s receiving. Is it the same as being in The Room Where It Happens™ and seeing Jane Krakowski to the splits IRL? Obviously not. Nothing can ever compare to live theatre, but this is the best alternative for folks like me who will never get the chance to see the show in its current production live.

So if you’re reading this before July 7th, I recommend taking a peak of what you’re in for then enjoy the show on BroadwayHD – this sounds like a sponsored post but *bible*, it’s not. If you’re reading this after the 7th, here’s some highlights of what you missed.

On The Verge of Being Catfished

She Loves Me is a 1963 musical based on the play Parfumerie by Hungarian playwright Miklós László – which is why the show takes place in Budapest. Surprisingly enough, it takes place in a Parfumerie where employees Georg and Amalia are constantly at odds. Separately, they are secretly part of a Lonely Hearts Club letter exchange, and they’ve each found love with an anonymous pen pal. Unbeknowst to them, they are in love with each other!

Does this seem like a Catfish waiting for to happen? Absolutely. Amalia doesn’t even know her romantic pen pal’s name. She lit’rally says, “I couldn’t love him better if I knew his name.” Come on. NEV?? WHERE YOU AT? If this wasn’t a musical made in 1963, I definitely would’ve thought Georg was going to be a 16-year-old insecure Reddit user whose Friday night prank turned spiraled out of control.

Also, if this plot sounds familiar it’s because You’ve Got Mail and the 1940 movie The Shop Around the Corner are both based on Parfumerie.

Let Me Borrow That Top

Every single item of clothing worn on stage was to die for. I love the classy era of 1930s fashion, and costume designer Jeff Mahshie did an outstanding job lit’rally from head to toe. The menswear was exquisite but it was all the women’s fashions that had me gagging.

Let Me Be Your Star

17-year-old Nicholas Barasch plays 17-year-old Arpad Laszlo, so it’s really a stretch for him. Arpad is a delivery boy who aims to be a clerk at the Parfumerie and Nick does a great job selling it. This kid is goin’ places, I tell ya.

The Set Design That Beat Hamilton

I am such a sucker for Art Deco, and this set design is so freaking dreamy. The show begins with the outside of the store, and it literally opens up to the inside of the Parfumerie, and that’s pretty much it. There are some other small set pieces that roll in, but the store is the main event. The inside of the shop is so intricate and somehow cozy – it brings you back to the time where you would have to go to a specialty store like this just to buy perfume. For you kids out there, it’s like if the perfume counter at Macy’s had its own store front. These days, the only stand-alone perfume stores are at the mall with a really bored guy trying to pedal gift sets of Britney Spears’ Curious.

Customers Are The Worst

“I’m an idiot. At least I’m an idiot with a job!” 

Amalia and Georg work with a fella named Ladislav Sipos, who is easily my favorite character. His big number is called Perspective, which is basically a lesson in customer service. The lesson being ‘The customer is always right, so shut up and be grateful you have a job’. It is amazing. He serves as Georg’s confidant and provides comic relief throughout the show and Michael McGrath is great in the role. The version of Perspective above is from the 1993 revival by Lee Wilkof, but you’ll get the picture.

Girl Power

Meanwhile, Jane Krakowski is also an employee of the shop, and besides the fact her main motivation is finding love with a man, her character of Ilona is a great representative of Girl Power. She has a thing with her charming co-worker Steven Kodaly, played by the equally charming and talented Gavin Creel. There’s an entire scene where he hits on her and gets her to go out with him and she goes into the splits, and when she finally agrees, he cancels their date in favor of a different date. Ilona is not having it and her song I Resolve is all about not letting a man do that to her ever again. In 1963, this number was probably more powerful than it is now, but it’s still a great example of trusting your “feminine intuition” and not letting a man take advantage of you and bring you down. Ilona eventually finds love and it turns into that Date Auction episode of Saved by the Bell where Lisa Turtle pretends to be a snobby intellectual to go out with the cute smart guy.

Plot Twist!

I don’t want to ruin the entire show for you if you plan on watching it, but just know that as predictable as some of these older musicals can be, I did NOT see one storyline coming, which involves the shop owner, Mr. Maraczek. It may involve another lesson on gun safety.

Zachary Levi y’all

Zachary Levi is the best! For real! Fun fact: this role was originally going to be played by Ted Mosby aka Josh Radnor, who played Georg in the 2011 concert verison of She Loves Me. He had to pull out, and Zach took his place, but turned out for the best because Zach does such an exceptional job at playing this charming, lovesick guy.

Laura Benanti y’all

She Loves Me is the perfect fit for Laura Benanti (who we previously professed our love for), since she is the ultimate soprano. Her voice suits Amalia’s to a tee, and she is so good she makes it look effortless.

Zachary Levi and Laura Benanti y’all

If you’ve seen You’ve Got Mail, or basically any romantic comedy ever made, you can guess who She Loves Me ends. I lit’rally said outloud, ‘I’m into this” re: Amalia and Georg’s blossoming relationship, and I stand by that. These two need to do another musical ASAP.

Show You Should Be Watching If You Aren’t Already: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is one of those shows that you put on a pedestal and expect great things from because it has all the ingredients for your next new TV obsession. Interesting/unique plot? Check. Likable actress as the lead? Check. Tina Fey and 30 Rock crew on board? Check. But it’s very rare that shows like this not only meet your expectations but exceed them. Luckily, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt does just that.

When UKS came on Netflix at midnight Friday, I watched the first episode at 1am and had to physically stop myself from staying up all night to watch the rest of the short 13-episode season. It’s like sunshine crack and you can’t get enough of it. UKS soon was watched by thousands of other Netflix subscribers over the weekend and has gotten a lot of positive reviews from both critics and fans alike. If you’re not one of them, get on board, because this show certainly won’t let you down.

