Infinity Theatre continues to add sparkle to summer theater in Anne Arundel County, as the current show offered by co-producers Alan Ostroff and Anna Roberts Ostroff offers audiences an "adventure of marriage that is built upon the magical spell of young love."
The musical "I Do! I Do!" celebrates 50 years of a couple's marriage. The show was written by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, the same pair who authored "The Fantasticks," which was Infinity's first show and starred Anna and Alan Ostroff as young lovers.
Here, the producing couple not only return to a favorite writing team but also to original "Fantasticks" director Tina Marie Casamento. The show is truly a family affair, as Casamento's husband, David Libby, directed the music for "Fantasticks" and is in his fourth season as Infinity's music director.
The show's 50 years of wedded bliss skips through decades, with songs triggering amusingly predictable discussions that many in the audience will recognize.
The original 1966 production told a story that spanned the years from 1895 to 1945. Alan Ostroff has chosen to update the production, moving the characters' wedding date to 1956 — so the 50-year span now ends in our contemporary era. It's a change that — along with the updated choreography — lends relevance to cultural references and fashions, brightening the overall production.
The original "I Do! I Do!" was directed and choreographed by Gower Champion and starred Mary Martin and Robert Preston, who delivered songs such as the upbeat "Love Isn't Everything" and the sentimental hit "My Cup Runneth Over." Show-stoppers include "A Well Known Fact" expounding on the idea of men growing more attractive after age 40; and "Flaming Agnes," expressing a woman's retort to the "well-known fact."
Such male-versus-female banter still evokes laughs, as do such references as "sleeping helmets," a necessity to protect bouffant hairdos of the 1960s. More importantly, this is a heartwarming story of a couple's enduring love, invested through a home life and the raising of a family while weathering quarrels, day-to-day problems and, later, midlife crises.
Told through a series of incidents with no real storyline, the story's success is a testament to the two players' skills.
Cast as Agnes, Daniella Dalli exceeds vocal and acting requirements, winning our hearts as the lovely young bride, and later earning our later admiration as she develops as a wife and mother, coping with good humor as her family's expectations and her own evolving needs.
Craig Laurie creates an equally credible and attractive Michael, delivering every song with meaningful sentiment and notable style to communicate young Michael's adoration of his bride and his ultimate respect and mature enduring love.
The opening is smartly staged, with bride and groom entering from the back of the theater and stopping midway down side aisles to voice bright expectations and deliver their opening songs. They ascend the steps to the stage, where a minimalist wedding chapel altar serves as the site of the couple's exchange of marriage vows.
The set consisting of a bed as the centerpiece with an attractive backdrop and coordinating furnishings is where all action occurs — from wedding night until retirement 50 years later. Pacing is at a lively clip, except for the opening wedding night scene that seems longer by being dated by absurd naivete.
A charming innocent reality arrives with Michael's exultant "I Love My Wife" that moves the story forward. Laurie invests distinctive pomposity in "A Well Known Fact," then reflects increased maturity in "Father of the Bride," lamenting that his daughter is marrying an idiot — to uproarious laughter.
Equally adept at comedy, Dalli in "Flaming Agnes" practices her sensuous moves in a wildly printed spangle-adorned costume. She's pensive in "What is a Woman?" and joins her co-star in beguiling dance routines for "I Love My Wife" and "Someone Needs Me."
Both grow old before our eyes, becoming credible senior citizens through makeup and white wigs. They leave their home of 50 years for retirement — but not before pausing for a "selfie" — a smartphone photo memento.
Dalli and Laurie are smartly and skillfully accompanied at every performance by pianist Paul Campbell. The program also lists Annapolis star pianist Anita O'Connor as alternate.
"I Do! I Do!" performances continue Thursday-Sunday through Aug. 3 at the CTA Theatre Complex on Bayhead Road in Annapolis. Tickets: 877-501-8499 or infinitytheatrecompany.com.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun