“I Do, I Do” at Legacy Theater Shows Idealized Marriage

Posted by

 I Do, I Do is opening Branford’s Legacy Theatre’s second season, running through Saturday, May 13. It can be a sweet show about an ordinary marriage.

The musical by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt (who wrote The Fantasticks) opened in 1966 starring Robert Preston and Mary Martin – two high-powered stars, running for over two years. I even recall an excellent production in 2010 at Westport Country Playhouse directed by Mark Lamos and starring Kate Baldwin and Lewis Cleale.  “My Cup Runneth over with Love” had numerous recordings.

It tells the story of a marriage from 1898 to 1925 beginning on the couple’s wedding day and proceeding until, 27 years later, they move out of their house leaving it to a new young couple.

The show is the musical version of The Fourposter by Jan de Hartog which had a successful run on Broadway in 1951, starring Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn (married in real life), a movie in 1952 that starred Rex Harrison and Lilli Palmer (married at the time) and a later TV presentation that also starred Tandy and Cronyn. 

Nothing beyond the ordinary occurs — pre-marriage and marriage night jitters, two children, normal spats, some boredom, and disappointments. Once the children marry, there are questions about each’s purpose in life and some graceful aging.

It can sound unexciting and very much like a “Hallmark” movie; saccharine even.

In the right hands though, it can be a gentle, affecting and reaffirming love story. But it requires performers who can make the age adjustments, have voices that blend well and create chemistry between the two.

I wish I could say that the production opening the Legacy Theater’s second season has all of this. Unfortunately the flaws in the production – which I saw very early in its run – emphasize how out-of-date the show seems.

Director Kevin Michael Reed seems to have decided to stress the humor in the piece. But this takes away from the underlying romanticism of the show.

Al Bundonis and Stephanie Stiefel Williams, who play Michael and Agnes, have impressive credentials. She handles both the ballads and the more comic numbers well and some of her scenes are touching. In the second act, her rendition of “What Is a Woman” was quiet and real.  Bundonis had more difficulty with the music, though he does more of the dancing. Yet he scored with “It’s a Well Known Fact” even if it will elicit groans from women in the audience at its stereotyped views of older women.

Jamie Burnett has done a good job creating the bedroom that is the one set – even though props make it seem like other locations as well. I perhaps would have liked a real four-poster for the bed, but that is a quibble. Burnett also did some effective lighting. Callie Liberatore handled the props that are an essential part of the show. They help establish the time periods.

Costumes by June Gold varied – some were absolutely terrific, particularly those for Agnes, while others didn’t quite measure up. While this is small cast show, multiple costumes are needed to represent the different eras of the musical. Gold suggested the time periods which was very helpful.

Musical direction by Cathyann Rodding and three other musicians manage to sound like a large ensemble.

Jen Buonfiglio & Company did the choreography. It is limited to a soft show number or two and a few ballroom dance moves.

Old married couples will definitely smile at some of the common marital traps that Michael and Agnes fall into. Younger couples may vow that they never would make those errors. Little do they know.

Jones and Schmidt’s music is tuneful and hummable. While you may not recognize the numbers, you will find a good blend of the slightly humorous (“Nobody’s Perfect”), sentimental (“Together Forever”), and touching (“Roll Up the Ribbons”).

For tickets visit LegacyTheatreCT.org

This material is courtesy of Shore Publications and Zip06.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s