Marnie Benson
Cultural Confidential Contributor

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December 20, 2012
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High Desert Opera presents Broadway musical on the fun and follies of marriage

Celebrate the New Year with High Desert Opera as they bring the matrimonial saga, "I DO! I DO!," to Grand Junction's Avalon Theatre, curtain time 7:30 p.m., in a presentation that places marriage under the microscope, ready for your scrutiny.

James Werner and Michaela Sessum star in a show that made its mark in the mid-'60s when Robert Preston and Mary Martin starred in the original Broadway production, which ran 560 performances. The show, laden with rich history and numerous awards, promises to be an exciting experience in classic Broadway musical comedy!

The story originates from the Tony Award-winning play by Jan de Hartog titled "The Fourposter." It spans 50 years, focusing on the trials and tribulations, laughter and sorrow, and hopes and dreams as experienced by Agnes and Michael Snow throughout their marriage. The four-poster is the place where the couple resolve most of their marital crises and milestones. These relationship mile markers include their wedding night, the husband's infatuation with a younger woman and the wife's revengeful fantasy, the wedding of their daughter, and their final farewell to their beloved home as they leave the four-poster to another pair of newlyweds, as the cycle begins again.

American composer Harvey Schmidt, with his melodic and inspirational score, contributed his genius to the success of "I DO! I DO!." Such numbers like "The Honeymoon is Over" highlight the humor of the story, while the title song "I DO! I DO!," reinforces the tradition of the tale. But the piece that may be most poignant and recognizable is "My Cup Runneth Over With Love," a number that rose to the top of the pop charts in 1967. The unforgettable musical score, with its texture and accessibility, speaks for itself in both time and culture.

Scott Betts will conduct an accomplished orchestra through the delightful score which has been specially adapted for this production. Scott has conducted for High Desert Opera for 4 1/2 years. All the musicians are local artists, many of whom occupy a spot in the symphony. Live music will be combined with stand-up comedy in a fully-staged show to help complete a unique atmosphere.

While Schmidt provided the musical atmosphere for "I DO I DO!," successful lyricist Tom Jones supplied the humor, helping to transform the play into a comedy. The collaboration of these two artists resulted in the record-setting "Fantasticks" in 1960. Six years later, their own cups runneth over with the success of "I DO I DO!," as both were nominated for Best Composer and Best Lyricist for this work. The reflection of their work coupled with the timeless message can be exemplified in the show's 20-year running at a dinner theater just outside the Saint Paul/Minneapolis metropolitan area. Perhaps "timeless" is an understatement; "I DO I DO!" gives viewers an inside look at the long haul of marriage in any "package deal."

High Desert Opera's presentation of the Broadway musical "I DO I DO!" will have the comedic talents and Broadway experience of James Werner and the acting skills of Michaela Sessum at the forefront. Werner is the artistic director and founder of High Desert Opera, and has performed extensively on Broadway. His tongue-and-cheek portrayals of The Mikado of Japan in "The Mikado" and Figaro in "The Barber of Seville" have been witnessed locally. Sessum has a musical theater degree from Mesa State (now CMU), and has honed her acting skills through years of experience, performing with a troupe in the Fort Meyers/Florida area and fulfilling lead roles locally with The Theater Project. She also has performed with the Cabaret Dinner Theater, her most comedic role being "Barefoot In the Park."

These two performers bring their on-stage magic together under the Avalon lights to highlight the institution of marriage in a most charming and memorable take on the subject. Join them in a matrimonial adventure that revisits the power and enchantment of love - a story to which all of us can relate!

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The Post Independent Updated Dec 20, 2012 01:33PM Published Dec 20, 2012 01:31PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.