Aug 10, 2010

Ljova, Lubitsch, and Ashland Blogging VI

I was so happy to read about my good friend Ljova in the paper of record. Among the weddings this composing/arranging/bandleading Renaissance Man appeared at was my own, bringing down the house with his wife in a stirring rendition of "Ochi chyornye." (I also hope he doesn't regret having me join him here.)

"Ochi chyornye," it's hard to forget, is also the tune played by the hard-to-sell musical cigar boxes in the marvelous Lubitsch film The Shop Around the Corner. In the cutesy Bock/Harnick/Masteroff musical of the same material, She Loves Me, that pivotal music box and the scene it inspires is duly musicalized, as are many, many, many other moments from the action of this screwball comedy about romance among Budapest shop clerks. It is not, as I've written before, a favorite show of mine, but I have to confess that Rebecca Taichman's well-turned, exquisitely cast production at Oregon Shakes makes as good a case as I can imagine for the show's modest but undeniable charms. The damn thing may work too hard for our affection, but it sure does work. And it's a snug fit for the Ashland rep company, not only because of the many smaller roles in which their comedians can shine (including Dan Donohue, Hamlet himself, as an officious maitre'd) but because the leads themselves are a quirky, quotidian pair, brought to life winningly in this case by Mark Bedard and Lisa McCormick.

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