LOGAN — I Do! I Do! is a two person musical that was originally written by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt as a vehicle for Mary Martin and Robert Preston. Presented now by the Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre Company in their renovated Utah Theatre in downtown Logan, this story goes through 60 years of a married couple’s life, the ups and downs and challenges that are faced, and how they get through it.
Directed by George Pinney, the UFOMT production stars Michael Ballam as Michael and Suzan Hanson as Agnes, with two lovely live pianists, Emily Baltzer and Gerald Steichen, providing live music. When I first attended productions in the remodeled Utah Theatre in Logan as part of the UFOMT, they had not finished the pit part of the stage, and were still using canned music for their productions, and it detracted from the potential of the shows. Having the live music this year improved the quality of this production a great deal. Steichen also served as music director of this production, and the musicality of the productions at UFOMT are always top notch, but the live musicians will always bring that to a higher level of excellence.
Suzan Hanson, as Agnes, was an absolute delight in this production. As a classically trained soprano who has performed in operas and musicals in many places she is certainly no stranger to this level of role. But it is still hard to be one of only two people on stage, to be in a role that shows a character grow from a young woman into an elderly woman, and from a happy newlywed to a frustrated spouse who has been cheated on. Hanson handled all of these twists and turns with grace and dignity, and her golden voice handled it with such grace that I wanted to just listen to her sing over and over again. I was also impressed every time there was a change in her hair or makeup to reveal a change in age, because Hanson also changed her mannerisms to reveal that she was committed to that change in age within her acting prowess. Having just seen her in another UFOMT production, 33 Variations, I am not surprised by this level of acting capability, but I am impressed that she can do it so seemingly effortlessly.
Costume designer Mallory Maria Prucha had a fun time with the character of Agnes. Though all of the costumes were simply lovely, some of the standout designs included the dress worn to a fancy party and the hat that Agnes wore when she was singing about shopping. The show takes place over 60 or so years of time, so a great deal of fashion time frames are covered, and while the changes in men’s fashion do change slightly, it is the variety of costumes for Hanson’s character that shows Prucha’s skill.
Set designer Dennis Hansen, whose set was credited as being used in the UFOMT 1998 production as well, created a set that was interesting enough to hold the audience’s attention for entirety of the show, as the set does not really change throughout the production. The bed, the two dressing tables, and the dressing chair are about all we see of the little family home that the couple reside in and have their interactions in.
Michael Ballam as Michael, the husband, is a well known and respected actor in the area, and year after year, he draws an audience who come just to see what he will do next. His diction and strong attention to detail in his music is unmatched. However, his musicality was stronger than his acting, especially while playing a much younger leading man. Where Ballam shines is in the vocals, and also near the end of the show as the production winds down and the couple reminisces on how they have grown and changed and the memories they have built. He was far more comfortable and believable in that role than at the beginning of the performance, though his vocals were flawless throughout.
The script, lyrics, and script are a product of the time they were written and are showing a lot of their age when being produced in 2021. There were a few moments that felt almost uncomfortable, especially during some fighting where the character of Michael was fighting with Agnes and telling her what to do in a way that left me feeling completely ill at ease. When she turns to forgive him I had to remind myself that this was a different time, even though part of me wanted to scream, “Girl, no, go out that door!”
Overall, I Do! I Do! was entertaining and hopeful about the ups and downs of marriage and the joy that can overcome when life is lived in a relationship with another person.