The main romantic storyline is familiar, of course: George Horvath (Jason Bradley) and Amalia Balash (Mackenzie Kyle) are warring workers at the parfumerie, unaware that they’ve been writing to each other as secret pen pals outside of the shop. But while they’re the central couple here, it’s really the ensemble effect of The Perfume Shop that makes it such a warm and enduring piece. Each member of the cast contributes to the atmosphere, especially Paul Whitworth as the shop owner, troubled by both the challenges of staying in business and, more importantly, by an unfaithful wife; Douglas Jones as Mr. Sipos, the philosophical yet worried longtime employee; Michael Joseph Mitchell, the caddish Mr. Kadar; and Ghafir Akbar, irresistible as self-important but basically good-hearted delivery boy Arpad.
Mackenzie Kyle and Jason Bradley in the Asolo Rep’s The Perfume Shop.
Many little details ring true about The Perfume Shop, and much of the dialogue, when it speaks of hard times and the woes of shopkeepers, will seem especially relevant in today’s economy. (One can only dream of the type of personal service these shop workers routinely provided, but it’s nice to see someone getting a Christmas bonus). Director Peter Amster, assisted by the just right costumes of Virgil Johnson and lighting by Aaron Muhl, succeeds in casting a sort of spell over the period and the production.