Arts » Theater

Observations on marriage and its discontents in Theatre Raleigh's I Do! I Do!

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For nine years, Theatre Raleigh/Hot Summer Nights has recalled native actors who made good in the big city (including founder Lauren Kennedy) to work with talented locals.

After April's stand of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, I Do! I Do! is slight in comparison: just two actors and one pianist who purport to cover a half-century in a marriage in two hours. With so few distractions, the material has to be compelling.

That's a problem for the otherwise winning husband-and-wife team of Annie and Erik Floor, who are handcuffed to work that hasn't aged gracefully. Tom Jones' book and lyrics weren't all that strong to start with—a catalog of already predictable observations on marriage and its discontents—when the musical premiered in 1966. Mary Martin, Robert Preston and director Gower Champion overcame the work's deficits with star power and creative staging (including a memorable no-shoe soft-shoe routine).

But one sexual revolution or three later, the material is dated. To their credit, the Floors know how to sell a song. Erik shticks up the cheesy sentiments in "I Love My Wife," Annie delivers on the over-the-top divorce fantasy "Flaming Agnes" and the two glow on the show's hit, "My Cup Runneth Over."

But cultural changes have long since outstripped most of the views in this script, including the pre-feminist Act 2 anthem, "What Is a Woman."

For older audience members, this time capsule may well depict some long-cherished beliefs. Younger generations aren't likely to find much insight or novelty left in this enterprise.

This article appeared in print with the headline "Summer stock market."

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