HART presents Valentine's Day confection
HART's Feichter Studio serves up a frothy confection for Valentine's Day with the Tom Jones/Harvey Schmidt musical "I Do, I Do."
The G-rated two-character show spans the 50-year marriage of Agnes and Michael Snow and has one set: the couple's bedroom, which is dominated by a big four-poster bed.
First produced on Broadway by David Merrick, "I Do, I Do" was written by the creators of the lyrics and music for Broadway's longest-running show—everybody's favorite, "The Fantasticks."
Though not quite the venerable "Fantasticks," "I Do, I Do" more than holds its own. The sweet show had a healthy run on Broadway, and in the early 1970s Carol Burnette and Rock Hudson toured with it to outstanding reviews.
Carol and Rock have nothing on HART's Clara Burrus and Dominic Aguilina. Burrus and Aguilina are opera singers who look like movie stars. The two sparkle their way through clever Tom Jones lyrics with a brilliant Schmidt piano score performed to perfection by Kristen Dominguez.
At a rehearsal on a recent rainy night, Aguilina swooped in late from his job teaching voice and drama at Mars Hill College.
"I think I was on TV tonight but I'm not sure," said the affable actor. A visitor had seen the WLOS clip a few minutes earlier and let him know that his Tosca aria filmed at Grove Park Inn seemed perfect.
Aguilina spent 13 years performing in New York City. The former Brevard Music Center student is glad to be back in Western North Carolina.
"My parents fell in love with the area when I was at Brevard and decided to move here," he said. "I moved back from Manhattan to be near them." The former Broadway performer also teaches at Western Carolina University.
Burrus in no newcomer to HART nor to "I Do, I Do," She was last seen on the local stage in "Light in the Piazza" and performed the "I Do, I Do" role at North Georgia Theatre at Piedmont College in Northeast Georgia.
"I already knew the role and I thought it would be perfect for Dominic and me," Burrus said. "I talked with Steve (Steven Lloyd, HART executive director) and he was all for it, so here we are."
Feichter Studio productions are patterned on a model Lloyd worked with while studying theatre at UNC-G. For a nominal rental fee, actors can put on their own shows in the intimate Studio. Lloyd gives his approval to the script and schedules the performances. Actors and their director take it from there. "I Do, I Do" was originally booked for the Studio, but it was soon apparent that the four-poster bed and the grand piano required the main stage.
"It just gets bigger and bigger," said director Kristen Livengood of the production. The Sylva native earned a bachelor's degree in theater from UNC-Greensboro.
Livengood has her own Valentine story: "My husband and I eloped two months after we met and we're planning a second wedding now," the former Voices in the Laurel singer said. "So 'I Do, I Do' is the right show for us to be involved with." Her husband helps his director wife with lights and sound. The two are a HART romance — they met during the theatre's production of "Guys and Dolls."
HART has a Valentine for you Thursday night at 7:30. Other opportunities to see "I Do, I Do" are at 7:30 Feb. 16 and 3 p.m. Feb. 17. Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for students. For information and reservations, call 828/456-6322.