This 1963 musical with music and lyrics by Jerry Bock
and Sheldon Harnick
and a book by Joe Masteroff (Cabaret
) is based upon a 1940 Ernst Lubitsch-Samson Raphaelson movie called The Shop Around the Corner
. Both stories involve a man and woman who, as co-workers, despise each other, but have unknowingly fallen in love through anonymous letter writing
. Incidentally, the same plot was recently reworked to include a Web based relationship in the movie You've Got Mail
starring Tom Hanks
and Meg Ryan
The musical version, directed by Harold Prince, set the story inside a Budapest parfumerie. With its bright, melodious score the characters are fleshed out without revealing the secret of the two lovers, Georg and Amalia, until midway through the first act. The audience is made aware of the truth behind the situation long before the actual characters are- making the realization that Georg is in love with the same woman that he hates all the more poignant. Eventually, when the truth of their relationship is made aware to both parties, they are able to reconcile their differences and establish a complete, physical connection to match their intellectual affair.
What the musical manages to do quite well is to offer the audience glimmers of the integral questions of knowledge raised by the story without delving too deep into philosophical ponderings. The fact that the two main characters have become enamoured with literary representations of each other forces the inquisitive theatergoer to question their theories on the foundations of love. A subplot including another in-shop relationship offers a contrasting type of connection through a depiction of a failed, physically based affair.
Songs such as "Will He Like Me?" beautifully illustrate the frustration of someone who is only able to fully express themselves through the written word. Listening to this show now forces me to think about E2 and the relationships we establish through this medium. How truthful are we in the nodes we write? Are the connections that we feel substantial or would they fail in the physical world? Hopefully, as in the case of the musical, we would be able to find a tangible common ground and flourish in real life as we do online.