Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast

I Do! I Do!
Manatee Players
William S. Oser | Season Schedule

Also see Bill's reviews of John & Jen and Ana Isabelle and Friends in Concert

Sarah Cassidy and Chris Caswell
Photo Courtesy of Manatee Performing Arts Center
Manatee Players is offering I Do! I Do!, music by Harvey Schmidt, book and lyrics by Tom Jones, in a production that stars one of Producing Artistic Director Rick Kerby's favorite leading ladies, Sarah Cassidy. Ms. Cassidy has memorably portrayed lovely heroines, including Fantine in Les Misérables, Mary Poppins, Peggy Sawyer in 42nd Street, and many more. Opposite her in this production is Chris Caswell, whose onstage career has been situated a little further south and includes Sweeney Todd and Hannibal Lecter in Silence! The Musical, as well as some less threatening parts.

I saw I Do! I Do@ pre-Broadway, in Boston, many years ago. As I currently do not connect strongly to my 15-year-old self, plus I was blinded by the star power of two of Broadway's most beloved performers (Mary Martin and Robert Preston), seeing it now is like seeing it cold. The musical is based on a moderately successful play, The Fourposter, a 1950s vehicle for Hume Cronin and Jessica Tandy. It has been said that when adapting a play into a musical, make sure you are improving on the original, something that, based on published reviews, Jones and Schmidt, with legendary Gower Champion as director and the irascible David Merrick as producer, seem to have forgotten. Parts of the score are rather dull and little of it is emotionally honest. The opening sequence, featuring the marriage of Agnes and Michael, seems to go on far too long. The show spawned one song that got a good deal of radio play: "My Cup Runneth Over," a top ten hit for Ed Ames in 1967.

Ms. Cassidy and Mr. Caswell make a valiant try in making this musical more than mediocre, but the whole affair just resists their efforts.

Mr. Kerby directs according to the needs of the piece, which is set in a bedroom with a marital bed the predominant image. Lots of props help vary things a bit and lots of costume changes, by Suzie Sajec, liven things up. Donna Buckalter designed the set: faux red drapes across the rear proscenium which frames the action nicely.

Aaron Cassette is at the grand piano, rear center stage, and this makes a welcome return of live accompaniment. As always, he does a great job.

Manatee Performing Arts Center has revealed that next season will open in their usual mid-August slot with Pippin, a musical they did five or six years ago and one that remains ever popular in these parts.

I Do! I Do! runs through May 9, 2021, online and at Manatee Performing Arts Center, 502 3rd Ave W., Bradenton FL. For tickets and information call 941-748-0111 or visit

Sarah Cassidy: Agnes
Michael: Chris Caswell