Star power energizes old-fashioned musical ‘I Do! I Do!’

Michael Ballam and Susan Hanson share the stage in the current Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre production of the musical "I Do! I Do!"

LOGAN – “I Do! I Do!” is an old fashioned musical now being presented by the Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre without pretense or apology.

Like this season’s earlier production of “The Fantasticks,” this one is also a product of the partnership between playwrights Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt.

It’s a two-person, single-set musical that’s perfect for the intimate setting of the Utah Theatre in downtown Logan.

Unfortunately, “I Do! I Do!” has always been less appreciated than “The Fantasticks” and for good reason. This show’s music is less catchy; the only familiar tune from its score is “My Cup Runneth Over.” Moreover, the play’s story – which chronicles the ups and downs of a 50-year marriage – became somewhat cliché-ridden when Jones adapted it from the original Jan de Hartog play “The Fourposter.”

“I Do! I Do!” survived on Broadway for about 500 performances in the late 1960s on the strength of its stars – Robert Preston and the legendary Mary Martin. The same is true for this current UFOMT production.

How can you go wrong with Cache Valley audiences when you put Michael Ballam on the stage?

Happily, the Logan impresario shares the spotlight with a professional actress of equal magnitude. Fresh from a remarkable performance in the UFOMT production of “33 Variations,” Susan Hanson delivers a wonderfully nuanced portrayal of Agnes, a wife and mother who struggles to cope with her evolving family.

Predictably, her chief challenge is the ever-changing moods and attitudes of her husband Michael. In that role, Ballam amusingly transitions from a terrified newlywed to a pompous male chauvinist in middle age before finally achieving some measure of enlightened sensitivity in his final years.

Ballam and Hanson are supported by the usual top-notch UFOMT production and artistic teams.

In keeping with the show’s old-fashioned tone, the festival opera has dusted off a lush set of the couple’s bedroom designed by Dennis Hassan for a 1998 production of “I Do! I Do!” After all, why mess with perfection?

Costumes appropriate for the play’s setting from 1895 to 1945 were beautifully designed by UFOMT veteran Mallory Maria Prucha.

Excellent musical accompaniment for the show was provided by pianists Emily Baltzer and Gerald Steichen.

Additional evening performances of “I Do! I Do!” are slated for July 14, 23, 26 and 29. Matinee performances are set for July 17, 21 and 31.

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