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Column

‘I Do, I Do’ offers a nostalgic look at marriage

Simple, charming love story has fun musical numbers

When it comes to watching love stories, the Hallmark channel is my go-to station.

Why? Because I know what I’ll get every single time. Charming characters who are cheesy, yet believable. Simple and cozy plots that don’t leave me hanging. And threatening conflicts that always work themselves out in time for a happy and satisfying ending.

If you’re a Hallmark fan, like me, or you enjoy these sorts of fulfilling love stories, then Festival 56’s “I Do, I Do, A Musical About Marriage” is right up your alley.

The show, written by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt in 1966, opened Sunday on a balmy afternoon in Princeton at the Prairie Arts Center.

“I Do, I Do” features a two-person cast, consisting of Michael (John Cormier) and Agnes (Jennifer Brunker), a young couple set to marry when the show begins.

Set in a cozy bedroom, which comes with a writing desk for Michael and a vanity table for Agnes, this musical transports audiences through the trials and tribulations of a 50-year marriage in a two-hour performance.

Beginning with the precious moments before the couple exchanges “I dos,” which is quickly followed up by their wedding night. Then the birth of their first child, which is quickly followed up by the “uh oh” second pregnancy announcement. Sound familiar? It certainly hit home for me and my husband, who accompanied me to Sunday’s matinee.

This performance will surely make any couple feel nostalgic about their own marriage — no matter which stage it’s in.

Michael and Agnes’ marriage changes and matures as it undergoes a number of highs and lows, such as the birth of two children, career advances, career lows, an affair, milestone celebrations, a midlife crisis and empty nest syndrome.

Cormier and Brunker carry a difficult show that includes singing, barefoot dancing in the bedroom and onstage costume changes. But through it all, their chemistry brings to life a convincing relationship of Michael and Agnes.

And before you know it, right before your eyes, they age into an old married couple preparing to downsize from their forever home into a small apartment.

I thoroughly enjoyed this simple yet charming love story. I also give props to music director Chris Pinder who sits off on left stage and accompanies on piano several fun musical numbers including “I Love My Wife,” “My Cup Runneth Over,” “Nobody’s Perfect,” “Flaming Agnes,” “The Father of the Bride” and “This House.”

Remaining show times are 2 p.m. Saturday, July 20, and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 23, Thursday, July 25, and Friday, July 26, in the Prairie Arts Center at 24 Park Ave. East in Princeton.

Tickets are $29, $26 (seniors 65 plus) and $14 (students). Call the box office at 815-879-5656. The box office is open from Monday to Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. or one hour before show times.

Note to readers: Goldie Rapp is senior staff writer at the Bureau County Republican and can be reached at grapp@bcrnews.com or follow her on Twitter @bcr_grapp.

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