I Do! I Do! is exactly the sort of musical that gives the genre a bad name – fortunately, it’s also exactly the sort of musical that gives the genre a good name too!
We join Michael (Tim Prottey-Jones) and Agnes (Lara Bianca Pilcher) on their wedding night, as they prepare for bed. This being the 1950s, both are almost comically innocent, confessing that they have never seen another person unclothed, never mind each other. But, after a coy fumble or two, children come along, there’s an affair, there’s some anxiety about money, hopes are built and dashed – but nothing really goes off the rails, before, in late middle-age, they leave their home, and us. There’s always a nanny or a maid offstage and Agnes doesn’t need to work, as Michael’s romantic novels provide enough for a comfortable middle-class 20th century life – nice for them and the story of many American families, if hardly one to crank up the dramatic tension.
And that’s why people who deride musicals will deride I Do! I Do! It’s all a bit safe, a bit twee and ever so slightly pleased with itself. But those who love musicals will revel in the gentle humour, the protection of entering a clean, almost problem-free, make-believe world and a feelgood story in which everyone really does live happily ever after. There’ll be plenty of knowing glances between couples too, as the little foibles that lead to fall outs are enumerated, and the little compromises that get couples back together again are explained.
Tim Prottey-Jones and Lara Bianca Pilcher generate plenty of chemistry onstage and sing beautifully, ably accompanied by an understated band led by Matt Abrams. The songs are of the Perry Como school of mid-sixties middle-of-the-road crooning – agreeable enough, if short of a showstopper or two. It’s all done well and romantic comedies are always popular – so, why not?