By Warren Gerds
“I Do! I Do!”: dinner seating starts 6 p.m., curtain 8 p.m. through Aug. 31, plus noon brunch show Aug. 21, at Door Off Broadway Dinner Theatre in Mr. G’s, two miles south of Jacksonport. $45.95 ($35 Aug. 21). (920) 823-2899. 3 stars
“I Do! I Do!” covers 50 roller-coaster years of a marriage, with young performers playing the couple and a pianist laying the foundation.
Of note, the musical was created by the same team who made the famous “The Fantasticks,” Tom Jones (words) and Harvey Schmidt (music).
The show’s best-known song is “My Cup Runneth Over,” a beautiful picture of time-tested marital love. In this production, it is set up so well that to applaud afterward would break a spell.
The song finds Justin Winterhalter and Melanie Joy Hall at their best. They ooze warmth and tenderness.
Direction and choreography by James A. Zimmerman and piano accompaniment by Cornell Blanchard more than casually assist in this.
“I Do! I Do!” arrived in 1966 as a kind of oasis in the turmoil of the Vietnam War. The show looks back to 1898 and into a bedroom (brightly presented) of a what-might-have-been marriage.
The couple is somewhat well off. He’s a writer, able to support a wife, two children, an ample house and a servant.
What the show says to today’s couples is not clear — except maybe that marriage of any era is not easy all the time.
The man (Michael) complicates his with a huge ego. That a writer would have one is pure fiction. (That’s a joke). Michael has flashes that make him distasteful.
The script nips at Agnes, his wife, for spending too much and being late. Otherwise, she’s the glue of the relationship. She can withstand Michael’s one-time wandering eye.
In a key scene, Winterhalter uncorks the strutting “It’s a Well Known Fact,” about how men age gloriously while women go to pot. Hall answers with “Flaming Agnes,” a hotsy-totsy tune about how much fun Agnes could have as a liberated woman.
Winterhalter and Hall are appealing. They shape the characters and story well. Body microphones help their voices carry. What they don’t have is the kind of voices that can always hold a long note without drifting from that note.
“I Do! I Do!” is tuneful, comic and thoughtful. It has to be looked on as a theatrical take on marriage, fabricated for entertainment value.
Some words from our patrons...
“Dear Mr. Zimmerman,
My husband and I attended your production of “I Do! I Do” last Saturday, 6/29/02. It was one of the best summer theatre plays we have seen in years. We had never seen “I Do! I Do!” before; so the musical was new for us, but we have lived the story the past 50 years.
Justin, Melanie and Cornell were excellent!!! It was truly a labor of love because of the tremendous amount of time and work that you all put into the lovely musical. I was moved to tears when the play ended. I’ve lived every experience Michael and Agnes performed so beautifully.
You definitely captured the essence of married life. Thank you for a memorable evening.
"Attended your production of "I Do! I Do!" last Wed. It was delightful. Enjoyed visit with pianist before dinner. Thank you so much for an enjoyable evening, not to be forgotten."
R. S., DeMotte, IN.
"This is our third visit to Door Off Broadway; we've been here each year. Our experience has been outstanding! The food, service, and entertainment are excellent. We especially like the dessert at intermission - very nice. The staff makes one feel welcome! We're pleased!"
"I've seen off broadway shows from Texas to Kansas to California, and these actors are among the best! Good show!!
Anonymous, Waterford, WI