Christmas musical: Crucible Theatre Sheffield stars say you'll fall in love with She Loves Me

The first Christmas musical at Sheffield’s Crucible for two years is romantic comedy She Loves Me – and two of its stars say you’ll love it.

By Julia Armstrong
Thursday, 16th December 2021, 1:15 pm

The show premiered on Broadway in 1963 and has had several revivals but it never became a big hit, despite being created by the songwriters of Fiddler on the Roof and the writer of Cabaret.

Director Rob Hastie loves it and reckons it’s not better known because the musical never got made into a Hollywood film, although the original story inspired three films, You’ve Got Mail, The Shop Around the Corner and In the Good Old Summertime.

A 2016 production at the Menier Chocolate Factory in London won glowing four-and five-star reviews in the national press.

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Alex Young, left, and Kaisa Hammarlund in Sheffield Crucible Christmas musical She Loves Me

In the story, set in the 1930s, Amalia and Georg work in a perfumery in a picturesque Hungarian town. They don’t get on at all.

But they do have one thing in common. Both have answered a lonely hearts advert and now live for the letters they exchange anonymously, each blissfully unaware of the other’s identity.

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Kaisa Hammarlund, who plays Ilona in the show, is appearing at the Crucible for the first time. She said: “I’m really excited about that.”

Alex Young stars in the Sheffield Crucible Theatre Christmas musical She Loves Me

In contrast, Alex Young, who plays Amalia, has become a regular at the theatre. Alex has starred in Crucible musicals Standing at the Sky’s Edge, Guys and Dolls, Show Boat and Anything Goes, as well as playing Brutus in Shakespeare drama Coriolanus.

She said: “It’s my second home! I’m very lucky about that. I was here when the pandemic started, I was doing Coriolanus. Our run was cut in half.

"I even left a lot of my clothes here. I thought I was just coming home for a week and never came back.

“It didn’t really matter because I was pregnant at the time. I need to get back into those jeans!”

Kaisa Hammarlund, right, and Gleanne Purcell-Brown in the Sheffield Crucible Theatre Christmas musical She Loves Me

“It’s a perfect show for Christmas”

Speaking during rehearsals, the duo said that the songs in the show are pretty well known among musical theatre performers, who often use them in auditions.

Alex said: “I hadn’t ever seen it. I didn’t know it at all."

She said the writing is warm and witty and the music is “just terrific”.

Alex Young in She Loves Me at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield

Kaisa added: “It’s a firm favourite in theatrical circles and it’s a perfect show for Christmas – it’s set in and around Christmas. It’s got a really cosy feel to it.

“You think you know the stock characters of a musical. They’re quite sweet in many ways but it’s not what you think it’s going to be, it’s a surprise.

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“The writers have written Cabaret and Fiddler on the Roof so they know what they’re doing. It’s very well written and there are beautiful, beautiful songs in there.

"There’s a couple that Alex will sing that will lift the roof off. There’s very funny songs as well.”

Alex agreed with Rob Hastie’s theory about why the show isn’t better known, adding: “It came just at the end of a time that people refer to as the golden age on Broadway – Rodgers and Hart, Rodgers and Hammerstein and Jerry Ross.”

She added: “It’s depressing to see the power that a film has on a show’s success or value.”

Both actors are thrilled to be doing what they love after theatres were closed during the pandemic for such a long time.

How can you get tickets for She Loves Me at the Crucible Theatre Sheffield?

Kaisa said: “I haven’t done anything on stage for two years. Being back in rehearsal rooms, on stage and in costume fittings, having beautiful costumes made – it’s beautiful to be part of.

"I do this to be in a theatre where every single department cares about the artform.”

However, learning lines again has been a bit of an effort, Kaisa admitted!

Alex is thrilled to be back in Sheffield. She said: “The Crucible is the best theatre in the world for an audience. There’s not a bad side.

"There’s no barrier between us and them, which is great for us. I’m looking forward to hearing the Crucible laugh – it ripples round you like a giant hug when you feel it again.”

She Loves Me is at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield until January 15. Box office: visit the theatre, go online at sheffieldtheatres.co.uk or call 0114 249 6000. There are also details of Covid precautions on the website.