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Yes, we do love I Do! I Do!

Theater review
by Kevin T. McEneaney
Sat Sep 23rd, 2017

Cary Van Hollen and Jonathan Jacobson

TheatreWorks in New Milford features a stunning production of I Do! I Do!, that 1968 musical comedy which received seven Tony Award nominations— an unusual accomplishment for a play that features only two actors. In this case the two actors, Cary Van Hollen and Jonathan Jacobson, are not only believable, but can sing and dance with that polished patina for which Broadway was once so fabled, yet it is alive in the here and now, tucked away in New Milford at the theater which has just been awarded Best Small Theater in Connecticut 2017 by Connecticut Magazine.

Jonathan Jacobson exudes suave panache and searching reflection as well tempestuous rage and sentimental affection in Michael, the successful, mediocre, romantic novelist who imagines himself to be a serious writer. Cary Van Hollen as Agnes portrays a woman fiercely in search of her identity as she alternately spills enchantment, frustration, and temporary loss of identity.

Amid the comedy, there are tragic moments as the play follows the full arc of adult life’s burden and joys. While the marriage of the two characters blossoms in romance, it turns to the trials of children, boredom, the irritating foibles of each partner, disappointment in children, and the dreary vexation of aging. All of this is molded into witty delight as both actors thread their silvery duets without missing a note or subversive joke. Yes, they are two songbirds in love even when they quarrel.  

Director Brad Blake has delivered an impeccable production, wringing every nuanced emotion from the story and those small, yet delightfully witty songs. Costumes by Lauren Nicole Sherwood are so impeccable that they dazzle. Set design by Bradford Blake and James Hipp are elegant and functional. Even the lighting design by Leif Smith appears flawless. Here is a musical that thrills from opening to closing bow. And yes, the audience leapt to their feet with alacrity with long, wild applause.  

If you missed this Broadway gem in 1966, then you are now of an age that this musical and this production will have exciting appeal. You may be tempted to this production more than once. While the philosophy of this musical remains conservative, it does not shirk the grittier side of life as it argues through song for sentimental redemption and acceptance of the human condition.

I Do! I Do! runs Fridays and Saturdays through October 22. Tickets are $28 ($23 for students and military). There is a special pay-what-you-want night on September 28. Reservation can be made online at theatreworks.us or by phone at 860-350-6863. There is nothing like top-notch theater and it is there in New Milford.