ON THE WEB
STAGE DOOR: A look at the set & costumes for "I Do! I Do!"
NAPLES — The charms of John and Mary Anne McAvoy McKerrow go a long way toward lifting the slight material of "I Do! I Do!" from interesting to outstanding. The duo, married in real life, sing, dance, dip, spin and bounce across the wide Sugden stage and - in the end - produce a solid night of entertainment out of a show that's probably beneath their talents.
Based on a 1951 play "The Fourposter" by Jan de Hartog, "I Do! I Do!" covers 50 years in the life of Michael (John McKerrow) and Agnes (Mary Anne McAvoy McKerrow. Book and lyrics come from Tom Jones, with music by Harvey Schmidt.
"I Do! I Do!" premiered on Broadway in 1966 and serves up an old-fashioned view of marriage that modern audiences might find either quaint or mildly offensive. Michael comes off a cad and the show's one hint that Agnes might entertain a life outside marriage ends with her distracted by a shiny new bracelet. The show's generic marital back-and-forth remains relatable - but modern-day partnerships encompass so much more - and the lack thereof can't help leaving ""I Do! I Do!" feeling dated.
With just two actors, both McKerrows have plenty of opportunities - comic and vocal - to shine, although the first half doesn't truly get untracked until a hysterical "she's having a baby" segment. Then, just wait until Mary Anne McAvoy McKerrow pedals around the stage on a tricycle or belts out "Flaming Agnes" wearing a hat that some poor pigeon died to provide the feathers for.
John McKerrow sings for every father in the audience during "Father of the Bride" and displays a deft touch with the comic parts. Duets - including the signature "My Cup Runneth Over" and the lovely "Where Are The Snows?" speak to love, life, marriage and family.
Director and choreographer Dawn Lebrecht Fornara uses every inch of the stage - built on at least three levels to make the stage feel more intimate - four if you count the bed; there's movement aplenty for a two-person show - and both McKerrows have all the right moves. Watch for John McKerrow's nifty tricks with a cane and Mary Anne McAvoy McKerrow's rambunctious flouncing with a Spanish shawl.
In keeping with the traditionalist theme, Mike Santos elects somber greens, golds and browns for the massive bedroom set, with splashes of color coming via costumes and the soft furnishings. Dot Auchmoody and Rick Foreman's costumes pop out of the background - especially Mary Anne McAvoy McKerrow's vivid royal blue party dress. Music comes from two pianos hidden behind an enormous golden window and tinkled with panache by Charles Fornara and Robin Schuford Frank.
Issues with the show's relevance to modern life aside, "I Do! I Do!" serves up a charming buffet of fancy footwook, bouncing on the bed fun, stumbling up the stair silliness, marriage as a journey that anyone who's every walked down the aisle will appreciate. What "I Do! I Do!" has to say isn't anything original, but the actors - and the audience - have a lot of fun on the journey.
Wedding bells or shotgun shells? My granny did indeed have a gun. E-mail me, email@example.com, find me on Twitter at @napleschris or read my Stage Door theater blog. You can also sign up to receive the Stage Door blog via email.