I Do! I Do! music by Harvey Schmidt Book & lyrics by Tom Jones. Upstairs at the Gatehouse, Highgate Village, London N6 to16 November 2019. 3***. William Russell

I Do! I Do!
Music by Harvey Schmidt Book & Lyrics by Tom Jones.
Upstairs at the Gatehouse, Highgate Village, London N6 4BD to 16 November 2019.
Tues – Sat 7,ropm Mat Sat 3pm & Sun 4pm.
Runs 1hr 50 mins One interval.
TICKETS: 020 8340 3488
Review: William Russell 30 October.

Like Jan de Hartog’s 1951 play The Four Poster on which I Do! I DO! is based this 1966 musical is a charming piece , inexpensive to stage and a copper bottomed, sure fire vehicle for star names who can hold a tune. It is also much loved in America with one production running for 20 years, possibly less so here. The Broadway production directed by Gower Champion starring Mary Martin and Robert Preston had several Tony nominations and Preston won the best actor in a musical Tony. In London two years later also directed by Champion and starring Anne Rodgers and Ian Carmichael it only ran for 115 performances although there have been subsequent fringe productions/
Joseph Hodges’ staging is fluent, has a nice simple set with a splendid brass bedstead centre stage and he has elicited fine performances from Gemma Maclean (Agnes) and Ben Morris (Michael) as they journey through the years from 1895 and their wedding night to 1945 when, the children having left home, they downsize and leave that marital bed behind. It is sentimental and uplifting, a show for couples to enjoy, cringe at times as they recognise moments from their own lives, and one which will pass the time painlessly, tunefully and easily. One could not really ask for more.
Harvey Schmidt’s score fits the story line like a glove and Tom Jones, who wrote the book and lyrics, has taken de Hartog’s play and shaped it perfectly for the demands of a musical. Maybe it is all bit Saturday Evening Post Americana for audiences here to take to their hearts but on a drear November night it passes the time happily. Maclean and Morris may not be star names but they are fine performers who cope with ease – and they can sing, not always the case with those who appear in fringe musicals, indeed in any musicals, these days. They get first rate backing from musical director Henry Brennan on the piano so that one never misses a band.
The passage of time is not all that well delineated – Agnes looks the same throughout. At the very least in middle to old age those shoulder length blonde locks would have either disappeared or she would have put her hair up – and the changing fashions over the decades are not there. It is also careless to allow her to go to bed with her shoes on. There may be good reasons for Morris keeping his underwear on – this is not that kind of show – but putting his pyjamas on top is a little odd. The programme claims an extra song previously not there, but which it is does not say and the running order does seem slightly different from previous productions. No matter, the marriage survives all its problems, their son and daughter leave the nest and it ends with Agnes and Michael leaving for a smaller home and squabbling over whether to leave the ghastly Jesus Loves You mini cushion her mother had placed on their marital bed behind for the next occupants to find.
Agnes: Gemma Maclean.
Michael: Ben Morris.

Director: Joseph Hodges.
Musical Director: Henry Brennan.
Set Designer: Emily Bestow.
Lighting Designer: Joseph Ed Thomas.
Costume Supervisor: Susan Hodges.
Sound Designer: Phil Wilson.
Production Photographer: Kevin Ralph.

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