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Review: 'I Do! I Do!' at Laguna Playhouse is worth the commitment

The Laguna Playhouse has a surefire proposal in "I Do! I Do!" Although this sturdy revival of Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt’s 1966 two-hander hardly revitalizes an oft-produced regional staple, audiences will flock.

Credit top-drawer stars Davis Gaines and Vicki Lewis, who play married Michael and Agnes with delightful empathy and resourcefulness.  “I Do! I Do!,” based on Jan de Hartog’s “The Fourposter,” is essentially a trio for husband, wife and marital bed (the centerpiece of designer Jim Prodger’s charming set) over 50 years, from wedding night to retirement departure.

It’s a commercially skewed vehicle, first sold by Robert Preston, Mary Martin and director Gower Champion’s bottomless bag of tricks. Gaines, who grows more chameleonic by the role, has little chance to let his molten baritone soar, but his antic bluster is appealing. Lewis similarly trades in her trademark wacky energy for a sensitive, plangent turn, with an arresting “What Is a Woman?” that suggests Patti LuPone’s softer-grained sibling.

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Director Alan Souza provides fleeting flash but ample breathing room, particularly the Act 1 numbers that trace the pair's near-breakup and their touching “My Cup Runneth Over.” Musical director Helen Gregory and Matthew Smedal sail through the two-piano arrangements.

Actually, the spare accompaniment exposes the show’s limitations by default. Despite Schmidt and Jones’ proficiency, the variable score and cliché-prone book pale beside “The Fantasticks” and “110 in the Shade.”

Regardless, both leads make “I Do! I Do!” an efficiently enjoyable date show. Anniversary celebrants and the newly engaged should reserve immediately.

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“I Do! I Do!,” Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach. 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays; also, 7 p.m. July 24, 2 p.m. July 25, Aug. 1 and 8. Ends Aug. 11. $40-$70. (949) 497-2787 or www.lagunaplayhouse.com. Running time: 2 hours, 20 minutes.

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