The wow of the vow
I Do, I Do. Book and lyrics by Tom Jones; music by Harvey Schmidt. Chanhassen Dinner Theatres through February 2011. Dinner and show: $45-62; only show: $33-50. Tickets: 952/934-1525 or www.ChanhassenDT.com.
I Do, I Do at the Chanhassen is a legend in the Twin Cities theatre scene. The show originally opened in 1971, and didn’t close until 1993. During this extraordinary run the two lead actors (David Anders and Susan Goeppinger) fell in love, married, had and raised kids, and aged before their audience — while every evening playing the roles of a husband and wife who do the same.
Now I Do, I Do is back, with veteran local actors Keith Rice and Norah Long recreating the roles of Michael and Agnes. The script documents 50 years of their marriage through a series of vignettes, spoken and sung, starting on the day of their wedding at the turn of the last century.
The chemistry between Rice and Long is infectious, especially in the bouncy first act.
Michael and Agnes are the only characters we ever see on the stage, but there’s a hidden third character here that’s just as interesting: the relationship they create between themselves. This relationship is both the villain and the hero, the source of their deepest conflicts and their greatest joys.
The action ranges from broad physical comedy (Michael covering his knobby knees with his nightshirt on their wedding night), great pain (Michael’s confession of infidelity; Agnes’ crisis of identity), and, ultimately, reconciliation and satisfaction that comes from the characters’ brave commitment to sustain their marriage.
Rice and Long bring vitality and professionalism to their roles. Their chemistry is infectious, especially in the bouncy first act. In the second act, their aging is not artificial, but accomplished through changes in voice and carriage so subtle that they almost surprise the viewer. Rice punctuates a goofball comedic physical appeal with moments of profound seriousness. Long uses her marvelous, effortless voice to express a young mother’s apprehension and a mature woman’s loneliness. Her ability to simultaneously regard her husband with love, pity, and disgust during his mid-life crisis is one of the most memorable moments of the show.
Bring a date and enjoy dinner before the show. I Do, I Do ostensibly runs through spring 2011, but we all know how that turned out last time, don’t we?
Jason Scherschligt is a board member of Metro Lutheran, as well as chair of its editorial committee.