Archive for February, 2019


She Loves Me: A Rough Guide for the M.D.

February 3, 2019

She Loves Me Logo

Before You Start:

  1. Listen to the 1963 original cast album with Barbara Cook. This is truly the definitive version. Listen to the 1993 revival with Boyd Gaines and Sally Mayes. Avoid the most recent revival, not because it’s bad, but because it’s a different orchestration, and if your production team gets those ideas in their head, you will wind up doing more work. If you want some major nerd points, listen to this crazy 1964 Original London Cast
  2. Watch The Shop Around The Corner (1940) with Jimmy Stewart. Even though the show is purportedly based on the original play, the authors really based the show on the film. Masteroff even claimed he never read the play, although Harnick did. Watch You’ve Got Mail (1998) with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. It has some nods to The Shop Around The Corner in it, which is fun. Watch In the Good Old Summertime (1949) with Judy Garland. And watch this little gem, a 1978 filmed version for the BBC.  At the end there is a terrific interview with Bock, Harnick, and Barbara Cook that I quote in a few places in this blog.
  3. If you have access to inter-library loan, or a few extra bucks to spend, grab To Broadway, To Life!: The Musical Theater of Bock and Harnick by Philip Lambert. This book is just wonderful; extremely well researched and sourced, with great insight into the score and the genesis of the work that can’t be found elsewhere. I am tempted to quote the chapter on She Loves Me extensively, but I encourage you instead to seek out the book itself and read the chapter.

Some Background:

She Loves Me is a perennial favorite among true devotees of musical theatre: It doesn’t enjoy a high name recognition among audiences, but among connoisseurs, it is widely considered one of the best constructed musicals ever written. New York Times Reviewer Frank Rich, for example says that the first time he ever walked out of a Broadway musical was when he left another play to rush over and catch part of the original production of “She Loves Me” one last time after it had posted its closing notice.

Since She Loves Me opened, reviewers have fallen all over themselves comparing the musical to food:

Richard P. Cooke wrote

“It is as nice a dish of its kind as a theatergoer is likely to get for a long time.”

Leonard Hoffman called it a

“warm, appealing story dripping of sentimentality like a chocolate drop.”

Howard Taubman wrote,

“A bonbon of a musical has been put on display, and it should delight who knows how many a sweet tooth. She Loves Me has been assembled by confectioners… they have found the right ingredients of sugar and raisins and nuts to add to their fluffy dough and have created a taste surprise.”

George Oppenheimer called it a

‘rich plum cake’,

Henry Hughes said it was

‘filled with all the rich Mittel-European pastry-stuffing of a bygone day.

John Chapman called it a

‘delicious pastry decorated with wonderful intricate dabs and curls of musical frosting’

Ben Brantley called it

“a tasty tale of love lost and found at the workplace”

Maybe the reviewers are clueing in to something Harnick himself was thinking. He said that converting the story into song was “like looking at a raisin cake and plucking out pieces of fruit.”

When people aren’t calling She Loves Me a dessert, they’re praising its jewel-box craftsmanship and elegance:

John Chapman wrote that She Loves Me is

“so charming, so deft, so light, and so right that all the other music-shows in the big Broadway shops look like clodhoppers.”

Whitney Bolton wanted to put it

“under a glass bell and look at [it] with pleasure for a long time”

Norman Nadel called it

“that rare theatrical jewel, an intimate musical that affectionately enfolds an audience instead of shouting it down.”

In 1993, John Simon wrote in a review in New York Magazine:

“The creators of She Loves Me have fashioned the perfect intimate musical. (Perfect? Yes, damn it, perfect)”

Jesse Green managed to combine both threads in two adjacent sentences in his Vulture review:

“I’ve seen She Loves Me, that nearly perfect 1963 jewel box, only four times — it’s not often done professionally — but have listened to the sublime OCR over and over for years. In some ways I know its voice better than I know my own, having learned to hear the world, in part, through its witty, melancholy, and whipped-cream accents.”

To the point we’ll explore in a moment, theatre historian Stanley Green said that She Loves Me

“…will stand as a model in its use of songs as an indispensable adjunct to the plot.”

And yet the original production closed comparatively quickly. As bookwriter Joe Masteroff put it:

“She Loves Me has probably gotten the best reviews of any show I’ve ever written. Reviews constantly would come in from all over the country from distinguished critics; ‘This is the best musical I’ve ever seen.’ It was astonishing because nobody was coming to see it.”

Why does this little musical, which only ran a little over 300 performances, command so much respect? I think it boils down to the extraordinary level of integration, made even more singular by Bock and Harnick’s unusual method of writing, which I’ll explain below. The way the songs function in She Loves Me illuminates character and moves plot forward in extraordinary and specific ways.

But first, some key concepts from the late Golden Age:

Experimentation, Adventurousness, and Opera

The late 1950s through the early 1960s saw the flowering of great ambition and adventurous experimentation on Broadway.  Writers had been flirting with Opera, as Rodgers and Hammerstein did writing roles for opera singers, starting in 1949 casting Ezio Pinza in South Pacific and then Helen Traubel in 1955’s Pipe Dream. Leonard Bernstein was thinking operatically for Candide in 1956 with his wacky American take on European operetta, just as Frank Loesser did that same year writing The Most Happy Fella for opera singer Robert Weede. That score is partly in Italian, and has very little dialogue.

In that spirit, She Loves Me includes one number, Vanilla Ice Cream, that has become a standard song for Opera singers looking for Musical Theatre repertoire. Further, She Loves Me attempts an operatic kind of immersive musical storytelling several times, and situations get musical treatment that would not normally be set to music, like trying to find one’s shoe. In a traditional musical, a scenario like that would not be significant enough to be told musically. But in the experimental world of this era, composers and lyricists were trying to find ways to musicalize anything and everything.

She Loves Me includes lots of examples of the innovations typical of the era, but what keeps us talking about this show is the way the musical aims all the innovation toward the specificity of the characters. We call this connection of song to story integration. The goal of integration is that every song is specific to character and story, that no song is ‘just a song’, and ideally no song could be switched from one character to another or from one show to another.

In She Loves Me, this integration extends musically into every area of each character’s expression, illuminating and informing us about their nation, their city, their occupations, and their states of mind. We hear their most mundane activities put into colorful and specific musical language that reveal character. Again, this phenomenon is not totally unique to She Loves Me. In 1954’s The Pajama Game, a character sings a duet with himself recorded on a Dictaphone in his office. In The Music Man (1957), We hear some salesmen on a train becoming the sound of a train through their chatterbox patter, we hear a young girl’s piano lesson become the accompaniment for her teacher’s yearning song, and we hear a group of gossips turn for all intents and purposes into clucking chickens. Here in She Loves Me, the store sells a music box that becomes the accompaniment for the main character’s desperate attempt to make a first sale and be hired, we hear a 4 note doorbell every time a customer leaves the shop, which becomes a recurring musical motive, and a group of Christmas carolers singing popular seasonal songs help underscore a comic sequence which shows the mania of holiday shopping while simultaneously telling the story of the growing love between Georg and Amalia. These musicalizations ground us in the world of the characters, and that’s very special. But that’s really just one instance of a major feature of the work; a concerted effort to depict the total lives of the characters.

In the New York Times Review of the recent Broadway revival, Ben Brantley perceptively wrote:

“…from the moment the show begins, with a salutation to the working day by the employees of a perfume shop in 1930s Budapest, “She Loves Me” is a sustained reminder of the pleasures of exalted ordinariness.”

Commentators often neglect this aspect of She Loves Me. These characters don’t lecture the audience about who they are in the manner of modern musicals, they simply inhabit their world, arriving at work, filling tubes of cream, selling items and taking returns, managing, hiring, and firing employees, serving wine and waiting tables. They talk about their clothes, shoes, glasses, soap, bubble baths, shampoo, perfume, weight loss, cartons, boxes, bottles, eyebrow pencils, lipstick, snoring, cracking knuckles, male pattern baldness, their schedules, and their sisters kids.  We see the weather change, the leaves and snow fall, we hear a man shoot himself, a kid on a bicycle nearly runs somebody down, trays are dropped in a restaurant, and a bunch of merchandise falls off a table. The writers establish the detail of the everyday world in beautiful and extravagant simplicity and specificity. It’s worth noting that one reason they can afford to craft all this detail is that they don’t have an enormous chorus and giant production numbers to use up all the oxygen. Conventional wisdom tells us this is one of the reasons why the original production failed; it didn’t meet the expectation of the audience for spectacle.

Showing, Not Telling

In contemporary musical theatre, characters would tell you about how they’re cultured or not, but these characters show you. Amalia mentions as asides the following cultural figures in her lyrics, casually during the course of conversation: George Bernard Shaw, Gustave Flaubert, Friedrich Chopin, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Jonathan Swift, Johannes Vermeer, Claude Debussy, Guy DeMaupassant, Alexandre Dumas, Paul Dukas, Raul Dufy, Guilliame Dufay, Daniel Defoe, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Dante’s Inferno. We in the audience discover through her everyday conversation that she is even more cultured than Marian Paroo, who is after all only interested that her beau ideal like Shakespeare and Beethoven.

George and Amalia talk about Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Anna Karenina, Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain, Stendahl’s The Red and The Black, and even Ritter mentions Samuel Butler’s The Way of All Flesh.

Making the Experience of Love Specific

One of the most difficult tasks for the lyricist is the love song. It’s been done countless times, and it’s hard to find fresh ways to express love. Oscar Hammerstein, the lyricist who helped start the trend of integrating musicals, had an oblique solution. (one I’ve talked about elsewhere on this blog) He would write a kind of speculative or hypothetical lyric that doesn’t say, “I love you”, but talks all around it:

People Will Say We’re in Love (Oklahoma! 1943)

If I Loved You (Carousel, 1945)

Some Enchanted Evening (South Pacific 1949)

Or occasionally, Hammerstein would write a lyric that is a philosophical question about love:

Why Do I Love You? (Show Boat 1927)

Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful? (Cinderella 1957)

Sondheim’s answer to the question is usually to draw a detailed portrait of a very intelligent person’s neurosis about being in love, in the form of a flow chart.

But these two approaches intellectualize the experience of love, and abstract the question into the head. Harnick’s approach, especially in She Loves Me, keeps drawing love lyrics into the realm of the physicality of the character and describing the situation the character is living:

Physicality of the Characters:

In the freezing weather of December I’ll be warmly waiting for our date…

I know I’ll drop the silverware, but will I spill the water or the wine

More and more I’m breathing less and less…

My teeth ache from the urge to touch her.

I’m tingling, such delicious tingles. I’m trembling, what the hell does that mean?

My head was beginning to spin and my forehead was covered with cold perspiration

Describing the Scene:

As I sit here looking out the window…

When I am in my room alone…

The flowers, the linen, the crystal I see…

Couples go past me, I see how they look…

I sat there waiting… you were outside…

All these features serve to reinforce the world of the piece and deepen our sense of its reality.

