Joseph Kelly, whose past work as Music Director for South Bay Musical Theatre has twice been nominated as a Theatre Bay Area finalist, tackles another tuneful score with the show SHE LOVES ME, running January 25 through February 15, 2020 at the Saratoga Civic Theater.
In this interview, Joe shares his thoughts on the show’s composers, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick (better known for Fiddler on the Roof). He reveals his favorite song from the show (which may surprise you!) and talks not only about the show’s journey to Broadway but also his own journey from French horn player to Music Director. Finally, he describes the talented cast and orchestra members breathing life into this production, and tells why you should get your tickets now.
Tickets for SHE LOVES ME are available online at southbaymt.com/shows/ticket-sales/she-loves-me/ or by calling 408-266-4734.
Watch the five-minute interview below, or scroll down the page to read the transcript.
Transcript of interview with Joe Kelly, She Loves Me Musical Director
Hi. I’m Joe Kelly. I am the musical director for She Loves Me. I really like the charm of this show. The music is very tuneful, something you can hum on the way out. And the story is just very, very delightful.
Tell us about the show’s composers.
Well I think the big place you are going to recognize (Jerry) Boch’s name Is with Fiddler on the Roof. But he wrote a lot of other shows that are a little more obscure. But the quality is always high.
Are the violins similar to Fiddler on the Roof?
The solos that you hear in Fiddler on the Roof were a lot more melancholy though there’s a couple of moments in this show with that as well, but in this show—in She Loves Me—the violin obbligato solos are just very… almost like another voice character in the show. They are very lyrical and very flashy in a way. And the mood is definitely not melancholy the way they are in Fiddler on the Roof.
How talented are the actors and musicians?
So the talent level of this production is really, really high. The cast is absolutely charming and 100% believable. And I have some of my favorite musicians playing for me in the pit. It’s a smaller pit, about 11 players. But they are just all really high-quality players. They are also really good people, which makes it a fun to make good art with. But the talent is, you know, for a community theater, absolutely incomparable.
How has She Loves Me evolved over the years?
This show was done in the 60s. There was a revival only a few years ago, but it wasn’t terribly different. And the version that you will see in the show in the musical theater world is this version. Like, the story has really stood the test of time.
What’s your favorite song from the show?
My favorite song in the show is “Library.” I don’t even know if that’s the title of the song. But it’s the whole thing where Ilona is singing about her new boyfriend, Paul, and her trip to the library. That is my favorite song of the show.
My trip to the library… has made a new girl of me… for suddenly I can see… the magic of books.
It’s just… it’s so silly,. It feels like a fake version of… an alternative version of “Marian the Librarian” from the Music Man, to be honest with you. It just has, like, a total opposite feel. You don’t think of the library as a place you’re gonna go and pick up your next love. But it’s exactly what happens. It’s also great because you don’t actually ever see this other character. You don’t meet Paul. You just hear about him.
Where will the orchestra be positioned?
All right. For any of you who know me, I like conducting in front. But logistically, for this show, we will be behind the stage. Off stage left, there is a room back there, behind the stage itself. So when you come and see this show, make sure you wave your hand at intermission or after the show is over, up at the TV screen. We call it the “Joe cam.” And you will probably see me acknowledging you, the audience, and we would love some acknowledgment back.
What’s your past experience with SBMT?
So, I have been affiliated with South Bay Musical Theatre back since about 2005 as a French horn player, and I played a number of shows. And then, about three years ago, I started music directing. In fact, I think this is my sixth show in the last three years. So, almost a resident conductor of the shows recently. You know, I think this experience has been… in terms of the logistics of what I do, very similar to all of the shows I’ve done, and I really appreciate that SBMT gives me the room to be artistic, and to bring in my flair when I finally join the full ensemble with the orchestra. I love the latitude that I am given to be not just a performer but to be creative within that musical directing process.
Why should people come see She Loves Me?
You should come see She Loves Me for just a good, innocent time out. There’s so much strife in our world right now you can forget about it for a couple of hours and leave smiling. If you are a fan of You’ve Got Mail, the classic movie from the 90s with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, then you’re gonna really, really enjoy this production of— the story is based on the same material. And frankly, the musical version is actually much better. So, you’ll enjoy it!