By Kari Boldon Welch

Chances are that most of us are familiar with the plot at the center of She Loves Me, the 1963 musical that ran for over 301 performances on Broadway. The musical, based on the 1937 play The Parfumerie by Hungarian playwright Miklós László, was reinvented into the 1940 film The Shop Around the Corner starring Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullivan and then again into the 1998 movie You’ve Got Mail with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.

The story centers around Georg (Henry Morton) and Amalia (Claire Kepple), co-workers and rivals at Maraczek’s Parfumerie. Both Georg and Amalia have a secret pen pal, secured through “a lonely-hearts club.” Each feels they have found their perfect match through this exchange of letters even though they have never met in person. The revelation that they are each other’s penpal should come as a shock to them, as their working relationship at Maraczek’s is more than a little prickly.

Georg and Amalia are supported and encouraged by their co-workers, who include benevolent store owner Mr. Maraczek (Chris Ridgley), the dependable delivery boy Arpad Laszlo (Shirlanna Shoop), the fretful yet levelheaded store clerk Ladislav Sipos (Reece Miller-Reynolds), and the resident playboy Steven Kodaly (Hayden Shoop) who strings along the ditzy store receptionist Ilona Ritter (Bella Morton). The cast is rounded out with ensemble characters played by Bruce McCarthy, Rob Roberts, Adam Kelly, Kelli Langlands, Flora Stubbert, Maya Swartz, Audrey Nowacki, Junie Spear, and Maida Belove.

Henry Morton, though youthful in appearance, gives a strong and charming performance as Georg, delivering spot-on comic timing. Claire Kepple is effervescent as Amalia with a voice that soars to operatic heights. Bella Morton gives a strong, spicy performance as Ilona. Shirlanna Shoop’s Arpad is spunky and adorable.

Director Karen Olsen has incredible attention to detail. From gorgeous costumes to masterful and surprising props, this is a well-thought-out production. Comic bits are precise and delightful. The character development can be seen right down to the ensemble. The staging utilizes the small, odd space of Actors Cabaret masterfully. Though the production is a hefty three hours long, tight pacing makes it feel much shorter.

The set design by Amy Hildebrandt is versatile and a great use of space that utilizes sliding panels at the back to reveal the perfumery. Adam Kelly’s choreography is detailed, precise and fills the small stage with each number, bringing out the best in each performer.

The Non-Stop Players, a resident company at Actors Cabaret, got its start in the years when COVID-19 limited all theatrical efforts, and it has steadily ramped up production and support since then. It is not the only new theater group to sprout up in recent years.

Though Eugene boasts a handful of established theater venues, perhaps gaps exist in our theater community. Groups like The Non-Stop Players, Narrow Shoes Productions, Pegasus Playhouse, and Capital T Theatre are offering new spaces and places for theater-makers young and not so young to expand their artistic wings and offer audiences alternative and expansive programming.

Even our oldest theatrical establishments had to have a starting point so take a chance on The Non-Stop Players as well as many other new startups. Delight and surprises await. You might just fall in love with a new theater group.


More showtimes for She Loves Me
When: Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 2-3 and 9-10; Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. on Feb. 4 and Feb. 11; doors open 90 minutes before showtimes; dinner or brunch available by reservation
Where: Actors Cabaret of Eugene, 968 Willamette St.
Details: Directed by Karen Olsen (Music by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, Book by Joe Masterhoff)
Tickets: $19-$60, depending on show-only or show-and-meal options; available online at, or by calling 541-683-4368