To What End?

So the musical is spending a lot of time showing us a world. What do we see in that world? Why should we care about these people? A distinctive feature of She Loves Me, one that resonates well with a modern audience, is the way each of the characters has to face the invasion of a public persona by a private reality. George and Amalia must reconcile the disparity between their public selves and their literary romantic selves. Ilona must find a way to actualize her resolution to ‘be a different girl’ by leaving the place where she has publicly expressed her workaday identity to explore the romance of a public space of literature and then the intimacy of the private apartment of a man of literary taste. Kodaly is driven only by ego and a possessive sexuality, expressed in a flattering public persona. But when his secret betrayals become public, the flattery is suddenly converted into cutting insults, and we see a dark reality; Kodaly despises everyone. Arpad has a journey of self-revelation; the inquisitive errand boy hides the would-be adult, and his sudden opportunity to be considered for a promotion unmasks a young man who has been scrupulously attentive to all the most arcane workings of the shop. This is most delightfully revealed not in ‘Try Me’, but in the first “Thank You, Please Come Again” in his new position, where Arpad is the perfect ‘swing’, able to seamlessly assume the role of the disgraced Kodaly. Even the Head Waiter in his brief scene has to balance a public persona against a private hell. And finally, Maraczek’s heartbreaking journey in the piece takes us from a friendly and well liked boss to a bitter tyrant, through suicidal cuckold to contrite friend. His journey culminates in a man rediscovering who he actually is, having finally put aside the illusions of his wife’s fidelity and embraced his true self among his real friends as mentor and benefactor. In this way, the secondary characters are beautifully expressing and illuminating facets of the same critical themes the primary couple is exploring. This function of the secondary characters was once the mark of strong musical theatre writing, and She Loves Me is one of the finest constructions along these lines.

The basic superstructure of the story laid out in the original play provides the framework for beautiful storytelling, but it’s notable that almost every instance I’ve mentioned above is expressed musically, and with a great deal more specificity than the source material. Bock and Harnick understand the function and beauty of these interlocking narratives, and they employ sustained and specific integration to execute the storytelling that elevates it above the already excellent source material.

Behind this deeply impressive outer skin is the musical’s superstructure that plays out these same dynamics at the skeletal level.

Interruptions and Connections

As if mirroring the disjunct public and private personas of the characters, many of the numbers in She Loves Me are interrupted mid-idea. Sounds While Selling is of course a screwball assemblage of odd bits of conversations interrupting each other, but that’s only the beginning. Tonight at Eight is interrupted by a table of music boxes being knocked over, Romantic Atmosphere is continually sidelined by crashes and asides, Vanilla Ice Cream is ostensibly a letter aria, but the letter begins 3 times, interrupted fantastically by a meditation on frozen dairy dessert. Grand Knowing You is a traditional showtune that drops its classic melody like a hot potato after one iteration for a series of flamboyant burns in a Hungarian style, only to return to to the earworm melody for a final pass so blisteringly fast it can’t really be processed by the listener. A friend remarked after seeing the production, “Are any of the numbers full length?” That’s by design.

Other numbers are an assemblage of wildly disparate elements. Perspective has 4 distinct (and disjunct) musical sections, Try Me has 6 as I count them, A Trip To The Library only has 3 sections, but they are from different worlds; a Spanish Bolero, a Hungarian cadenza, and a swinging Broadway soft shoe.

These schizophrenic breaks and frenetic pacing threaten to make the piece burst into pieces, but another dynamic is at work. In keeping with the show’s themes of public breaks and private connections, there are many ingenious points of connection between musical numbers; not in the way of leitmotivs, but in much subtler ways, sometimes using musical motives in similar ways, at other times placing numbers as matched pairs in the story, and at several points even literally bridging two numbers with a single gesture.

I attempted to chart below the connections and disconnections in the score. Some of these are just the run-of the mill reprises and scene changes, but other connections are more deliberate and structural.

(I’m having a little trouble embedding images in wordpress. Right click anything that you can’t read and open the image in a new window)

She Loves Me Chart

How Did They Do It?

So how did Bock and Harnick achieve this level of sustained integration, and why does this score sound so distinctive?


After their 1960 musical Tenderloin went through terrible book problems, Bock and Harnick made a concerted effort to be more involved in the book end of the writing process. Joe Masteroff was enlisted to write the book, and although he had written plays, this was his first musical. (He would later write the books to Cabaret and 70, Girls, 70) The collaboration, and Masteroff’s willingness to work closely with Bock and Harnick pushed an already very collaborative process even further.

From a 1978 Interview with Craig Zadan:


Did the show break any new ground for you? From what you had done in the past in musical theatre?


I think very much so. Compared to the shows we’d written, She Loves Me was a totally new adventure. We had always instinctively felt like writing the so-called integrated musical, and this was an opportunity for us to really explore that in depth, thanks a great deal to Joe Masteroff, who once finished the book, said, “take it over, do as much, musicalize it as much as you possibly can. “

He had no ego about salvaging scenes, lines, jokes, his attitude, which became our unified attitude was to absorb most of that play into music.


He had never done a musical, and he said, “How do I do it?” And since we didn’t know how to give him specific directions, we said, “Why don’t you just write a play?” Make it shorter than you would ordinarily, because we’re going to have to fill in the time with songs and with dances.

So he did, he just wrote it, and said, “I don’t know where the songs are, but use whatever you want, and partly because of the nature of Joe’s writing and partly because of the nature of the story itself, the show just called for music all over the place, and in fact, we wrote too much, and  on the road, if you remember, we had to cut, Am I right in remembering about 45 minutes of music?

It’s the process of arriving at that music that I find fascinating. Later in the same interview:


He gave me a tape with a lot of music on it. And by the time I got the tape, I had been studying both the original play by Miklos Laszlo, and I knew the film, which I loved. Joe Masteroff had given us certain scenes, and by going through that, I knew there were certain moments which appealed to me so much, I wanted to start with them, I thought they’d be great fun to work on, I don’t remember what they were. But when Jerry gave me a tape with music on it, I listened to the tape and as almost invariably happened there were moments on the tape that coincided with the moments that I wanted to try and work on…


Is that unusual for your collaboration, up to that point?


No, invariably


No, That’s how we worked together.


At a certain point, when there was no existent music yet for something I wanted to say, Then I would write lyrics first, and Jerry…


To the question, What comes first, the music of the lyrics. In our case for the first half of the adventure, the music comes first. For the probably most important part, the lyrics begin to come first because the requirements become more specific: The needs are words to shape the rest of the characters to express the characters, We manage, fortunately, to be able to work both ways.

Many years later, in a Fresh Air interview, Bock explained how he found the sound world for Fiddler on the Roof:


Jerry Bock, when you were writing the music for “Fiddler On The Roof,” how – how Jewish did you want the music to sound? How much did you want it to sound like Klezmer music and how much did you want it to sound like Broadway music?


It never entered my mind in either case. I knew the ambiance was going to be Russian and that it took place in a shtetl. But I had no compulsion to research either early Klezmer or, particularly, Russian music at the turn of that century or just before the turn of the century. The music that I hadn’t been able to write with all our shows was something that I had silently deposited in my creative mind. And the opportunity to now express myself with that kind of music just opened up a flood of possibilities for me.


What did you listen to when you were writing the show? Did you listen to much music?


Not really. Somehow, as I said, I had unknowingly, unwittingly stored a lot of the sound of it without having been able to express myself with it. I love Russian music. I love Romanian music. Minor is my major key.

Harnick said in another interview about Fiddler:

“Jerry Bock, on the other hand, was afraid to do research. He was afraid some of the music might work its way into what he was doing, so he just called on his own emotions and his own memories of when he was growing up.”

I was unable to find any source where Bock says unequivocally that he did no musical research on She Loves Me specifically, but Bock and Harnick were sketching She Loves Me and Fiddler on the Roof simultaneously, and we know from several sources that Bock was not researching Jewish music for Fiddler, relying instead on memories from his childhood. I think it’s safe to assume that he was also drawing on memories for the Hungarian aspects in She Loves Me, not on research.

One source I found claims Bock’s father was a Hungarian salesman, and he called himself.  “Russian-Hungarian-German Jew, mostly Russian.”.

So Jerry Bock was drawing on his memories of Hungarian music for the flavor of the material he was writing, recording, and sending to Harnick. From that 1978 interview about She Loves Me:


Jerry, how did you decide what kind of music you wanted to write for this score?


Well, the key was Hungarian. The word Hungarian. And, that is, you know, very general, mind you, but it gave me a sound, a shape, the period, the feeling that I began to string melodic notions and guesses around that kind of instinct.

Europeans, particularly Hungarian. Not that all the songs are Hungarian, but that gave me a platform from which to take off.


I would also imagine that, whether this was a conscious decision or not, The word romantic must have entered, because it’s a highly lyrical, highly romantic score…


Well, I equate Romantic with Hungarian.

As to what came first, Bock said in that same interview,

“Our answer has become ‘the book.’ That is the fountainhead. We could work both ways, but the book predominated our thinking.”

In a 2004 interview, BOCK said:

“I, along with Sheldon, I just bury myself in the book, and start to gravitate toward the period, particularly. That gives me a head start in each show. And then imagining the characters in terms of what they might sing, who they are, where they are and what they might sing under certain circumstances. I have no idea in writing of a style because I’m too immersed in the content of what we’re doing, really, and that’s why when I said She Loves Me was our first Romantic show considering The Body Beautiful, considering Fiorello, and Tenderloin, particularly Fiorello and Tenderloin, period pieces, She Loves Me gave me an opportunity to write a Romantic Score, but equally important, a Hungarian Romantic Show.”

I know that’s a lot of source material to quote, but I hope the point comes across: Bock and Harnick saw that the story was set in Budapest, and so began with the idea of Hungarian music, Jerry Bock drawing from his own memories of Hungarian music.

How Hungarian is the Score?

Having established that Bock was relying on his memories and existing conceptions of Hungarian music for the flavor he was seeking out; it’s worth asking the question, what was that conception? What ideas were part of Bock’s experience of Hungarian music? How are those ideas expressed in the musical?

My answers here will be speculative, of course. Bock is no longer around to ask, and in interviews he seems never to have been any more specific than in the passages I quoted above. He was above all, an intuitive composer in both method and execution. (it was his great strength)

In Philip Lambert’s book, he makes a great deal of the famous Russian (not Hungarian) folk song Otchi Chorniya, which was used by Werner R. Heyman in The Shop Around the Corner as the tune played by the music boxes, and by the orchestra in the cafe. He makes the case that a typical ‘chromatic double neighbor tone’ melody as found in Otchi Chorniya appears frequently in the score. I encourage you to check out that chapter. For anyone who hears a similarity between the Russian music in Fiddler and the Restaurant scene in She Loves Me, you’re really hearing the overlap between Romani music and Russian music. (Klezmer ideas overlap here as well)

For our purposes here, I want to look at other ‘Hungarian’ musical ideas that crop up in the score, ideas that would have been commonly known by Americans in the early 60s.

