Regional Reviews: San Jose/Silicon Valley
Also see Eddie's review of Valley of the Heart
With only a couple of songs that bear any resemblance to ones modern audiences have probably heard, and a book chockful of clichés and stock comedic events often associated with marriages, I Do! I Do! is certainly not one of the great musicals of the twentieth century. However, there are enough pleasant tunes and possible chuckles (including some real groaners) to make this relic of a musical interesting, if not particularly compelling, to the present-day audience.
Agnes (Irene Trapp) and Michael (James Creer) sing of "a strange new world you enter when you say 'I do'," as they tie the knot in 1898. Their first, awkward night in bed ends in a duet of "Good Night" topped by a kiss that only comes after a clever, wifely ploy to test Michael's breath quality. The next morning, a now virile-feeling husband sings exuberantly, "I Love My Wife," while the two dance on top of the bed and around the room in their nightgowns, including doing a nice soft shoe routine without the shoes. As in any marriage, the honeymoon bliss only lasts so long as babies arrive, disappointments mount, and occasional boredom of waking next to the same person year and after begins to set in.
There are times when the roller coaster ride of a relationship is at its peak, as expressed in one of the musical's best-known (and this production's best-delivered) songs, "My Cup Runneth Over." But in the valleys of marriage, the lists of things not working and irritating about the other person also take over, as sung by the couple in "Nobody's Perfect." Agnes must endure some jabs from her husband that today sound especially atrocious, such as in Michael's cocky "A Well-Known Fact" when he sings, "Men of 40 go to town while women go to pot." Agnes responds in one of Ms. Trapp's best songs, "If I am going to pot, this pot's going to be hot," as she slinks sexily and defiantly about in "Flaming Agnes."
After "The Honeymoon Is Over" ends act one, the ups and downs continue in act two without much new happening story- or song-wise, except for watching two people eventually age, mellow, and decide they probably do in fact love each other after all.
Doug Baird directs this I Do! I Do! mostly on the straight and narrow, orchestrating two characters who easily could have been those in a black-and-white TV sitcom in the late '50s - early '60s. While both actors provide solid enough performances in song and acting, there is not the kind of sizzle and electricity between them that lead to many memorable moments. The script's humor too often comes off as tired and dated even when delivered with a good college try by both actors. Their songs are nicely delivered but are mostly soon forgettable.
Joe Cassetta, Esther Goes, and Harley Goes make good use of the Tabard stage to produce a master bedroom that works well for its fifty years of use. Amy Roberts keeps the decades ticking by with costumes that fit the passing years and especially makes the couple's formal nights out quite jazzy with the gowns Agnes wears. Samuel Cisneros and Doug Forsyth accompany songs and transition scenes and time with delightful musical support.
For an audience of a certain age, the Tabard production of I Do! I Do! is likely to be an enjoyable, probably nostalgic couple of hours that leaves them with some smiles, thinking about yesteryear. For history buffs of the American musical, seeing the show should be fun as a kind of museum piece as they imagine what it must have originally looked like with Martin and Preston on the stage. For everyone else, I Do! I Do! is an oddity that seems a somewhat puzzling choice for a theatre company's line-up in 2016.
The Tabard Theatre Company's production of I Do! I Do! continues through February 28, 2016, at Theatre on San Pedro Square, 29 North San Pedro Street, San Jose, CA. Tickets are available at tabardtheatre.org or by calling 408-679-2330.