At Broadway She Loves Me Concert, a Romantic Atmosphere — and a Breakout Performance

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06 Dec 2011

Josh Radnor
Josh Radnor
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

The ovation for Kelli O'Hara's rendition of the musical-comedy coloratura classic "Ice Cream" was still going strong when Josh Radnor made his entrance — prematurely, it turns out — for the next scene in Roundabout Theatre Company's buoyant benefit concert of She Loves Me on Dec. 5 at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre.

What's a leading man to do? Run back into the wings, of course, and give the lady her moment, which O'Hara gleefully took, with a giddy bow. This was one of a dozen or so charming moments in a musical comedy that has been hailed for its charm since 1963, when lyricist Sheldon Harnick, librettist Joe Masteroff and composer Jerry Bock first saw it produced on Broadway. Harnick and Masteroff appeared on stage with the company for a bow at the curtain call on Monday night; Bock died in 2010

If reviews were ever written about such benefit concerts, they would likely say that a musical comedy star was born with Radnor's well-sung and quirkily lovestruck performance as Georg, the chief clerk in a Budapest perfume shop who bonds with his co-workers and spars with a new shopgirl, Amalia (O'Hara) — until he realizes they have been anonymous romantic pen pals. Radnor, who plays sincere Ted in the TV sitcom "How I Met Your Mother," is making his Broadway musical comedy debut after having appeared only once on Broadway, as a replacement in The Graduate. Even-handed sincerity is hard to maintain in a musical, but Radnor did it. The Roundabout audience ate him up, particularly in his antsy rendition of the title song (which followed the knockout "Ice Cream").

Josh Radnor and Kelli O'Hara
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Roundabout revived the romantic musical back in 1993 (under the direction of emerging Scott Ellis, who again directed for this event), ushering in an era of musicals for the not-for-profit company. The organization has now grown to operate three Broadway homes (the Sondheim, the American Airlines and Studio 54). This 2011 concert was in celebration of Roundabout's 20th anniversary of producing on Broadway, starting in 1991 at the now-gone Criterion Center. Proceeds from the starry She Loves Me support Roundabout programs including its musical theatre initiative. (Since 1993, Roundabout has produced 24 musicals, including the current Tony Award-winning Anything Goes, at the Sondheim.)

At the top of the evening, RTC artistic director Todd Haimes told the crowd that the concert brought in about $500,000 for the company.

"They should revive it with this cast," said one happy theatregoer, walking up the aisle at the end of the night.


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