By Daniella Snyder
When I interviewed a few cast members of Villanova’s production of She Loves Me last week, I was told I’d have a good time, that the show was larger than life, that the music was one showstopper after the next.
Obviously, all of those things were true.
However, the cast members forgot to mention the meticulous research that went into the costumes and props, the hours spent learning choreography, and the immense depth of each character.
I didn’t expect to have such a profound connection to this musical. I think three-time Barrymore Award winning director Matt Decker explains this experience best:
“At the core of this story is two people who don’t become their authentic selves until they find someone they can be authentic with, that they feel safe enough to be truthful with. It’s really hard to be vulnerable, genuine with another person, so I’m really moved by their journey, for them to say, ‘This is who I am. Will you love me anyway?’ We’re constantly asking, what am I willing to share? How vulnerable am I willing to be? Am I my best self? Am I evolving? I love that this play demands that these characters go through that. And I think I like watching stuff like that because it makes me think about my own life.”
Decker’s right; She Loves Me made me think about my own life.
In She Loves Me, the main characters correspond through letters after connecting via a “Lonely Hearts” advertisement in the local newspaper. Despite “Lonely Hearts,” the letter writing, and the 1930s era costumes, the entire show felt surprisingly contemporary. In her essay, dramaturg Magdalena Schutzler made similarities between “Lonely Hearts” and modern dating apps like Tinder, Bumble, and Match.
While I was watching the show, I couldn’t help but think of one of my guiltiest pleasures, The Bachelor. I thought about the timelessness of searching for love, and the ridiculous lengths we will go to find it.
When I tune in to watch The Bachelor, I constantly wonder how women could compete against each other for the love of a man they met eight weeks prior. I often laugh while I watch, recognizing the absurdity of it all. Like any musical, it feels a little over the top, a little over emotional, and a little unbelievable.
However, I know that in watching a show like The Bachelor (and She Loves Me), the story doesn’t always end happily for everyone. There’s always heartbreak, and it always feels real, probably because I– like many others– know firsthand how incredibly terrible heartbreak is.
But, by the end of the season (similarly to when I watched She Loves Me), I am completely invested in the characters, and I so desperately seek for love to win. I want to see other people happy. I want to see them find true love.
I want that because it reminds me that true love is real. I want that because it reminds me that despite all rejection, and fear, and utter heartbreak, love is still possible. I want that because it gives me hope that someday I’ll find true love myself.
More often than not, a romantic comedy does not offer the opportunity to critically consider the intricacies and complexities of love.
She Loves Me not only offers the opportunity to consider the complexities of love, it demands it.
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