The Style Hongrois

The style hongrois is a vocabulary used by composers in the European classical tradition to evoke the culture of the Romani. (formerly known as Gypsies) Before Bartok and Kodaly reclaimed a different kind of Hungarian music in the first half of the 20th century, this set of musical ideas would have been synonymous with Hungary to the rest of the European world. Composers as far back as Schubert and even Haydn used this musical vocabulary, but it reached a kind of flowering with the music of Franz Liszt, who was Hungarian himself. (although not Romani) Any casual classical music fans in the mid 20th century would also have been very familiar with Brahms’s take on this music, which included his Zigeunerlieder and Hungarian Dances, Sarasate’s Zigeunerweise, and the innumerable Hungarian characters in Viennese Operetta, especially the Cszardas from the second act of Strauss’s Die Fledermaus, which is sung by a character pretending to be Hungarian. Die Fledermaus is the only the most enduring operetta of many that would have been commonly known by the theatre going public, including Operettas by Herbert, Friml, and Romberg, but the trope of the exotic Hungarian was even current enough that it appeared in 1956 in My Fair Lady in the character of Zoltan Karpathy. More on his musical depiction shortly.  

I’m just going to identify 3 basic style hongrois ideas and show you examples from various places in classical music, especially as they appear in Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, which is probably the most popular ‘Hungarian’ piece in classical music. Then I’ll  show how these ideas appear in the musical:

The first idea is a repeated short-long pattern, often followed by a melodic idea. This rhythm is related to the natural rhythm of the Hungarian language.

As it appears in Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2:

Liszt Example 1

As it appears in Strauss’s Die Fledermaus, sung by a character pretending to be Hungarian:

Fledermaus 1


As it appears in My Fair Lady, after Higgins has just told the Zoltan Karpathy story:

My Fair Lady 1

As it appears in Perspective:

Perspective 1

The second idea is a slow polka that speeds up gradually.

As it appears in Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2:

Liszt Example 2

As it appears in Strauss’s Die Fledermaus (it’s not marked in this score, but this passage is always performed getting gradually faster)

Fledermaus 2.png

As it appears in Perspective

Perspective 2

As it appears in Romantic Atmosphere:

Romantic 1

As it appears in Vanilla Ice Cream (with apologies for the hole punch in my score, which eliminated the treble clef)

Ice Cream 1

And a third idea, a very fast scale passage. Liszt loved alternating octaves between the hands, perhaps in imitation of the Cimbalom, common in Hungarian music. Observe this most famous passage of the Second Hungarian Rhapsody; appearing in innumerable cartoons.

Liszt Example 3

At the end of Vanilla Ice Cream, Bock uses that idea pretty clearly, even though he isn’t alternating octavesIce Cream 2.

Non-Hungarian Threads

At some point, Harnick used up all the music Bock had written on spec, or would need to move in another direction not compatible with the music he had provided ‘on spec’ at which point, Harnick would write a lyric first, for which Bock would provide music. I think this is where most of the more conventional Musical Theatre tunes in the show originated.

One way of spotting these pieces is looking for a ‘thumb-line’, longer, slower moving notes held by the thumb of the accompanist within a more active oom-pah accompaniment. This style of accompaniment had become very common in musical theatre in the early 60s.

Here it is in Tonight at Eight:

Tonight At Eight 1

Here it is in A Trip To The Library

Library Example 1

Here it is in Try Me

Try Me Example 1

In Grand Knowing You

Grand Knowing You Example 1

It’s used in a very unorthodox way, but here it is in Where’s My Shoe?

Where's My Shoe Example 1

There is a very small bit of more ‘mod’ musical theatre in the show as well: a one-two-three, one-two-three, one-two rhythm that would have felt more up-to-date, even perhaps self-consciously pointing toward youth culture.

Here it is in 1961’s How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying (watch the accents):

How To Succeed Example 1

And here in 1963’s Funny Girl:

Funny Girl Example 1

In both of those cases, they would have read to the audience as being in a modern style. So it shouldn’t surprise us to find it in She Loves Me in the rhythm of the younger characters in moments of drive and energy:

Here in Try Me, sung by the youngest character:

Try Me Example 2

Here in the title number:

She Loves Me Example 1

And here in the music of the newly liberated Ilona:

Library Example 2

If you’ve followed my argument this far, you won’t mind a closing idea linking these threads:

When writing teams started working hard in the ‘40s and ‘50s to integrate the songs with the story, the position of the lyricist was elevated. After all, songs are integrated in content, which is mostly found in lyric. When the writing process begins with lyric, many structural decisions are made before music enters the equation, unless the lyricist and composer are one and the same person. In this dynamic, composers are left to establish the musical world of the piece as a secondary concern while they try to do justice to the parameters laid out by the lyricist. I think this is one of the reasons the ‘showtune’ has such a strong identity in music of this era. Oddly the drive to make songs specific to character in the lyrics makes them more generic in the music.

But Bock and Harnick’s unusual method of working flips that dynamic on its head. The very first element in their creative process is the development of a musical and tonal world, pulled from Bock’s memories of sounds that evoke time, place, and energy. Harnick, being himself an exceptional musician, molded and shaped that raw material, always aiming it at the specifics of character. Only when these building blocks had been exhausted did they set their sights on more traditional musical theatre fare. This is why each of their shows sounds so distinctive, and why their most popular songs could never have been written by anyone else.

What about the disconnect between the connoisseur and the layperson? I’ll let Jerry Bock have the last word. An interviewer once asked him what the problem was with She Loves Me, why it hadn’t been a success with its original audience. He said,

“There was no problem with the show. I mean it was everybody else’s problem. Sometimes you do the best you can, and you think you’ve done well- you know you’ve done well- and other people don’t agree with you. So be it.”

As You’re Casting:


One of the greatest roles ever written for a young tenor. A very physical role for a good actor with a wonderful song and some great scene work. Requires good musicality and the ability to play comedy well. Should be sung without a lot of pop-musical-theatre mannerisms, something that is unfortunately rarer and rarer these days. This is as good a place as any to note that Sheldon Harnick is a master at writing the young person on the brink of their future. (see Motel’s Wonder of Wonders or Matchmaker for further proof) Bock and Harnick have created a deeply funny and human portrayal, far more sympathetic than the character appears in The Shop Around The Corner. You should hear some of the middle of Try Me at callbacks. 


Arpad Range


A wonderful character role for a comic baritone. Needs excellent diction and good comic timing. Could be played by many kinds of acting singers. You should hear the patter section of Perspective at callbacks. 


Sipos Range.jpg


Baxley, Cassidy

She’s referred to both as Ilona and as Ritter throughout, so get used to both names. This role is often played as a floozy, which is a big mistake. Ritter is no dummy, she has a wonderful character arc that’s fun to play, and the music is more difficult than it sounds. We’ve come a long way from Ado Annie and Miss Adelaide. Cast an actress with a sensual side, but be sure you cast someone who can deliver a complex character.

You should hear your Ilona candidates sing the following passages:

  1. The opening of A Trip To The Library
  2. The very end of I Resolve
  3. The “If he isn’t too handsome” section of I Don’t Know His Name

If your Ilona can’t get through those, you’ll have a tough time getting this show up.


Ilona Range


Cassidy Baxley

Harnick said in an interview that Kodaly was kind of fun to write because he was ‘totally immoral’. In The Shop Around The Corner, Kodaly has few redeeming qualities, but in the musical he is terribly charming and has a quick wit. Your Kodaly should be a charming flirt, but one with a bit of an edge.  At auditions, be sure to give him a chance to sing the middle of Grand Knowing You (for comic timing, diction and ability to stay with you as a pianist) and the end (for the high note!)


Kodaly Range


Daniel Massey Barbara Cook

Needs to be cast with a likeable baritenor. Likeable because we need to still root for him when he acts like a cad midway through the show. Even though he’s the man in the primary couple, this show is really about Amalia. Georg delivers a great story arc, but the main point is that he can play exasperated without seeming unredeemable, to give Amalia something to play against.


Georg Range


The three part chorus of women in Sounds While Selling is potentially a little tricky, but the remainder of the number is not terribly difficult. Only 3 customers are necessary for that number, although if you’re looking to expand your cast, you can double or triple up those parts without damaging the number.You’ll want dancers for the Romantic Atmosphere scene, (but nowhere else) and you’ll want people with some choral chops for the Christmas Sequence. (but nowhere else) These features are part of what makes She Loves Me ideal for a university or small theatre company, but less of a draw for large community groups that rely on the chorus participating fully in the production.


Maraczek should be played by an older actor whenever possible. The number he sings is not difficult, and could even be spoken. But the monologue delivered on the phone, along with the scene at the top of Act II require a really fine actor. And as a corollary to my earlier remarks about Arpad, Bock and Harnick have also given us the greatest portrayals in the literature of middle aged people. Sondheim gave us many examples of bitter, cynical adults. Bock and Harnick give us adults trying hard to make sense of a changing world, but finding a way toward acceptance and grace. Tevye and Maraczek are worlds apart, but are both men who are finding their places in the world of the young.


Maraczek Range


Barbara Cook 1

This is one of the finest legit roles in Musical Theatre. Complex, funny, and tragic, she needs to have a terrific instrument capable of singing Vanilla Ice Cream, and the comic timing to sing Where’s My Shoe. (probably while hefted over the shoulder of Georg) Don’t program this show unless you know you have a very fine Amalia prospect.


Amalia Range


A tenor, but could be mostly spoken, and the high note could be falsetto or changed. Should certainly be able to play an imperious taskmaster, but also has a rather subtle exchange with Amalia that is tricky to play.


Waiter Range

A Few Things to Note About the Music Director’s Materials:

I belong to a Music Director’s forum online, and every so often someone posts about She Loves Me’s materials. Then follows a litany of complaints in the comments about the shape of the score. A lot of Golden Age scores have been restored and re-engraved at this point, but for this show, the score you get in the mail is the same one MTI sent out 15 years ago, which I believe emerged from the 1993 revival. Having spent the last couple of months with these materials, I’ll summarize what I found here.

Most of the score comes from the original production, in a copyists handwriting, with markings that reflect the original orchestration. That orchestration had (as far as I can tell) 5 reeds, 5 brass, full strings, harp, accordion, and percussion. The handwritten score is sometimes cramped or poorly aligned, but everything is there, and it’s pretty easy to read. The orchestration that comes with the rental material is extremely well reduced for a smaller ensemble, but the piano vocal is sometimes miscued now for the larger instrumentation. If the whole score were like this first bit, it would be fine.

Another chunk of the score is professionally engraved, and fairly well! Short passages of Three Letters, Tonight at Eight, I Resolve, Romantic Atmosphere, the Entr’acte, Twelve Days, Thank You Bells, a few scene changes, and the entire Vanilla Ice Cream are executed on Finale or Sibelius. These sections look pretty, but are sometimes frustratingly misspelled, and worse yet, they are not cued at all, so conducting from them requires a lot of comparing parts and score. And if you’re conducting from the keyboard, you have no idea what you’re supposed to play and what is being covered by others.

