Monday, September 30, 2013

Theater Review: I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change -- Ivoryton Playhouse

 Sheila Coyle, Michael Brian Dunne, Christopher Sutton and Holly Holcomb. Photo by Anne Hudson
A Musical Romp Through All the Truths That Make Relationships
By Lauren Yarger
A lighthearted musical romp through relationships gets a nice production as Off-Broadway’s longest running music revue, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, comes to Ivoryton Playhouse.

With a book by Joe DiPietro (who has gone on to write the books for Memphis Nice Work if You Can Get It and The Toxic Avenger, among others) and music by Jimmy Roberts, the show explores the ups and downs and mysteries of relationships between men and women from dating to the grave.

Various scenarios play out with Christopher Sutton, Michael Brian Dunn, Holly Holcomb and Sheila E. Coyle jumping into various roles amidst 18 musical numbers (accompanied by Music Director Logan Medland on piano and Carin Joy Wiesner on violin). Sutton also choreographs and directs.

Couples experience the angst of a first date, trying to appear interested in a boring date’s diatribe and wondering whether they should try to be more of a “babe” or a “stud.” Couples marry, have kids, wonder when they’ll ever have sex again and experiences the “joys” of family car trips.

Later, couples who have been together for many years fall into patterns, discover enduring love, and even risk finding love again after losing a longtime companion. All of the transitions are enhanced with costuming by Kari Crowther. Standing out are Tarzan/Jane accessories for the couple trying to find time to have sex in between demands from their kids and a really, really, really ugly bridesmaid’s dress.

The vignettes are heavy on the humor (this is DiPietro’s gift), but there also are some touching moments, like “I will be Loved Tonight” and the touching “First Dating Video of Rose Ritz” that balance out the show. “Funerals are for Dating,” for example, is a blend itself, offering some humor in a sadder setting as two elderly folks discover possible romance at what has become a regular activity for both of them: attending the funerals of friends and loved ones.

The ensemble is vocally able and has good rapport. Tony Andrea designs a stationary set with an appropriate arch of hearts over the action.

The elderly couple seated in front of me laughed a lot. And cuddled a lot. And whispered remembrances to each other as each romance played out. It’s that kind of show with a sweet, funny, enjoyable mix that kept I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change running for more than 5,000 performances in New York. At Ivoryton, it runs about two hours and 15 minutes with an intermission.

The show runs through Oct.13, Performances are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2 pm; Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 pm; Friday and Saturday at 8 pm. Tickets$40 for adults, $35 for seniors, $20 for students and $15 for children; (860) 767-7318; www.ivorytonplayhouse.org.

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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

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