This weekend, Lansing’s Riverwalk Theatre kicks off their 29th Season with a musical. But the production also features a real-life wedding backstage as well.
No matter where you go, in any theater, auditions are a way of life and the Riverwalk Theatre’s season opening production of the musical She Loves Me is no different. Adam Woolsey is no stranger to auditions there and is pleased that director Meghan Eldred cast him as Georg, the romantic lead.
"So about a week after auditions, we were married!" explains Woolsey. "So, she was my fiancee while we were auditioning and shortly into the rehearsal process, she became my wife. So, it's kind of an interesting relationship and really a fun kind of dynamic to work with, actually."
And director Meghan Eldred, well, NOW Meghan Eldred-Woolsey has zero problems telling her husband just how to be romantic playing opposite another actress.
"It's actually not that difficult." says Eldred-Woolsey through the laughter. "You would be surprised. But we've been working together in community theater for a long time. That's how we met. It's actually easy to tell him what to do."
The musical, She Loves Me, by Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock was written in 1963 right before they went on to Fiddler on the Roof. But the story of She Loves Me, may sound a little familiar since it has been turned into a few movies over the decades.
"The one that audiences might be most familiar with is YOU'VE GOT MAIL which was produced in 1998." explains Eldred-Woolsey. "[It] stars Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan and was adapted by Nora Ephron. But it's been adapted many times and it's been on Broadway three times, including a revival that took place last year. Barbara Cook who just recently passed away was the original Amalia on Broadway, so it has to have a very signature sound. They have to really be able to sing high and clear and beautifully for many songs. Not just 'Vanilla Ice Cream,' which is the one that people know the best. But most of the repertoire that she sings is very high and difficult."
[Musical sample of "Vanilla Ice Cream" from the Original Broadway Production of She Loves Me.]
While the role of Amalia in She Loves Me requires a legitimate and agile soprano voice, sung in Riverwalk’s production by Kelley Lofton, Adam Woolsey’s Georg has its own difficulties as well.
"The challenge with Georg is honestly kind of maintaining his, like, many mood shifts." says Woolsey. "He goes from being somewhat of this kind of confident gentleman in the shop that's very much sure of himself in his capacity as one of the leaders among the clerks to being this very kind of vulnerable person when he's writing to Amalia, or to 'Dear Friend.' It's really kinda challenging to navigate the differences and the nuances between, you know, Georg in his private life and Georg in his professional life."
[Musical sample of the title song from the 2016 Broadway revival of She Loves Me.]
The Riverwalk Theatre’s 29th season gets underway with the musical She Loves Me, runs September 14-18 and 21-24. Visit RiverwalkTheatre.com for more information.