‘I Do! I Do!’ lifts audiences’ spirits
Nick Todaro, [email protected]
Deborah Hinson and Michael Self provide an unforgettable window into the reality of marriage and love in I Do! I Do!, the latest production of Theatre Rocks! and its director Bill Rhoten.
Michael and Agnes play against the forces of time and hardship that it brings in the musical drama, a poignant approach to the institution of marriage that shows the truth of what time and devotion can really look like. That picture includes responsibility, laughter, parenting struggles, answering to another person for every choice and the continued fight against drifting apart as a couple. I Do! I Do! makes the case that for all the struggles, marriage is perhaps one of the highest pursuits in life, and lifts the audience through its approach to showing how both parties grow.
Hinson is inspired, showing her considerable range in both comedic timing, emotive performance and singing chops. Her voice, at times pointed and at other intervals soft, reveals polish and a deep respect for her role in this two-person production. Agnes, who discovers the joys of marriage early and its struggles quickly, too, changes before the audience’s eyes. Her emptiness at the departure of her son and daughter and the uncertainty over the meaning of her life in “What is a Woman?” is one of the emotional centerpieces of the show, and it’ll be tough to find a dry eye in the room as she sings.
Self, a practiced performer on stage, sells his namesake character with comedy and convincing male perspective. His development as a man — first as a new husband, then as a father and later as a true partner — is clear and uplifting for an audience that sees him struggle with the disconnected husband stereotype. The successful author must deal with the wages of his fame and the potential costs it will exert in his life, saving his marriage and his connection to his all-important family as the musical develops.
Self’s performance ability carries his portion of this duo’s burden with the skill one would expect from the stage veteran.
The show hinged on strong casting choices and strong musicianship, and Rhoten was able to bring in the right mix of talent to make I Do! I Do! sing. Rene Freeman, who plays piano for the show, and Terry Munn, working percussion, drive Self and Hinson through this complex story, and their contributions cannot be understated or overlooked.
The Kovar family, responsible yet again for the set design at Theatre Rocks!, has set a high bar for local theater productions in I Do! I Do! The bedroom details are well organized and create a setting into which the actors can immerse themselves fully.
I Do! I Do!, written in 1966 by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, is based on the 1951-52 Tony Award winning Best Play “The Fourposter” by Jan de Hartog, and depicts 50 years in the marriage of Michael and Agnes. The local production runs through May 11.