Two hopelessly lonely people meet in the mind while rubbing each other up the wrong way in person in the Chichester Festival Theatre summer season opener, She Loves Me which runs in the Minerva Theatre from May 9-June 18.
It’s the story that gave rise to the Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks film You’ve Got Mail; but here, back in the 1930s, it’s letters, not emails, of course.
Georg and Amalia work in a parfumerie. Adversaries by day, at night they write ardent love letters to their anonymous sweethearts. They both fall in love with their mystery pen pals, unaware that each is the other’s secret correspondent.
“It’s very different to You’ve Got Mail,” says Joe McFadden who plays Georg, “but the central relationship is a similar idea, these two people who really don’t like each other in their day-to-day life.
“Certainly when my character finds out who the girl he has been writing to is it is a big shock. That’s the fun of the piece. The audience know all along that these two people that work together and that seem to hate each other are writing to each other. It’s a really charming story with fantastic music. I barely knew it before, but lots of people say that it is their favourite musical.
“In their letters there is a real meeting of minds: they both have a love of poetry, they both have a love of literature. It’s like when you speak to someone on the phone and you don’t know them, you can start to imagine that they are perfect. Human beings are funny old things.”
But the daily reality is that Georg finds Amalia too bolsy, “so confident, so brash.”
“And the thing that strikes me about my character is that he is so dedicated to his job that it is to the detriment of his private life. That’s how he is in his 30s and doesn’t have a wife at a time when people married young.”
For Joe, the show is a happy return to the CFT where he previously appeared on the main-house stage in Festival 05’s How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. His other credits include Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Rent on stage and Heartbeat, Casualty and Cranford on television.
Tickets on www.cft.org.uk or on 01243 781312.