Written by Daniella Litvak
How I Do! I Do! made it to the stage is a tale many other musicals share. The story originated in the Broadway play The Fourposter, which debuted in 1951, and a film version followed shortly afterwards. Then in the 60s The Fourposter was adapted into the musical I Do! I Do. It was nominated for several Tonys and won the award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical.
Spanning fifty years, I Do! I Do! is the story of Agnes (Adriana Sanchez) and Michael (Brady Porter)’s marriage. The audience is introduced to them as happy newlyweds on their wedding night; they are almost disgustingly lovey-dovey. However, as time moves forward, their love is put to the test as they face aging, childrearing, and other obstacles threatening their marital bliss.
I Do! I Do! is not a particularly deep or novel story about marriage. The problems Agnes and Michael face are very familiar ones: she spends too much money; he cares more about his career than his wife and so on. The play is structured so that each scene represents a snapshot of their marriage. While this allows the show to take place over a longer passage of time, it also prevents any particular conflict from lasting longer than one or a few songs. Still the show foreshadows developments well, and the show does a really good job of making something that is really cliché into a “whoa” moment.
Overall they clearly articulate what is currently happening onstage while being funny or romantic. And the reprises towards the end of Act One are heartbreaking. Sanchez and Porter sing them well. The songs themselves allow for a lot of different dancing styles such as soft shoe and waltz. When dancing Sanchez and Porter stay in character instead of coming off like trained professionals. It has the positive effects of grounding the characters and adding more comedy to the musical numbers.
The entire show is dependent on Agnes and Michael’s interactions to carry the show. Fortunately, Sanchez and Porter play off one another very nicely. Like the plot, Agnes and Michael are not particularly deep characters, but Sanchez and Porter bring charm and enthusiasm to their roles. Sanchez really makes you feel for Agnes during the times she experiences betrayal or wonders about her place in the world. Michael is a jerk a lot of the time, but Porter pulls off the feat of making him despicable but still a character you want to watch.
There is one other character deserving of a mention, and that is the Maid (Peggy Wachtel). The Maid is not a character so much as a device for scene transitions –a very entertaining one at that. She does not say a word, but Wachtel manages to convey a lot character in just how she goes about her job. From the way she tries on Agnes’ fur stole or plays with a toy cowboy gun, it’s obvious she has a rich fantasy life. And from her demeanor and attitude, we get the impression she has a sardonic opinion of her employers. All in all, the Maid allows for the scene transitions to be part of the story instead of time spent on waiting for the story to come back.
I Do! I Do! is like it’s central subject. It is not perfect. There are good times and less good times. While it might be too much of a familiar story, it still sucks you in.