A third part of the score is simply not at a professional level of copying. It looks very much like it was made on Encore or a lower level copying software in the 90s, and printed on (I’m not exaggerating) a dot matrix printer. What we’re seeing here is a copy of a copy of a copy of something that wasn’t great to begin with. Most of the places where the score does not correlate with the parts come in these passages. In some spots it’s tough to even piece together what is supposed to be happening, the parts will have a whole note and the score a quarter or vice versa; score and parts have scales or arpeggios that go in opposite directions, or parts and score have different ways of numbering the pickup measure, causing the whole song to be mis-numbered. These passages simply have to come from the ’93 revival, because these are also the pages where scene change or underscore sounds like good ‘90s musical theatre, and not like classic 1963.

The orchestra parts are very well done, with the exception of the reed parts in No. 19, which are criminally bad. There are a handful of other mistakes, which I’ll point out where I can. The rest you shouldn’t have trouble catching. On the plus side, these parts are clean and easy to read. As I said before, the reduction is also excellent; everything is covered tastefully. The reed books contain options for every kind of doubling; if you don’t have the alto flute or the oboe or whatever, there’s a transposition right there for an alternate. This is ideal! One word of warning though, from experience; there’s a 2 reed version and a 3 reed version. They send you all those books with your pack. But MTI sent me 2 books for Reed 1 (2 reed version) and forgot to send me Reed 2. We sent that book back, requested the replacement, and a week later, we got a second copy in the mail of Reed 2 (3 reed version). The third time they sent us what we actually needed. Make sure when those books arrive you carefully check which books you received to allow plenty of time to correct it if they’ve sent you the wrong thing.

As I go through the score, I’m going to explain what I found where I can. At one point what they sent is so bad that I’ve posted my mocked up accurate version to help people out. One wishes that the show had been enough of a success in its original incarnation to warrant a mass market vocal score. For now we have to wait for MTI to find it in their hearts to hire a few NYU grad students to fix it.

Going Through the Score Number by Number:

1A. Overture

This Hungarian overture-into-opening scene seems to have been conceived by Bock. Harnick describes the tape in an interview:

“[Jerry Bock] had done the music for the opening, which was an Overture which segued, which just flowed right into the first scene. And it was so charming I had an idea for it that I started, I think that  was the first thing I started working on. But that was a wonderful way for me to get started because I didn’t have to shape the lyrics, the music was there to determine the shape.” 

The first section is really an set of cadenzas followed by a passage of Perspective. First for the trumpet, then the accordion, then the violin.

1B. Opening: Act I

The bass book has an error in measure 45. The last beat should read F, not Bb.

1C. Good Morning, Good Day

If you watched “The Shop Around The Corner”, (and I hope you did!) you’ll note that this song is a musicalization of the opening sequence of the film. To my mind, though, the authors have clarified the action and accomplished much more effortless exposition and character work right off the bat. Arpad conveys a wide eyed innocence and desire to please, although it’s clear he’s very green and naive, Sipos is doing the bare minimum to stay employed, we find out he’s married and happy to have a job, Ilona’s relationship with Kodaly is crystal clear, her insecurity about her age and Kodaly’s expensive tastes and George’s charm is clear. We’re aware of the weather and the work, we immediately know these people. This is the way Golden Age musicals used to show you character. Ironically, it would be She Loves Me’s original director Hal Prince who would revolutionize the opening number with Bock and Harnick’s next show, Fiddler On The Roof, by having all the characters simply introduce themselves and tell the audience who they were and what they did. From Sweeney Todd to Ragtime to Hamilton, that method of ‘tell-don’t-show’ has become very common. But here we’re seeing the new masters at work in the old style.

To Broadway, To Life!: The Musical Theater of Bock and Harnick has a brief but interesting little analysis of the melodic material in this number centering on the use of the 6th scale degree; which will become a central feature of the musical material. I don’t want to steal that chapter’s thunder; you should go look it up. 

Reed 2 (2 reed version) has an error in measure 78. That figure should come on the downbeat of the measure, not halfway through. The Bass book has an error on the downbeat of measure 85, which should read an F again, not a G. The fermata in measure 92 you can see in the piano score is not in the parts. In measure 97, the last eighth in Violin I should read E natural. The rit. In measure 139 does not appear in the parts. Give your players some word cues to get out of measures 55, 66, 82, 98, and 108 in case an actor fumbles.

2. Opening the Shop

The piano reduction for this number is so inaccurate in 2 or 3 places that I redid it. If MTI sends me an e-mail telling me I have to take it down, I’ll do so, but I can’t imagine anyone using it for any purpose other than as a scene change in a production of the show, so I don’t feel any qualms about violating intellectual property. MTI is also welcome to use this reduction in the score themselves if they like.

2. Opening the Shop Page 15

2. Opening the Shop Page 16.jpg

3. Sounds While Selling

I’ll come out and say that I think this number doesn’t really work in the way it was intended, at least not with modern ears. It seems to want film treatment, where we can see flashes of each part of the conversation. But the music itself can’t draw the eye around the stage, so the joke wears thin. Your mileage may vary.

The ending introduces the doorbell- thank you idea, which Philip Lambert points out as another example of the prominence of the  6th scale degree, this time functioning as a part of a planing 6/9 chord.

I would teach the entire melody of Sounds While Selling to everyone and then split the tune up among the singers after everyone knows it. It may help as you teach measures 35-43 to play some chords for context. (not during performance, of course) Db works from 35-39, then play Bbm on the downbeat of 40, and Db again on beat 3. Play Gb on the downbeat of 41, F#m on the downbeat of 42, F#sus on beat 3, A on the downbeat of 43, and B7 on the downbeat of 43. I don’t need to tell you that the doorbell motive gives you each of the pitches the actors need, and that they then plane up and down stepwise from their first note. It may be wise to make that clear from the beginning. I also made every fermata on ‘Madam’ a dotted half note, (basically a 4/4 measure) just to eliminate confusion and coordinate cutoffs.

If you’re trying to expand the ranks of your female chorus, you can double or triple up the parts in the canon and distribute the solo lines among more singers.

The Doorbell idea grew out of a line in Masteroff’s script, where Good day-Thank You-Please Call again appears 4 times. In the original play, “Goodnight, Madam, Thank You Very Much, Call Again” appears 9 times. (This information again comes from Philip Lambert’s terrific book)

4. Reading The Letter

This beautiful underscore is best with just the strings. Our violin/cello combo along with keys 2 playing a string patch sounded terrific.

5. Days Gone By

Amid all the experimental and even operatic storytelling in this musical, it’s easy to forget that Bock and Harnick were also very good at writing traditional musical theatre songs; here given to the oldest member of the cast. We will see shortly that more contemporary musical ideas are deliberately assigned to younger members of the cast.

At the lyric ‘around, around, around’ we hear another example of the prominent 6th scale degree.

Measures 83-102, where the engraving suddenly gets computerized and rather poor, we also get some conflicting signals in parts and score. The piano vocal score has a jazz waltz accompaniment pattern from 87-97, and from 99-102, but the strings (and the drumset I think) are playing old fashioned quarters. Better change them while you’re in rehearsal because it alters the groove the choreographer is working from.

6. Music Box #1

The music box figure should be recorded and played as a sound cue. Our sound designer built a bluetooth speaker into one of the boxes so the sound could be localized. During rehearsals you’ll need to play. I found it oddly difficult to memorize, considering its relative simplicity. If you can memorize it, though, I would, so you can watch the actors open and close the box.

7. You Will Pay Through The Nose

It really doesn’t matter if Maraczek is in key here. Let him pick whatever starting pitch he likes.

8. Music Box #2

See notes above

9. Doorbell #1

Our pit was situated directly above the action in a loft, which made it very easy for me to time my doorbells to the door openings. A sight line is great.

10. Music Box #3

See notes above

11. Amalia’s Entrance

See notes above

12. Thank You Madam, #1

See notes above

13. Music Box Surprise

Note that the key has changed here. If you pre-recorded this one too, be sure you’re in D flat now. The enharmonic spelling is nasty, but it’s not particularly hard to play. Because No More Candy should really be slower than the other iterations, it may be a good idea to start this version a little slower than before to ease the transition.

14. No More Candy

How wonderful that this odd little music-box theme accompanies the simplest of melodies in AABA form, the A sections completely constructed from descending and ascending three note phrases.

Don’t forget that the celesta sounds an octave higher than written, so if you’re playing this on the piano, you may want to play up the octave.

In comparing the piano scores from the two times I music directed this show, I noticed both times I needed to give a note to myself to play slower, and that in measures 11-13 I wrote in chord symbols: C#m/E and Ab/Eb for measure 11, E7/D and A/C# over measure 12 and Ebm/Gb for measure 13.

I think it’s a nice touch to treat the last measure like the music box is winding down somewhat.

15. Thank You, Madam #2

See notes above.

16. Three Letters

This brilliant number was originally a more complicated number called Seasonal Changes. It was extended in the London Cast to include the ensemble more. You can hear that version here at 8:24:

Boy it’s interesting! But not, I think, an improvement.

Jerry Bock uses a delightfully jaunty left hand figure reminiscent of what he would do later in Oh, To Be A Movie Star from The Apple Tree.

Movie Star Example

A true understanding of the charm of Bock’s writing involves appreciating this flavor; a composer like Jerry Herman has a strong harmonic sense, and his melodies are nearly always built around arpeggiating the chords and emphasizing the tendency tones of the very sensible harmony. (hum Hello Dolly and you’ll see what I mean) Accompaniment patterns are just strumming in most of Herman’s songs, though. Richard Rodgers had a stronger sense of what the accompaniment could do to set off the melody, as chromatic interior lines undergird simple and self referential melodic patterns. And Sondheim creates elaborate webs of interlocking ideas in his accompaniments in a dizzying display. But compare Bock’s effortless chromaticism in the accompaniment here. It’s wildly active, but somehow doesn’t distract from the melody, which is only a sing song; something you’d hum to yourself. In fact, the harmony is almost completely static. When you learn to hear this quality in Bock’s music, you’ll marvel at the effortless fecundity that never draws attention to itself.

Reed 2 (two reed version) has an error in measure 41, which should read F# half note, F natural quarter note, and E natural eighth note. (compare piano vocal) Your score also doesn’t have a vamp in measure 50, but the parts do! It makes sense there. Near the end, the drum book has a 3 measure rest that should be a 4 measure rest.

By now everyone knows when they get to their seats that the two co-workers are penpals and aren’t aware of it. But in the original production, this reveal must have been wonderful. The conclusion of 3 letters is such a clever device to make that plot point!

17. Tonight at Eight

According to Harnick, this number nearly killed him.

