The married couple at the center of the musical "I Do! I Do!" spars, spats, cuddles and coos.
In other words, they're just like us.
The Wine Country Theatre production, which features music by Harvey Schmidt and book and lyrics by Tom Jones, plays through Sunday at the Park Ballroom in Paso Robles. It's based on the play "The Fourposter" by Jan de Hartog — and the marriage bed does indeed take center stage in this gentle comedy, which spans 50 years between 1940 and 1990.
"I Do! I Do!" may take place in the past, but the themes it touches on are timeless.
We first meet Michael (John Laird) and Agnes (Jennifer Blomfield) Snow as soon-to-be newlyweds approaching their nuptials.
They overcome their nervousness to pledge "I Do! I Do!" and begin their lives "Together Forever."
At first, life for the Snows — an aspiring novelist and his housewife bride — is heaven.
Michael rhapsodizes about his romantic feelings. "It may be abnormal ... but nevertheless, I must confess, I love my wife," he sings.
When Agnes discovers that she's pregnant with the couple's first child — her exact, understated phrase is "Something Has Happened" — the two agree that "My Cup Runneth Over" with love and excitement.
First a son is born, then a daughter. The challenges of parenthood prompt Michael and Agnes to acknowledge that "Love Isn't Everything" when there are bills to pay and mouths to feed, but "it makes things sort of fun."
As time goes on, however, the Snows' feelings toward each other become as frosty as their surname.
In the hilarious number "Nobody's Perfect," the spouses swap lists of grievances detailing which behaviors drive them batty. For instance, Agnes has a tendency to overspend, while Michael makes chewing noises when he sleeps.
He considers himself a "man of some importance," but his wife sees him as arrogant and condescending. It's clear that their collective ardor has cooled as Michael's writing career has advanced.
Michael confesses to an extramarital affair, declaring that it's "A Well Known Fact" that men grow more attractive as they age, whereas women don't.
Agnes doesn't agree. Donning lingerie and an elaborate feathered hat, she fantasizes about leaving Michael and reinventing herself as "Flaming Agnes," a mousy housewife turned flirtatious cougar.
"If I'm going to go to pot," she decides, "this pot is going to be hot!"
Can these two lovebirds sort out their differences and live happily ever after? Or is the honeymoon permanently over? You'll have to watch "I Do! I Do!" to find out.
"I Do! I Do!" is presented as a series of pleasant, playful vignettes accompanied by a piano score. The scenarios will be familiar to anyone has spent time in a long-term relationship, while the songs will appeal to fans of Broadway-style pop.
Blomfield and Laird share an enjoyable chemistry as the Snows. But their bond is most believable when they play an older couple.
Wine Country Theatre founder Cynthia Anthony serves as the director, set designer and costume designer. (She and her cast have rounded up a fun, colorful period wardrobe.) Anthony is assisted by music director Debbie Lagomarsino, choreographer John Lambie, lighting designer Zac Suddjian and sound designer Jacob Shearer.
As befits a two-hander, the set — a cozily appointed mid-century bedroom dominated by a large bed — is flanked by Agnes' boudoir on the left and Michael's study on the right.
The characters retire to their separate corners a number of times during the show — at one point changing costumes and applying makeup to indicate the story has leapt forward by a couple decades. It's the only jarring transition in an otherwise straightforward show.