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An ode to marriage
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Even after 50 years of marriage, Michael and Agnes still have something to sing about.

The couple is at the heart of I Do! I Do!, and in fact are the only two characters in the musical written in 1966 by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones. The musical is based on a 1951 Broadway play, The Fourposter, written by Jan de Hartog, which starred the legendary acting duo (and real life married couple) Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy.

Schmidt and Jones had written an earlier smash hit called The Fantasticks. Although it is considered their finest work by most critics, I Do! I Do! was even more successful during its Broadway run than The Fantasticks.

Robert Preston and Mary Martin appeared in the roles of Michael and Agnes in the musical version. In 1999, Schmidt and Jones were inducted into the Broadway Hall of Fame in recognition of their contributions to musical theater.

In the AASU version of I Do! I Do!, the role of Agnes is played by Bess McCreary and the role of Michael is played by Jonathan Brazell. The director is Kirk White.

I Do! I Do! follows 40 years of marriage between Agnes and Michael,” McCreary says. “It is 1898 when the play begins.”

McCreary is a theatrical performance major from Marietta. “I really would like to pursue a career on the stage,” she says. “I enjoy the adrenaline rush. I’d like to go to New York and be on Broadway.”

Brazell is pursuing a dual major in music and theater. He recently appeared in the Masquers’ As You Like It, and he says that turning around and doing I Do! I Do! on top of Shakespeare has been an interesting experience.

“I was born here in Savannah and lived here until I was 18 months old,” Brazell says. “We moved near Atlanta and I grew up in Covington. Now I’m back.”

Brazell plans to pursue master’s and doctoral degrees. “I will probably teach,” he says. “If I do, I want to teach at the college level.”

Before she discovered acting, McCreary was a singer. “I’ve been singing ever since I was 5,” she says. “I was always singing. In high school, I started acting.”

Before I Do! I Do!, McCreary appeared in the Masquers’ productions of Five Women Wearing the Same Dress and Butterflies are Free. “I really enjoy doing musicals,” she says. “They are such a step from reality. Not everyone can suddenly burst out singing.”

McCreary first learned about AASU and its theater program at the Georgia Thespian Conference while she was in high school. She auditioned during the conference, and AASU called her back.

“Finding out it was in Savannah was a plus,” McCreary says. “I love Savannah.”

Having just two people in the cast makes the production challenging, McCreary says. “It’s a lot of pressure,” she says. “It’s something I’ve never done before.

“It is difficult because most musicals have big company numbers and ours are duets,” McCreary says. “You have to bring all your energy so the audience can get excited about it. It’s a lot more difficult because if you mess up, it’s going to be obvious.”

“It is more challenging, but it’s also more fun,” Brazell says. “We get the whole stage and the whole show.

“The interaction between characters is important,” he says. “With only two characters, you really to get to fine-tune that.”

Brazell describes opening night as “awesome.”

“It’s the best feeling in the world,” he says.

McCreary has been in many productions outside of AASU. Of all her performances, Five Women Wearing the Same Dress ranks as one of her favorites.

“That role was something I’d never played before,” she says. “Because I’m blonde and blue eyed, I usually get softer, more innocent roles. That character was not so innocent.

“Also, it was a comedy,” McCreary says. “I don’t exactly consider myself a comedienne.”

I Do! I Do! also ranks high with McCreary. “Of the top 10 shows I’ve done, this one will be No. 3,” she says. “This one’s way up there.”

The hit musical I Do! I Do! will be presented by the Armstrong Atlantic State University Masquers on July 22, 23 and 24 at 7:30 p.m. at the AASU Jenkins Theater. General admission is $12 and seniors/military/students and all of AASU will get in for $10. Advance tickets are available at the Fine Arts Lobby Box Office, which is open weekdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call 927-5381.