I Do! I Do!
I Do! I Do!, the 1966 musical by Tom Jones (book and lyrics) and Harvey Schmidt (music), based on the 1951 Jan de Hartog Tony Award-winning play The Fourposter, is a two-character show depicting the marriage of Agnes (Stacy White) and Michael (Fred Buchalter) Snow over the course of 50 years.
In between the couple’s awkward-but-romantic wedding night in 1895 and the day they leave their too-large empty nest for smaller senior-living quarters, the audience is treated to a montage of highlights (and lowlights) of the couple’s married life, punctuated by more than a dozen well-performed songs and lively dance numbers.
In a two-character show, especially a musical, it is essential that both actors are strong performers, and White and Buchalter easily exceed this requirement.
White has a lovely singing voice, and her acting is also excellent as she makes the transition from innocent bride to sadder-but-wiser wife and mother. As Michael, a chauvinistic novelist whose pomposity increases in proportion to his success, Buchalter also manages to display his character’s vulnerable side. Mary Bremer’s skillful direction brings out the best in both actors and keeps the musical numbers coming at a steady pace.
The set, by Kate Southern, consists solely of the couples’ bedroom, dominated by a large four-poster bed in the center of the room. Agnes’ side of the room is appointed with feminine furnishings, such as a pink brocade chaise, while dark wood furniture gives Michael’s side a masculine feel.
Christa Koerner’s costumes are fabulous and plentiful; Agnes’ elaborate satin and lace-trimmed nightgowns are more akin to ball gowns, and her evening clothes are even more glamorous, down to the beaded elbow-length gloves. Except for the striped flannel nightshirt and matching cap that Michael dons on his wedding night, his wardrobe is classy and stylish, especially his satin smoking jacket, two-tone wing tips and elegant cutaway tuxedo.
Diane Ulseth also deserves applause for the wonderful period props, which include a retro red tricycle, a large wooden hobby horse and a vintage pram with oversized metal wheels.
Piano accompaniment is provided by Matt Fillion and Cynthia Pavelek, who also makes a brief onstage appearance as a nurse. Lighting design is by Jon Weaver.
There are a few anachronisms, such as the references to divorce, lawyers and alimony in the early 1900s in the song “The Honeymoon Is Over,” but overall, I Do, I Do! provides a charming behind-the-scenes look at a marriage that manages to survive both human and cultural foibles with humor and heart.
I Do! I Do! runs through Dec. 31, with a special New Year’s Eve package that includes food, dancing and a champagne toast. (248) 788-2900; www.jettheatre.org.
By Ronelle Grier, Contributing Writer