“I was working on a number for She Loves Me. It was called Tonight at 8. I was walking around New York singing the melody to myself, trying to write the lyrics, and I stepped in front of a truck. The driver slammed on the brakes, honked his horn. I looked up, startled, and then kept right on walking, working on the song. Jerry told me to be more careful.”

There is one pronunciation problem in this lyric, because tete-a-tete doesn’t rhyme with eight if you pronounce it in correct French. So you have a choice: you can say “tate ah tate” at “ate” or “tet a tet” at “et” Otherwise it sounds like Harnick doesn’t care if it almost rhymes.

For (and on) the record:

1963 Original cast: tate a tate, eight

1964 London Cast: tate a tate, eight

1993 Revival: tet a tet, et

1994 London Revival: tet a tet, et

2015 Prince of Broadway: tet a tet, ate

2016 Revival: tet a tet, ate

So as you can see, people have cared more about the correct French pronunciation over time and less whether the thing rhymes or not. I sort of think it should.

I thought I had found a rare Harnick near-rhyme in this lyric until I realized I had mis-identified the structure of the rhyme scheme. Ape does not rhyme with Eight, obviously, but they’re not supposed to. Because the lyric is actually:

In my imagination

I can hear our conversation

Taking SHAPE

Tonight at eight


I’ll sit there saying ab-

Solutely nothing or I’ll jab-

Ber like an APE

Tonight at eight

And it goes by so effortlessly, maybe you missed the impressive triple double rhyme at the end:

If it goes


Who knows

I might




At eight.

You might also notice there’s a cute little closing figure under the last word 3 measures from the end. It’s a prefiguring of the opening of I Don’t Know His Name.

End of I Don't Know His Name

Top Of I Don't Know His Name


Since the lovers’ aspirational numbers are back to back, this tiny connecting fiber is a nice touch.

In the Piano Vocal Score, measure 71 is blank. In the parts, there’s accompaniment. I suggest you make that measure tacet in the band for the sake of bringing the ensemble in cleanly.

18. Tonight Tag

In the parts, this is called Shop To The Back Room. Might want to change that title in the Piano Vocal so if you call the number, they know what you’re talking about. One of the reeds has an instrument switch, so you may want to wait a sec before starting…

19. I Don’t Know His Name

I Don't Know His Name 1

There’s a lot to unpack here. Firstly, it’s a canon followed by a quodlibet. Secondly, the melody is very Lydian, with a prominent #4 scale degree that conveys Amalia’s aspirations well. In fact, the Fi-Sol idea so prominent here will turn out to be the main idea in Will He Like Me! Lydian melodies tend to inflect the piece toward the subdominant. But this progression modulates DOWN instead, starting in G, then tonicizing F#. When the B section begins, the progression is even more unusual, using a descending sequence to work from IV through iii through ii through I in F# major, but then overshooting the I chord to cadence in Bb major, of all keys! A very deft modulation allows us to return to F# major and repeat the process, this time cycling back into F. After the underscore of Amalia’s Monologue, the B section repeats a half step lower than before with Ilona singing the bass line up the octave! The number concludes with a return to the original canon, now a whole step lower than originally. As in the other numbers, Bock has also written an extremely active accompaniment that manages not to feel busy. Oddly, none of this unusual modulation or figuration feels forced or unusual; we accept it as listeners that it’s a perfectly ordinary tune.

Finally, it’s worth noting the similarities and differences with Marry The Man Today from Guys and Dolls. Both are canons, both are about two women dealing with men. In each case, one of the women is a soprano with high ideals and the other an earthier belter who’s seen some things. Marry the Man Today has some nice character touches, as when Sarah corrects Adelaide’s grammar. But I Don’t Know His Name is a far higher level of storytelling. Ilona doesn’t sing any of Amalia’s music until she’s taken Amalia’s side. The canon is a musical depiction of Ilona’s agreement, a dramatic shift which happens during the song. Good musical theatre song placement lands on the point of decision, in this case Ilona’s decision that she should get a library card and expand her horizons. Marry the Man Today takes place after the two already agree. Amalia and Ilona also have deeply distinctive lyrics. Amalia shows herself extremely literate and articulates one of the most important ideas of the musical: You don’t need to physically meet someone to fall in love with them. Ilona’s lyric is far more grounded, but not in the cliches of ditzy chorus girls. Ilona’s concerns are practical. What if he’s horrible to be around? What if he’s terrible in bed? When Ilona finally agrees, she doesn’t parrot Amalia’s lyric wholesale. Her echoing phrases are a realization that she’d fallen into a misconception.

There are some awfully strange errors in the reed books here. I’m referring to the 2 Reed version here. I don’t know if these problems are in the 3 reed version. The first issue is kind of hard to describe: Reed I is supposed to play Alto Flute. If they don’t, a regular flute part is provided. Reed II is supposed to play regular flute. If they don’t, a clarinet part is provided. If there isn’t a Reed II, there’s a bit that the orchestrator has moved into an optional Reed I flute part. So far so good. But it sort of looks from the Reed I book that the optional flute part might be for when Reed II just can’t play flute. (which isn’t the case; it’s covered in the clarinet) Having said all that, I can’t figure out what the orchestrator was going for with the division of measure 12. Also in the last beat of measure 12, 3rd sixteenth of beat 4, Reed I needs a concert E sharp, which you can see in beat 3 of the optional flute part, but which didn’t make it into beat 4. Reed 2 clarinet part is just wrong from 14-16. Wrong key signature to begin with, (should be A major) and then the clarinet part should be a whole step higher than the Flute part is, from 14-16. In measure 19, the last note in the Bass book should be G, not a D. In Reed I, measure 22, the third sixteenth of beat 2 should be a concert B, not a concert C in both Regular and Alto Flute parts. I think beat 3 in Reed II should be a concert C#, not a concert E flat, which wouldn’t make harmonic sense. In measure 31, in Reed II, the first 2 notes should be D flats (concert C flats), and the 3rd and 4th notes should be B flats (concert A flats) These reed parts need a redo.

One last thing:

When I undertook this correspondence

Little did I know I’d grow so fond

Little did I know our views would so correspond.

That’s magical.

20. Back Room To Shop

This is one of the pages that looks newer, but has a dreadful spelling! The last measure is a G6 chord, but the C flat makes it look like some kind of C/G thing. Write a G6 symbol or rewrite the chord.

21. Thank You, Madam

See notes above

22. Perspective

The piano accompaniment doesn’t play easily, but it’s perfection. Sipos has what is surely the most Hungarian music in the show, and he expresses a philosophy you’d find in no other character in any other musical. Obviously, the most difficult passage is the middle section, but I’ve coached it many times and found most people can find their way through it. The trick is to ignore the note values and focus on lining up the stressed syllables with the big beats:

I am only ONE


SEVERal in a rather small per-


And so forth.

23. Doorbell #2

One of these doorbells has been cut each time I did this show. Not sure if that’s a score/script discrepancy or what.

24. Thank You Madam #4

See notes above

25. Doorbell #3

See notes above

26. Doorbell #4

See notes above

27. Goodbye, Georg

Note how we are 27 numbers into the score at this point, and there have only been 4 normal songs where characters simply express their thoughts. All the other numbers have been people shopping or reading letters or doorbells or music boxes. Here the authors have dipped backward into the score to add a layer to an existing number, as the staff mournfully wish Georg good luck.

I think this long stretch of musical shop interactions is the last vestige of a bigger scheme which was ultimately dropped. Sheldon Harnick said in an interview:

“This is a piece that’s not going to be hard to find music for. In fact, we found too much. Everything wanted to be sung. Our initial mistake, which I think we rectified was that we decided we were going to have musical bits. We were going to have songs and developed pieces, but we were also going to have a lot of musical fragments. What we discovered was that it’s hard enough on first hearing to absorb all that music. Then if you deluge audiences with additional bits, eventually the mind will stop hearing. The audience just gives up.”

The trick with Goodbye George is finding the right tempo. I found about 114 to the quarter note worked pretty well. Even though the content is sad, it shouldn’t descend into a dirge. The customer melody is essentially the same as Songs While Selling, down a half step, with a new countermelody for the staff. You’ll have to decide for yourself if you want to try and line up the dialogue with the music as it appears in the score. We found that if you begin in measure 12, it timed out okay without trying to line up measure 33. I didn’t want to have to hassle with conducting the caesuras in 75 and 76, so I counted 2-3 after the first So Long, 2-3-4 after the second So Long, and then on to the end as in all the other times.

28. George’s Exit- Will He Like Me

I found measures 9-12 easier to get through in 4 than in 2, but you may feel it differently.

29. Will He Like Me

Thanks to the internet, we can look at some of the writing and editing process for this show. Will He Like Me is an expansive ballad in the classic Late Golden Age style, a cousin to My White Knight, also sung originally by Barbara Cook. But this wasn’t the first number Bock and Harnick wrote for this moment. Originally there was a number entitled Tell Me I Look Nice, which is much more in the vein of I Could Have Danced all Night or I Look Pretty, although it begins in 5/4!

It’s a lovely number, and it must have been difficult to cut! In fact, Sondheim lists it as one of the “Songs I wish I’d written”. But as delightful as the song is, its replacement is much better. Will He Like Me is vulnerable and specific, and it helps earn the difficult sentiment of the end of the first act. Harnick said in a 1983 interview,

“I never mastered the knack of getting the right idea the first time around. In fact, what I found out about myself was that each draft acquainted me with another level of a character’s personality, so successive drafts made the character more real to me, more three-dimensional, which in turn affected the show as a whole. I always took to heart the truism, “Shows are not written, they are rewritten.”

Philip Lambert goes into some great detail in his chapter about She Loves Me regarding Jerry Bock’s use of the 5th and 6th scale degrees for expressive purposes. I’d like to make some similar points here, with an acknowledgment of Lambert having arrived here first in analysis. I think this is, in fact, where the 6th scale degree idea functions most beautifully. The melodic content of the song is as sophisticated as what Sondheim would be doing decades later. The melody is, in fact, a master class on how to shape melodic contour rhetorically to reinforce the dramatic moment. 

Consider what’s happening in this melody: for the first 4.5 measures of the tune there are only 2 notes; Sol and La. We are hearing a rumination; Amalia is thinking through the most important idea in the show so far: Will she live up to his expectation? When she breaks out of this stasis, she finally ascends the scale up to Mi, (…the girl that he’s imagined me to be?) then on the title of the song, a yearning Fi (#4 scale degree) leading to Sol. (scale degree 5) She’s in the same Lydian mode she was in for I Don’t Know His NameWill He Like Me Example 1The second A section is a direct repeat, again breaking free of the Sol and La at the critical line, “…there’s more to me than I may always show”

The B section begins a full octave above the A section. Sol La is again the key idea, but now it’s urgent, and an octave higher, with an expressive dip down to Re. The idea is then sequenced at Fa Sol, dipping down to La, then closing with a descending scale that again sets up Sol and La.

