The Crusader Newspaper Group

Local actor James Earl Jones II shines again in ‘She Loves Me’

By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., Chicago Crusader

The Marriott Theatre transports audiences back to the Golden Age of Budapest in this delightfully scented case of mistaken identity and unexpected true love.

Set against the lavish backdrop of a 1930’s Hungarian perfume shop, the Tony Award-winning musical comedy gem “She Loves Me” continues the Marriott Theatre’s 2017 season, running through June 18, 2017. Based on Miklos Laszlo’s play, Parfumerie, which then became the inspiration for the Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan box office hit “You’ve Got Mail,” “She Loves Me” features a soaring score by Tony Award-winning composers Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick (“Fiddler on the Roof”), and book by Joe Masteroff (“Cabaret”). With musical direction by Matt Deitchman, Marriott Theatre Lead Artistic Director and Jeff Award-winner Aaron Thielen directs and choreographs this euphoric comedy.

“I fell in love with ‘She Loves Me’ 26 years ago, when I was cast in the show while attending the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Also in that cast were soon-to-be Marriott Theatre alumni Guy Adkins and Tari Kelly. I think it’s a brilliant show and am thrilled to get the opportunity to work on it again,” says director and choreographer Aaron Thielen. “From the details of the props and costume pieces, to the music’s Hungarian influence, we’re really adding the element of tradition back into this already amazing piece. This production   is a nod to the folk tradition of the era.”

A captivating jewel-box of a musical, “She Loves Me” follows Georg and Amalia, two parfumerie clerks who don’t see eye to eye, constantly quarreling on the job. But once the work day is done, the feuding co-workers find solace in their anonymous romantic pen pals, not knowing their respective correspondents are actually each other.  Chaos ensues as a tangle of mistaken identity and hilarious encounters finally bring the soulmates together, leading Georg to realize the animosity between the two may have been nothing less than love in disguise. “She Loves Me” radiates pure romance through some of the most iconic songs in the musical theatre canon, including “Vanilla Ice Cream,” “Tonight at 8” and “She Loves Me.”

GEORGE NOWACK TRIES to encourage Amalia Balash, played by Elizabeth Telford, to come back to work after she is suddenly ill when her “secret pen pal” stands her up at the restaurant the night before. (Photo by Justin Barbin).

“She Loves Me” stars Elizabeth Telford as Amalia Balash, Jeff Award Winner Alex Goodrich as Georg Nowack, Jeff Award Winner Terry Hamilton as Mr. Maraczek, Jeff Award Winner David Schlumpf as Steven Kodaly, Jessica Naimy as Ilona Ritter, James Earl Jones II as Ladislav Sipos, and sharing the role of Arpad Laszlo are Grant Kilian and Johnny Rabe.

James Earl Jones II has also starred in The Marriott Theatre’s “Madagascar,” “October Sky,” “Dreamgirls” and “The Full Monty.” I have enjoyed seeing Jones perform in various plays not only at this venue but in others across the Chicagoland area. As Sipos in “She Loves Me,” Jones’ personality shines, as he works alongside the other clerks trying to sell as much merchandise as they can to the many women and men who frequent the store. The owner of the parfumerie, Mr. Maraczek, can at times be a grumpy sort, but it is revealed that he has concerns that his wife is cheating on him. This distrust causes a tragedy that sheds sadness upon the entire scene, but out of this gloom comes victory for the clerks. “She Loves Me” not only reminds me of “You’ve Got Mail” but also of the “The Shop Around the Corner” with Jimmy Stewart.

The Marriott Theatre Lincoln- shire is located at 10 Marriot Drive in Lincolnshire. Ticket prices range from $50 to $60, including tax and handling fees. Call for student, senior and military discounts. Free parking is available at all performances. To reserve tickets, call the Marriott Theatre Box Office at 847-634-0200 or go to for more information.

Tone Davis Promotions presents the Mann family

The Mann family, anchored by award-winning Gospel singer Tamela Mann breezed into the Chicago area on May 12 at the UIC Forum. The concert/tour named Mann’s World Family Tour, was a great kick off to the Mother’s Day weekend. And while Kirk Franklin, who has worked with Tamela many times after she originally appeared in a string of Tyler Perry plays, was in attendance, he didn’t perform. But his absence didn’t stop the show. The Mann family members through and through are talented, and they delivered to a nearly sold out crowd. There was a DJ set with David Mann, Jr., then Tia Mann, the daughter, showed the audience that she has pipes and can sing, as well. Next “Mr. Brown,” or David Mann, delivered a comedy set that had everyone in stitches.

Finally, the woman of the hour Tamela Mann took the stage and sang for nearly 90 minutes. Her set included old and new songs, including “Take Me to the King” and “God Will Provide.” I really enjoyed this show, and the UIC Forum concertgoers showed their utmost appreciation for a performance that the entire family could enjoy. I particularly enjoyed that the Spirit of the Holy Ghost was evident across the auditorium, as Tamela witnessed to the crowd. Tamela is always a joy to behold, as she is not only a performer but uses the opportunity to share the Gospel and invite participants to praise God to the highest.

Mann’s World Family Tour goes on to other cities across the country. For more information, visit









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