Pastel façades, gilded details, and candy-color bottles of perfume—the beloved 1963 musical She Loves Me has never been more charming than in its most recent revival, which debuted last month at Studio 54 in New York. The inspiration for such Hollywood hits as You’ve Got Mail and The Shop Around the Corner, the production stars Tony Award winners Laura Benanti and Jane Krakowski, as well as Zachary Levi and Gavin Creel, but it’s the sets that really steal the show.
To establish the tone and setting of a Budapest perfumery in the 1930s—and channel the story’s dreamlike sweetness—director Scott Ellis turned to his frequent collaborator, the AD100 designer David Rockwell of Rockwell Group. “I love Art Nouveau as a design style, so it was thrilling that we could use it to define the character of Maraczek’s perfumery,” notes Rockwell of the sumptuous sets. “It cleverly lends itself to expression in the smallest refined details.”
The wow factor isn’t lost on anyone who sees the play, but the effect is perhaps most profound on the actors who intimately inhabit these remarkable spaces. “I have always considered She Loves Me to be a jewel box of a musical, and it is not lost on me that David created a jewel box that literally opens and closes, with the three main walls opening and then folding into each other,” says Krakowski, who plays the love-crazy Ilona Ritter. Here, members of the cast share their favorite details from the Rockwell-designed set.
“When we first arrived at the theater and saw how David’s magnificent set moved, rotated, opened, and closed, we all applauded wildly,” recalls Krakowski. “I immediately felt like the set was one of the characters—a living and breathing character that dances along with us in the show.”
“Every night when the store ‘opens,’ I feel like a Vanna White, proudly showing off this beautiful creation as our characters do our daily routine of setting up the shop for business,” says Krakowski.
“The window treatments of the Café Imperial remind me of a paisley Scalamandré print that figures prominently in the design of my own living room,” notes Eakeley. “Since we all know David is a genius, I vicariously give myself a little pat on the back every night when I make my entrance through these window treatments in ‘A Romantic Atmosphere.’”
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