The story floating in the mists of Broadway history are that the great acting teams who have played the lead roles in the classic musical “I Do, I Do” found it incredibly difficult to leave the roles, they loved them so much.
Broadway legends Mary Martin and Robert Preston – the originators of the roles of Agnes and Michael Snow – ran an unheard-of (in the day) 560 performances before other contractual obligations forced them to leave the stage. Carol Lawrence and Gordon MacRae took over the roles and ran for nearly as long. Carol Burnett and Rock Hudson took the show on a national road tour that ran for nearly two years before film commitments demanded they finally give the show up.
And now, two of Key West’s best-loved actors will take up the legacy when Maribeth Graham and David Black mount the stage at the Red Barn Theatre February 21st in an endearing revival of this classic of a musical. It remains to be seen how difficult it will be for these two pros to give up the roles after the show’s four-week run ends in mid-March.
So what is it that makes this little show garner such devotion and love, not only from the actors who play the roles but from audiences and critics as well? With book and lyrics by Tom Jones (no, not that Tom Jones) and music by Harvey Schmidt, it was written in the mid-60’s about a couple’s fifty-year marriage from 1895 to 1945, and their roller coaster ride through the ups and downs of marriage. Jones had already swept the awards table with “The Fantasticks” a couple of years earlier, and with “I Do, I Do”, he garnered another seven Tony nominations.
“I think it’s that everyone can relate to it,” said Black. “Anyone who’s been in a marriage, or a relationship, or even a friendship. Two people come together, and soon they have to deal with what they love about each other, and yes, what they dislike about each other. It’s about what’s underneath that holds it all together. It’s really a very sweet story.”
And with nineteen very hummable and recognizable Broadway tunes, it’s a musical lover’s dream, according to Graham. “The melodies are simply beautiful,” she said. “There’s a lot of the pure genius of “The Fantasticks” in it. It’s very uplifting.”
The show’s director, Red Barn Artistic Director Joy Hawkins, got to see the final performance of Martin and Preston in their inaugural run years ago. “I just loved it,” she said. “And to this day I know every note and word in every song. There is just something about it that gets you….a richness, a cleverness to the story and the music. There’s a reason it’s a classic.”
Rick Worth, along with Gary and Jack McDonald has created a beautiful set anchored by the centerpiece four-poster bed around which the entire story revolves. And Carmen Rodriguez has once again proven picture-perfect with her choice of costuming.
Tickets for all performances of “I Do, I Do” can be had by visiting redbarntheatre.com/tickets or by calling 305-296-9911. All curtains are at 8 pm. The Opening Night performance on February 21st will be followed by an after-show party catered by Danny Becker and Three Fine Cooks. All ticket holders that night are encouraged to attend and mingle with the show’s cast and crew.
“I Do, I Do” is sponsored by WLRN, and in part by the Monroe County Tourist Development Council.