Will He Like Me Example 2

The return of the A section is identical to the first two, except that it has an extension Do Do Do Re (…He’s just got to) which is just heartbreaking. This is the kind of thing Andrew Lloyd Webber keeps trying to make happen in his tunes but far less effectively. Think of Don’t Cry For Me Argentina, when the tune goes “I kept my promise… Don’t keep your distance.” or “Where am I going to… where am I going to…” in Another Suitcase in Another Hall or the weird “We taught the world new ways to dream” that comes out of left field at the end of As if We Never Said Goodbye

But this little echo phrase does its job wonderfully, perfectly closing the old idea while inaugurating the new one, a bridge that is just as active as the main body of the song was ruminative. “When I am in my room alone” sounds inevitable, because it’s appeared in the accompaniment already in measures 20, 28 and 44. Again the sharp 4th scale degree gives the melody a yearning quality, and when the melody gets sequenced, it moves from G flat major to E flat minor, and takes on a melancholy quality, which quickly passes as we head to a thrilling approach to D flat, a dominant that will bring us to the original B section.

Will He Like Me Example 3

The last A section, beginning at measure 76 takes us through familiar territory, and our two note idea is still the main course, but the melody ends on a very daring La Ti, a beautiful, but dissonant major 7th against the root.

Will He Like Me Example 4.jpg

Amalia has unfinished business at the end of this song. (and just to pique your interest, the unfinished business will be payed off in Georg’s big song in act II) This kind of melodic sophistication is worthy of Jerome Kern and prefigures what Sondheim would be doing in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

Next time I music direct this, I’m going to build a new Music Director part for this song from the parts, because this one is a real mess. There are many places where the note lengths on long notes don’t match the conductor score or one another, so it’s tricky to know when the players will cut off. I didn’t anticipate this being an issue, but I should have gone through and at least checked each part against my score so I had some sense of it. (particularly in measure 85) The piano vocal is also pretty poorly spelled, as in the end of measure 55, where D minor is spelled with Ebb and Bbbs, (surely the left hand should have them too?), and the second half of 64, which really should be spelled A7, not Bbb7, however harmonically correct that may be. You need a courtesy F natural in measure 70 in the first violin, by the way. The reed entrance halfway through 76 comes in on the and of 2, which I think is an error. It doesn’t do that anywhere else in the score.

29. Will He Like Me Scene Change

I wonder whether this is from the 90s. The top of the scene change feels very right, but the ending sounds like the bumper from a cop show, and the quote in the bass clarinet from I Don’t Know His Name feels harmonically odd. Come to think of it, there may be some typo in the parts I never identified. Have a look.

30. Ilona

This number is also a second draft! You can hear the original number, Merry Christmas Bells here:

It’s easy to see why Ilona is a better thought for this moment, but more intriguing is how Bock and Harnick kept the basic idea in the old number as an interlude in the new version. The old version was about the sentiments of the whole room simultaneously, as in Sounds While Selling. But the new version solves a key problem; we need to understand why Kodaly is attractive to Ilona. The old version is also musically static, relying on mode mixture for variety. The final version is very harmonically active.

I have to point out that Kodaly’s melody obsessively (and rather mindlessly) traces an Ebsus chord for quite a long time. This pattern is related to the shop idea, only in 4ths instead of 5ths.


Ilona Comparison

Some of this interlocking 4ths idea is also present in the title song of the show, but Georg abandons the idea immediately to explore other avenues. To Kodaly, this is another in an endless stream of sales pitches. We only see him start to think outside the box when he’s mercilessly ripping everyone apart in Act II.

I found the number works best when you take it at a very fast clip. A moderate tempo requires a surprising amount of breath support from the singer.

31. I Resolve

Bock and Harnick replaced I Resolve with a new number for Rita Moreno in the Original London Cast called Heads I Win. You can hear that song at 22:13

The number isn’t available to use in production, but it paints a much more complicated mental state for Ilona! It’s a terrific lyric with some very subtle double entendre.

There’s something very odd in the score; Lines for Kodaly in measures 6 and 8 that there actually isn’t any time for. The revival solves this problem by eliminating the accompaniment and adding caesuras. If you want to do that, play a Bb minor chord on the downbeat of measure 3, then tacet unil the downbeat of measure 5, where you play another Bbminor chord. No accompaniment after, Caesura following measure 6. Bbmajor on the downbeat of measure 7, then nothing through measure 8. Caesura after 8, Bb major on downbeat of 9. No accompaniment through the downbeat of 10, then play from beat 2 of measure 10 through the rest of the number as written. I do wonder how the original cast did the thing; the lines don’t appear on any of the early recordings.

The off-beat accompaniment is tricky for some singers, and the last 4 measures of accompaniment are very counterintuitive. You’re playing in F minor (?) until you suddenly cadence in G minor. It takes some work.

Again, note how just like Amalia did, Ilona often vacillates between 2 notes as she works through her issues. Note also how Bock has provided the most delightful and unusual accompaniment imaginable. And note how empowered and active Harnick’s women are. As woke as our current musical theatre is, so many of the female characters written in today’s musicals simply wallow in self pity. Ilona’s sexuality gets her in trouble, but she’s nobody’s fool.

32. Ilona’s Exit

Write some courtesy c naturals in for yourself in measures 10, 13, and 14.

33. Street To The Shop

Both times I played this I needed to write naturals next to some Cs here as well.

34. Goodbye Love

I read that there was originally a number called Hello Love that was cut which was in this spot. (I think) I would very much like to hear that number, although it must have been cut for length. The underscore that is currently here strikes me as a 1993 confection. The music is really beautiful, but this way of using Lydian repeated ideas everywhere and the elevated repeating phrases somehow don’t feel like 1963 to me at all. They feel like they came from a Maltby-Shire show….

That’s not an insult, I’m just saying it doesn’t really fit here.

35. A Romantic Atmosphere

Romantic Atmosphere 1

There’s a problem here for a modern production, particularly if a) you don’t have a proscenium stage or b) you staged Goodbye Love on the set instead of in front of the curtain. I believe what’s supposed to have happened here is a gunshot/crash, after which the curtain immediately opens and we see a waiter looking down on a fallen platter. ‘Did we hear a gunshot?’ we think, but we won’t find out until act 2. Unfortunately, this complicated set change is probably going to take a while, which means you have some choices to make. If you add music between 34 and 35, it can be either more of the Goodbye Love music, which seems like a pretty depressing choice, or Romantic Atmosphere music, which will just make us tire of this new number before it even starts. We opted to use 37.Tango Tragique as a scene change.

Looking at the PV, it sure seems like there was a full measure of rest after 5 and after 8 at some point; and that tends to work out most of the time, if you want to just time out the fermatas instead of cueing out of them. I think the ‘Victor Hugo’ line comes from the 1993 revival, where I want to say it reads as though two men are lovers. (although I can’t be sure) The original Broadway and London casts have someone giggling in the second rest.  

The dance break is rather difficult to play, particularly from 71-78, which is wild. Don’t ask me what Hotsy Hungarian Jazz Style means. Tell your players to feel free to klezmer it up a little, particularly around 89.

36. The Cafe Imperiale

This number is so fun to play.

37. Tango Tragique

This delightful and brief vocal version of this number doesn’t appear in the 1964 London production or the 1993 or 2016 revivals, being replaced by a monologue with essentially the same material over an underscore of the original tune. The first act is long, but by my calculation, putting the number back into the show adds only one minute to the act.

If you want to include it, everything is actually already there, you just have to reassemble it correctly. You can find the singer’s version of the number in the Singer’s Musical Theatre Anthology Tenor Volume 2.

Measure 1 should be played by the Piano or Accordion. The orchestration of measures 2-37 are measures 2-37 of 36 The Cafe Imperiale as it currently exists in underscore form. Measures 38-46 are measures 55-63 of 37 Tango Tragique. Measures 47-49 are measures 39-41 of 36 The Cafe Imperiale.

I suggest you play 37 as written in underscore form, timing it so that the end of the dialogue lines up with one of the open G chord cadences, such as measure 26, or best of all 49, which has a nice dead stop. If you have trouble lining that up, start the number later, or cut passages until it lines up properly.

37 as written as a scene change has one error in the Piano Vocal (that I noticed) The right hand downbeat of measure 10 should be a C, not a D.

38. Mr. Nowack, Will You Please

This is a shorter version of a much longer original. (or so I’m led to believe) It’s a rather operatic moment, in a mock Viennese style. I adored playing it.

39. Dear Friend

Of course this number is perfection. On the other hand, it’s troublesome to stage today, since the comedy of watching a woman at the lowest point of her life trying to muster some hope while being insulted by the waitstaff reads differently now than it did in 1963. We found leaning into the uncomfortability was helpful, so the crash right at the top of the number was useful in establishing that this is a tragi-comic moment.

I could make a tenuous case that the first gesture in Amalia’s melody (…flowers, the) here uses the exact three pitches as her first melody in the show, (we become) drawing a connection between the insecurity of the woman afraid of overeating in her sales pitch and the insecurity of a woman waiting for a man who might not show. That seems like a bit of a stretch, though. This melody is built of thirds and sequences just as No More Candy, and it has a prominent Lydian moment as the chorus begins, which in the vocabulary of this piece is aspirational.

Note the subtlety of the rhyme scheme here, and note how Amalia drops her Dufy-Dufay-Defoe wit and trick rhymes as she goes, opting for a simpler and more heartfelt expression. In fact at the end, the trick rhymes almost disappear:

The flowers, the linen, the crystal I see

Were carefully chosen for people like me

The silver agleam and the candles aglow

Your favorite songs on request.


Each colorful touch in the finest of taste

And notice how subtly the tables are spaced

The music is muted, the lighting is low

No wonder I feel so depressed


(AABC, DDBC, and reader please note agleam-aglow, music muted, lighting low wordplay)


Charming, Romantic, the perfect cafe

Then as if it isn’t bad enough a violin starts to play

Candles and wine, tables for two

But where are you,

Dear friend


Couples go past me, I see how they look

So discreetly sympathetic when they see the rose and the book

I make believe nothing is wrong

How long

Can I pretend?


Please make it right, don’t break my heart, don’t let it end

Dear friend



You sort of need a violinist on stage. Obviously a real violinist actually playing is ideal. Fake violin playing is atrocious. Also, for any potential Amalias out there, you must play against the tragedy in the number. It’s far more meaningful to watch Amalia try to get enough courage to believe she still has a chance than it is to watch her wallow for 5 minutes.

All measure numbers are wrong, because the parts list the pickup measure as measure 1. Both times I music directed this, the section beginning at 76 wasn’t anywhere near enough underscore for the entire dialogue. For one production I played painfully slowly through the underscore. If you need to get people offstage before intermission (as we did in our thrust space) you can play the last page again, giving the melody to a violin or a trumpet.

40. Entr’acte

Considering the length of the show, I can’t imagine playing this Entr’acte, but it’s a good one. I suggest starting Act II with 41 Opening Act II.