Basic Plot

Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper) was kidnapped when she was in 8th grade and taken by a doomsday cult leader, who had kept her and three other women in an underground bunker. The pilot takes place years later when Kimmy is 29, and she and the other “Indiana Mole Women” are rescued from the bunker. The show centers on Kimmy adjusting to life again as an adult in New York City.

Filling The Void

30 Rock ended a little over two years ago and we lost Parks and Recreation less than a month ago. While some of us are still in mourning for both of those shows, I’m happy to report that while Kimmy Schmidt will not be able to bring back Liz Lemon and Leslie Knope for good, it will help cure the pain. Kimmy is surprisingly positive and optimistic for having spend most of her formative years underground and secluded from the world, and she has the similar ‘Knope We Can’ attitude in life as Pawenee’s favorite political figure. She’s also like Kenneth the Page – actually she and Kenneth would probably get along rull well. Meanwhile, UKS itself has the same unique, “bizarre” tone as 30 Rock had, the same pacing the same joke after joke after joke storytelling style that is so clearly Tina Fey and nowhere else on television. Put those two together and you have a force to be reckoned with in Kimmy Schmidt.

Unbreakable Ellie Kemper

Like Friends and “The One…”, every episode title of UKS ends in an exclamation point. Kimmy Goes Outside! Kimmy Gets a Job! Kimmy Gets Venereal Disease! (JK about that last one) But the exclamation is totally and completely necessary because Kimmy lives life in an exclamation point. When one is rescued from a crazy cult (as one does), you can go in two directions. As Kimmy says, “You can either curl up in a ball or die” or “you can stand up and say, ‘We’re different! And you can’t break us!’ And Ellie Kemper is the perfect person to carry out the latter. Like Erin in The Office and Becca in Bridesmaids, Ellie in real life is just as lovable and quirky and has the ability to make you smile without even realizing it. Her natural excitement for life is shown through Kimmy’s own positive outlook on the new life she has. I don’t think Ellie is as naive as Kimmy, but she has a similar pureness to her. Kimmy is a girl who exclaims “What in the ham sandwich – I just got a job!” Ellie can pull that sort of ridiculous and childlike curse replacement without making it seem obnoxious, and it’s why she’s perfect as Kimmy.

Jane Krakowski Fabulousness

Jane of course has history with Tina, having played the egotistical yet affable Jenna Maroney on 30 Rock, a role that has earned her 4 Emmy nominations. As Jacqueline Voorhees in UKS, there might be more nominations in her future. While not quite as insane as Jenna, Jacqueline is a rich housewife with a son whom Kimmy is the nanny to. Despite the fact that Jenna and Jacqueline have a lot of similarities, Jane (a lot of Js going on) is proving she’s not just one dimensional as an actor. Although Kimmy is the main character, expect a great B story with Jacqueline, especially when it comes to her background.

30 Rock Realness

Speaking of which, UKS is just as offbeat as 30 Rock was. I mean it’s a show based on a girl who escaped a doomsday cult in a bunker. Not the type of show you will see on CBS’ Monday night lineup. And since Tina is still the brains behind the who shebang, it’s littered with her ‘odd’ sense of humor. There’s a new Sabor De Soledad in the Febreeze-like product Buh Breeze, and like Jenna Maroney’s impersonator-turned-husband Paul L’Astname, there are larger than life characters like Kimmy’s roommate Titus Andromedon and Tristafé the spiritcycle instructor. There’s a whole storyline where Titus and his other furry friends band together to go against a swindling costume shop owner. It looks ridiculous on screen, and only this type of show can make it as funny as it is. Speaking of Tituss, he played Da’Fwan, one of Angie Jordan’s crew on 30 Rock, and now he’s getting the role he deserves as Kimmy’s roommate/best friend. As an aspiring Broadway star (IRL, Tituss is actually a Broadway star), Tituss helps Kimmy back into the real world but also provides for some wacky stories.

90s/00s Refs Up The Whazoo

Because Kimmy has been literally living under a rock (of the earth) for 15 years, her brain is still stuck as a middle schooler, so all her pop culture and life references are from the 00s and before, that don’t make as much sense or are as relevant in 2015. And it’s amazing. Some things mentioned throughout the series include, but are not limited to:

  • American Girl
  • Light up sneakers
  • Moesha
  • “As If”
  • Tamagotchi
  • “Opposite Day”
  • Mavis Beacon
  • Frasier
  • The Breakfast Club

Cults

If you’re into like, learning about Scientology or the Illuminati or true crime or the Duggars, just watch this knowing it could be real and you’ll love it. The leader of the Mole Women cult is a guy named Richard Wayne Gary Wayne (classic Fey), and they’re actually dressed like they could be a Duggar. Naturally, they’re odd and have been taught weird things but also do normal activities like have secret santa, because, priorities.

Netflix to the Rescue

uks

Tina and her 30 Rock partner Robert Carlock originally had a deal with NBC, but the UKS pilot wasn’t picked up to series. Luckily, not only did the fine folks at Netflix pick it up, they picked it up for a second season. As you can imagine, this is good in a number of ways for UKS – not only have they already known their fate, they can undoubtedly be a little more risque on Netflix as opposed to network television, which is saying something, because Tina’s crew is the one that brought you hard-hitting comments on sexism and race couched in comedy, James Franco’s infatuation with his Japanese body pillow, Margaret Cho as Kim Jong-il who kidnaps a popular U.S. newsanchor, and a pornographic video game, among others. Netflix will be different. Better different.

 Theme Song

I’m not even going to link to it because when it first appears in the pilot it happens so naturally and it was one of those moments when a light bulb with heart eye emojis appeared over my head and I knew I was going to love the show. Plus when you binge watch, it gets stuck in your head.