I Do, I Do at Village Theatre

I Do, I Do is an odd duck, to use a quaint old phrase. But quaint and old are both appropriate appellations in regard to this show. Even though it only dates back to an initial production in 1966, the show is quaint: sappy, sentimental (one of the songs is actually titled, “I love my wife!”), and hopelessly romantic, even during those portions of the show where husband and wife lock horns and go head-to head.

I Do, I Do is subtitled, “A Musical About Marriage,” and it is that. It is also more than that: it is an in-depth study of Agnes and Michael, from the moment of their marriage in 1898 to some fifty years later when they finally move out of the large home that has been their refuge from day 1. The show is rendered more intimate and personal by the fact that, for the entire two hours, we see and hear from only Agnes and Michael (portrayed on the Village stage by Kendra Kassebaum and Peter Saide). That’s right, it’s a two-person show, if you discount the couple’s two children, born off-stage and never seen on.

The daughter and son are very much a part of the proceedings, though; Agnes and Michael first argue about their kids, then grow sappily happy about their memories (“remember when he…”) And unforgettable is the Act II song that laments, “My daughter is marrying an idiot!” (“The Father of the Bride” is the song’s actual title).

Most memorable about I Do, I Do, though, is Village’s clever stage setting. Essentially, there are cabinets all over the stage, including on a two-sided, revolving, centerpiece that holds their bed, their dining room, and Michael’s writing desk (Michael makes a living as an author of romance books while longing to be a serious novelist). There is minimalist choreography — Agnes and Michael dance a bit, including once atop their bed — that perfectly befits the minimalist stage setting and minimalist story.

And it is a minimalist story, from the pens of Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, best known for their blockbuster minimalist show, “The Fantasticks” (42 years of continual production off-Broadway). But note that minimalist is not a condemnation but an accolade: one word, one character more, and the show would be over-done. Even as in “The Fantasticks,” Jones and Schmidt have given us exactly what we need — and only what we need — to tell the story they want to tell, that of two people who marry and love for all of their lives. “Together Forever,” as the Act I song puts it. Oh, there are rough patches, like Michael’s affair in act I (the song there is, “Nobody’s Perfect”), and late in Act II when Agnes wants to run away to find herself … but through thick and thin, the two are one. As they sing together early on, “My Cup Runneth Over” with love.

See I Do, I Do and your cup, too, will runneth over … with love, with schmaltz, with the possibilities of a quieter, gentler world. I admit to being a fan of the show, both in general and in this delightful Village production. Do yourself a favor, see it. See it again. It’s one of those rare shows where you will leave feeling better about yourself and the world in general.

 

I Do, I Do at Village Theatre, through February 24 at the Francis J. Gaudette Theatre in Issaquah, moving to Everett’s Performing Arts Center March 1 – 24. Tickets: Issaquah, 425-392-2202; Everett, 425-257-8600.

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