Both productions I’ve music directed were directed by the wonderful Matt Decker, who commented in rehearsal about the incredible string of numbers that opens Act II. If you’ve ever written a 2 act musical, you know that the beginning of Act II is the toughest nut to crack. If you’ve ended Act I in such a way that the audience wants to come back, Act II must drop the audience back into the action, delaying the resolution of the story without making the audience feel like they’ll be there forever, and getting across new information without getting bogged down in book scenes. At this critical juncture, Bock and Harnick deploy 5 of the best numbers in American Musical Theatre, one after the other. It is a tour de force.

41. Opening, Act II

This quirky little opener is similar to 2. Opening the Shop, except the Piano Vocal seems to be error free!

42. Try Me

Arpad and Motel the Tailor from Fiddler are clearly cut from the same cloth. With the possible exception of Tulsa in Gypsy, I think they’re the two finest roles for young men ever written, and again, the attention to detail of character here is astonishing.

After the opening lick, which reminds one of I Could Have Danced All Night from My Fair Lady, Arpad launches us into a wonderfully declamatory verse that keeps ratcheting up, from C to D to E to F to G to A, always major, finally dropping into a very ‘mod’ sounding groove which contains the hook. As is typical of this show, the catchy tune appears only briefly before an extended retail fantasy, which hits so many marks and wanders so far afield, it’s a wonder the number still holds together before returning for a final pass of the chorus.

A few performance tips: It is possible to play the glissando with two fingers of the right hand in measure 13. It’s kind of fun; it just takes a little practice. Some tenors have trouble hearing the D in measures 60 and 81, especially as the piano so clearly plays a C. The G in the right hand in measures 135 and 136 may be an error; it certainly fights that F in the woodwind line above it. I think you want to play D minor 7 for those 2 measures. 

43. Maraczek’s Memories

You may need a little more music here, in which case I suggest you repeat the first 16 bars.

44. Where’s My Shoe?

Where's My Shoe

I live in one of those odd houses where 6 different people actually sing this song whenever looking for shoes. What else would one sing? Only in a Bock and Harnick musical could such an oddball story moment result in such an outside-the-box number, and one of the highlights of the show at that!

Musically it’s a wonder! The accompaniment is a romp, with a chromatic interior line and an oom-pah passage that can’t seem to decide if it’s in 3 or in 6. Melodically, Amalia is utterly unhinged, arpeggiating the tonic chord, but veering off into sharp 5, twice, then snaking up from Fi to Ti chromatically. 3 seven note scales sequence over a circle-of-fifths progression twice, then the arpeggiated A section begins all over again. George is much more grounded; his melody is a single note when it isn’t a perfectly rounded phrase or a simple scale.  

This number is not so terribly difficult to prepare, the trick is to make it feel like it’s going off the rails without it actually going off the rails. Traditionally it’s staged with a lot of acrobatic chasing and throwing Amalia over Georg’s shoulder, which is not conducive to beautiful singing. Either you have to get used to the idea that it will be funnier than beautiful, or you’ll need to get involved with the staging so that Amalia isn’t supporting the weight of her head with her neck muscles while singing the G, for example. Keep in mind that she needs to play a scene, then sing Vanilla Ice Cream in about 4 minutes.

The lick in the last 5 measures is a bear to play. I recommend leaving the left hand out.

45. Vanilla Ice Cream

This is justifiably one of the most talked about numbers in the history of American Musical Theatre:

Will Friedwald wrote: “Ice Cream is one of the theater’s best songs of self-exploration and discovery, the kind usually given to leading men in Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals, such as the King of Siam puzzling out A Puzzlement and Billy Bigelow contemplating parenthood in Soliloquy. Ice Cream repeatedly changes keys, tones, melodies- the works- mirroring the thought process even more ambitiously than Adelaide’s Lament in Guys and Dolls in a way that seems completely random but is obviously carefully concocted.”

The number replaced an earlier song, The Touch of Magic, which was converted back into a monologue.

In Jennifer Packard’s interesting book A Taste of Broadway: Food in Musical Theater, she points out that Joe Masteroff’s insertion of Ice Cream into the scenario is more related to his childhood in Philadelphia than any Hungarian roots. She also observes that it was Masteroff who introduced the Pineapple into the romantic story between Fraulein Schneider and Herr Schultz in Cabaret 3 years later.  

The ‘Ice Cream’ part of the melody once again embraces the 6th scale degree, and again I’ll refer you to Philip Lambert’s excellent  book for an analysis along those lines. I’ll work my analysis here along broader lines.

The famous opening letter passage combines the two most compelling Amalia ideas from Act I. A celesta plays a music box idea; different from the cigarette boxes near the beginning of Act I, but tonally reminiscent, while below, a we hear the melody of Dear Friend from the end of Act I.  

Amalia’s letter is interrupted by a Hungarian idea once again looping around neighbor tones, with another Lydian inflected Fi. Just as this Csardas seems to be going off the rails, Amalia regains her composure and starts the letter again, this time with no countermelody from the restaurant! She has already started to move on, and spectacularly so, culminating in a tiny bit of coloratura in thirds with a flute, which I’ve always heard as a callback to the Mad Scene in Lucia di Lammermoor..

America’s conceptions about Opera have changed quite a bit over the years. Today Vanilla Ice Cream’s operatic flavor at the end reads to general audiences as a fanciful touch, even a little loopy. But for Barbara Cook, who played this part originally, Opera was meaningful on its own terms. She said once to an interviewer:

“Opera was such a huge part of my growing up. I don’t quite know how it happened because nobody cared about opera in particular. When I was a little girl, I would always ask my mother or my grandmother to call me when the Saturday afternoon broadcast was beginning. It was a beautiful, beautiful part of my life.”

In the 1960s American audiences had a much higher level of Opera literacy than they do today, and for audiences familiar with operatic tropes, the end of Vanilla Ice Cream signified more than just whimsy. Mary Ann Smart wrote in an oft quoted passage from a 1992 article in the Cambridge Opera Journal:

“Trills, melismas, and high notes suggest hysteria, an unbearable pitch of emotion; they liberate music from text, allow it to escape from the rational, connect it with pre-symbolic modes of communication. In a sense coloratura is free from the confinement of music an of language; a syllable stretched beyond recognition is an escape from signification, the emergence of irrationality and madness.”

Smart was writing generally about coloratura in an article specifically about Donizetti’s opera Lucia Di Lammermoor, and it’s the mad scene that most opera fans would have thought of upon hearing the very brief moment of coloratura at the end of Vanilla Ice Cream. Both are accompanied by a flute after the orchestra has dropped out, although Amalia’s ascent into the stratosphere isn’t anywhere near as long or complicated:

Lucia Mad Scene Snippet

Vanilla Ice Cream 1

The mad scene from Lucia is only the best known of a long list of soprano arias accompanied by flute, including examples from almost every important French Opera composer of the mid-19th century. Lucia is by far the most famous example. As of this season, it is the 15th most performed opera at the Met, with 611 performances, more than any opera by Mozart or Strauss.

So is Amalia going mad? Of course not. But as the number veers toward opera, she is in a very real way liberated from language, which had up until this point been not only her character’s interest as a reader of books, but her mode of expression; wordy, articulate, reasoned. We are seeing an ecstatic moment that sets her character on another course.

I don’t have much in the way of words of wisdom as you coach this number, except to encourage your soprano not to overdo the difference between the vocal quality of the two sections; the lower part should not really be belted. And then the portamento between the High B and the E is important. To do it in a quasi-operatic style, use vibrato as you descend; it’s a great effect.

Most of the parts have only 1 fermata in 96, not 4, so your players may need clarification. If you are conducting from the piano, your trumpet players and others who have a similar rhythm may have trouble figuring out your tempo, since what you’re playing sounds like triplets. Show them your part and all will be well.

Should you need a playoff, you can go back to 74, 82, or 98.

46. She Loves Me

She Loves Me 1


When David Gordon asked Joe Masteroff and Sheldon Harnick if they would change anything about the show, Masteroff said:

“I must say the one thing I didn’t like… I like the song She Loves Me, I hate it as the title for the show. It seems so cliche. It seems like every other title you’ve ever heard.”

Harnick then suggested it was probably Hal Prince’s idea, and Masteroff continued:

“I’m sure it was Hal. He never asked me about anything. There ought to be something like ‘She Loves Me?’ with a question mark, which is more effective as a title, I think. It gives the audience something to wonder about.”

In an interview for the 1993 book Creativity: Conversations With 28 Who Excel, Harnick said:

“ I was very pleased when I wrote a song like ‘She Loves Me’. I thought, ‘Oh, good, the analysis is working.’ I’m able to say things that really come right out of me, unselfconsciously. For instance, there’s a line, ‘My teeth ache from the urge to touch you.’ [sic] And that was because there have been moments when I’ve been with a girl and the back or my teeth hurt.”

There’s an odd notation at the top of the piano vocal score that Amalia says, ‘well, well…’ and then Georg saying, ‘well!’ before launching into the song. Those lines don’t appear in the script at all, and I have no idea how they would! But this makes me think that at one point, the authors had attempted a seam between the previous scene and this song similar to the seam between Maraczek’s suicide attempt and A Romantic Atmosphere! But even without this glue, there’s plenty of connecting material between this number and other material in the show, beginning with “Will wonders never cease?”, a clear callback to the previous number. Amalia just sang that 4 times.

The ‘well well’ passage slips chromatically and hilariously from Le down to Do, as Georg nearly abandons language himself, but the “I didn’t like her” section jumps spastically up from E flat to Bb, Db, C, Eb, Fb, Georg is wildly attempting to ground a tonality before finally settling on the same 2 pitches (Db and Eb) Amalia was vacillating between at the top of Will He Like Me!

She Loves Me Example 2

Let me put too fine a point on that: Georg is answering her question. “Will he like me?”, she asks. “I didn’t like her”, he answers, but then using the two notes that represented her confusion, he adds: “Now I do!”

It took me far too long to notice that Georg’s lyric refers back to itself:

I didn’t like her But now I do

Didn’t like her? I couldn’t stand her! And I could

Couldn’t stand her? I Wouldn’t have her! And I would

I wouldn’t have her I never knew her! And I know…

Melodically, we are also once again hearing the prominence of the 6th scale degree (the song ends on the 6th!) Georg’s main melody begins similarly to Kodaly’s in Ilona, except that Georg’s accompaniment is actually going somewhere. In fact, the melody pays off the exploratory jumps and descents of the introduction, this time climbing the scale in a very satisfying way!

She Loves Me Example 3

Note also that Georg has taken the ‘mod’ rhythm from Try Me as his new motif. He is a younger man as a result of this revelation.

When accompanying with piano, it is possible to follow the singer through all the ‘well’s. But when conducting, it’s far more difficult. I suggest the singer follow you, or work out a very consistent pattern of speeding up.

In measure 14, reed I needs an F flat.

47. She Loves Me Playoff

There is a pickup to measure 1 in the parts (A in the trumpet). Yet another example of the shoddy copywork in this strata of the vocal score.

48. A Trip To The Library

Philip Lambert shrewdly notes that just as Ilona forms a matched pair with I Resolve, A Trip to the Library matches with Grand Knowing You. In the first matched pair, Ilona is seduced, then finds a new determination in rejection. In the second matched pair, Ilona is again seduced, but this time by a better man, and she makes good her resolve, which reveals Kodaly’s true, embittered self.

It has always been a go-to for audition material and for the discerning actor-singer, because the material is so character driven, and the actress gets to sing 3 characters: the one telling the story, herself, and Paul! It’s a number for a belter that doesn’t go terribly high, relying on characterization and comic timing rather than vocal fireworks.

The first section is a bolero with the rhythm played on the flute, a clear nod to Maurice Ravel. Ravel’s 1928 Bolero is a sinuous, sexy kind of piece with a dramatic finish, and any theatregoer in the 60s who was mildly literate in classical music will have had some contact with it. Older people today would associate it with a particular scene in the movie 10 that made Ravel’s Bolero the bestselling classical piece in the world.

Bock’s melody is amazingly even more repetitive than Ravel’s, which perfectly illustrates Ilona’s nervous energy.

Four measures of very dramatic Hungarian music follow, as Ritter’s low-key nervousness explodes into melodrama. But then we find ourselves in a classic early 60s show tune. As far as I can make out, this is the longest time in the whole show we hear a classic showtune. Embedded in this part of the tune is some of the most exquisite timing in any musical. We hear this kind of thing between Golde and Tevye in Fiddler, but it’s extremely rare, particularly in a straight ahead tune. I’m talking about pauses and placement in the bar that emphasize intention and depict the speed of thought in the character’s mind.

…quietly said to me…. “Ma’am”

I said “No”….. (off the beat, as if suddenly changing her mind)”Yes I am!”


What happens if things go wrong?

It’s obvious he’s quite strong….. (the longer the pause, the funnier the payoff)

He read to me all night long.

Under this perfectly constructed musical storyline is the wittiest imaginable orchestral accompaniment, alternating a seductive thumbline against jaunty chromatic punctuating phrases, culminating in that ‘mod’ rhythm we see whenever the story is aiming at the storylines of younger people.

After another bolero and Hungarian passage, the second chorus of the ‘tune-proper’ has a saucy woodwind counter-melody that is worthy of Nelson Riddle.

Here are a few things I’ve noticed, having coached this song for dozens of singers over the years:

  1. Some singers struggle with the timing of the first entrance, since that bolero rhythm is repetitive and easy to get lost in. I tell singers to listen to the bass, which is far easier to latch on to. Tell your drummer to play in the bolero as quietly as possible and emphasize the double bass part.  
  2. I rarely hear the correct notes in measure 18. Measure 19 is easy to hear, but the starting note for “and there was this…” is surprisingly hard. Drill that a bit at the beginning of your process. That passage happens a couple further times, including after a fairly subtly voiced key change. Make sure we get that first starting note correctly each time, and aim for a bright tone so the voice cuts down there so low.
  3. Most people can sing the passage “A trip to the library has made a new girl of me”, but singers have more trouble with the chromatic “I can see.” Keep those half steps small, or the following passage will also be wrong. This applies all four times that passage is heard.
  4. For some reason the text in the second bolero trips up singers more than the first. Learn it slow at first.

49. Sipos’s Exit

There is no repeat in the parts. (that’s written on the bottom of the PV page, but it’s easy to miss) I only mention this because if you need more time, you may accidentally ask your players to make the repeat into a vamp and they don’t have the repeat.

50. Dorbell #5

See above

51. Doorbell #6

See above

52. Thank You, Madam #5

Arpad’s part in measure 8 is wrong, and I’m pretty sure the parts are mislabeled in the vocal books. 

53. Grand Knowing You

There was a different, and very successful song in this spot originally, called My North American Drug Store, written to get Kodaly offstage after being fired. (imagine the moment without a number for a quick laugh, Kodaly simply slinking off! Impossible)

It was hard to make this cut, since the number was doing well with audience and performer. According to Harnick:

“I was never happy with it. I got to know Jack [Cassidy] and realized he needed to be bitchy and terribly funny- but there was an innocence to the bitchiness. It was witty rather than mean, and I thought, ‘this is the kind of song to try.’ We came up with Grand Knowing You. Jack was very reluctant at that point to do a new song, because North American Drug Store was stopping the show. You couldn’t argue with that, but we showed it to him and said, ‘Jack, this is a better song. It’s a character song… it was a combination of his character, his personality, and the character of the show.’  

The rewritten version is not only a better tune, but much better written to character, with a bitterly cruel and very funny middle section that paints Kodaly beautifully. It’s another example of Harnick’s rewrites getting closer to the truth of the characters.

Of the 6 numbers in She Loves Me that speed up from slow to fast, this is the first that doesn’t sound ‘Hungarian’. I might have said the ‘only’ number, but the number that follows is actually built as one enormous gradual accelerando, and it doesn’t sound Hungarian at all. The main melody is deceptively difficult to sing well; it requires a good deal of breath support. Choose your tempo for the first section based on what your singer can sustain, leaving room, of course, for it to get much faster at the end.

The middle section is very fun, and something of a bear to play and coordinate. If you listen to a few recordings, you’ll hear that the tempo is extremely fluid, but oddly consistent. That is to say that it speeds up and slows down, but in the same way every time. Because there is so much crazy style hongrois passage work in the orchestra, you will have to work out with the singer when to wait for the band and when to go on. And ideally it should always feel like the singer is driving those choices, not just waiting for the band. That’s hard! Finally, you’ll have to let the orchestra know how to get through those passages, which is really very difficult if you’re conducting from the piano.

You may also find that the passage beginning at measure 64 will come out wrong at the sitzprobe 2 or 3 times before your rhythm section understands what’s happening. In fact that’s a spot you may want to address before you even begin running it with the band.

54A. Christmas Sequence

After a true ‘string of pearls’ of fantastic character songs, Act II give us its last major number with a chorus feature, exactly the opposite of what most musicals would do in Act II.

This is marked Fast Chase, but I chose to do it slower, which made the rit at 8 much easier to handle from the keyboard. I don’t know how you could possibly slow down from the previous number’s speed to that fermata gracefully using only your head nodding to indicate tempo.

54B. A Christmas Carol

Measure 23 has a poco rit. in the parts. (but not in the Piano Vocal Score) It’d be nice to know that when rehearsing the number, no?

If you were very short on chorus guys, you could make the chorus all female, either by treating the parts as a true canon, all in the same range (which does mostly work) or by putting every F# from measures 10-23 up the octave and eliminating the lowest notes in measures 24-33. But truthfully, you only need 1 tenor and 1 bass.

54C. Twelve Days To Christmas

I like a little crescendo in measures 32-33.

Be sure you choose your tempo at the top of 54C with some room to speed up. After all, that’s the name of the game here. If you start slower, the speedup will be more dramatic.

The last note in the vocals in measure 45 should be an A.

Measures 119 and 120 have the left hand a whole step high. If you can’t figure out what the measure is actually supposed to be by this time in the show, I don’t know what to tell you. The left hand in measure 121 is missing a quarter note rest, and all the parts have a half note on beat 2 with a fermata on it. Again, super important information missing from the conductor score.

Keep an ear out for the rhythm change in measures 166-168. I suggest converting measure 171 into a 4/4 measure, especially if you’re conducting with your head and playing. The original cast recording has something else here, and in the 1993 recordings and following, it’s sloppy and unclear. It’s hard to establish that new tempo for just one bar or to relate the 2/4 tempo to the 6/8 tempo. For my money, we lose nothing by changing it to 4/4 and treating the new 6/8 dotted quarters with the same pulse of the old quarter. Trust me, it can still feel ‘off the rails’, it just won’t actually be off the rails. And that, incidentally, is the principle that should guide you: As fast as you can go without being sloppy.

Your players may find themselves wanting to slow down in the last 6 measures, but I think you want to just plow through.

55. The Invitation

The underscore that sits here now is simple and perfect. Should you need more music to cover the scene, I suggest repeating 25-32 and 41-44.

56. Closing the Shop

There was a lovely Christmas number that was cut from the show in previews called Christmas Eve that you can hear here. (I’m guessing at the placement in the show, although someone will surely correct me)

The cue for this number is, “You’re right, my boy. You won’t get it.”

57. Finale, Act II

Many writers have commented on the brilliance of repurposing the Vanilla Ice Cream thematic material with a new lyric here. This stroke of genius apparently occurred in the Philadelphia tryout. Originally it had been a reprise of No More Candy..

This is also a kind of a bookend to Three Letters at the top of the show. Three Letters revealed to the audience that the main characters were writing one another when Amalia reads Georg’s letter. The Finale reveals to Amalia that Georg is her pen-pal when Georg quotes Amalia’s letter. And how wonderful that when they sing together, nothing rhymes and there is no attempt to allow the audience to process their separate thoughts. The lovers are so excited that they drop their carefully curated facades of language in favor of a stream of consciousness. As Amalia said: “There’s no hiding behind my paper and pen.”

We opted to have the accompaniment begin in measure 3 in our production, so that Georg could take more ownership of the moment. I suppose if you like that thought, you could even begin even later.

58. She Loves Me Bows

The first measure is in 2 in all the parts, but in 3 in the score. All the measure numbers in the piano vocal are wrong following measure 41, (renumber your book continuing from 41) and from 54 to the end, the clarinet part in Reed I is mis-transposed.

Other than that, this is a nice Bows.

59. Thank You Bows

26-45 makes a decent repeat if you need one.

60. Exit Music

Measure 95 is marked Allegro Con Brio in the parts, but not in the Vocal Score, and the metric modulation is wrong, I think. If you take a reasonable tempo for She Loves Me at 53, and you treat the new half like the old quarter, it’s so fast, the orchestration doesn’t make sense. If you take the old meaning of the metric modulation, where the new quarter is the old half, it’s painfully slow. I think you gotta treat the new quarter like the old quarter and just switch up the groove. OR pick a new tempo for the Allegro con Brio that has nothing to do with the old one.

Pit Orchestra Considerations:

A few instruments are essential: The trumpet and violin have important cadenzas right away. It helps to have a violinist who doesn’t mind being onstage during Romantic Atmosphere and Dear Friend. You need to pick between the 2 reed version and the 3 reed version. The 2 reed version is very good, so I can’t imagine a situation where somebody has enough money to hire the extra reed instead of another player elsewhere, but perhaps you have a bigger budget than me.

I used violin 1, cello, reeds 1 and 2, Trumpet, bass, drumset, and keys 2. Keys 2 really helps fake a string section, especially if you have real strings on the outside of the texture. I cued up my vocal score using the keys 1 book, and played mostly a somewhat french sounding accordion patch, harp, and piano sounds.

Enjoy your production of She Loves Me! I sure did!