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2/9/2024        I LOVE YOU, YOU’RE PERFECT, NOW CHANGE      Act 3 Productions


Back in 2013, I ranted about how some folks like to turn their noses down at plays that (allegedly) only want to give you a good time, about how (for some reason) folks of (alleged) taste feel embarrassed about daring to like their guilty pleasures.  My rant centered on how such easy dismissal can blind the (alleged) "arbiter of taste" to real virtues, to real artistic merit, and (dare I say?) to works that will "stand the test of time."


Take, I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, an (alleged) trifle of a 1997 musical that, for me, never gets old.  (Is 27 years long enough to earn the “stand the test of time” label?)  This is the Bazillion Tetrillionth production of it I've seen (not counting two for which I designed – and ran – lights), and, true to my expectations, it is a memorable mix of hits-close-to-home laughs and unexpected heartstring tugs.  For this appreciation, I looked back over some reactions to previous productions.  Sure enough, I came across the requisite number of I'm-ashamed-I-liked-its and thin-as-gossamers and pulls-out-every-cliché-in-the-books.   To all this, I say, "{Insert Bronx Cheer Here}."


Now this show has an additional burden – it was revised for a revival a few years back, and there are currently two versions available for licensing (at least I think both versions can be licensed).Last year, in fact, I worked a production of the revised version, and had mixed reactions to the changes – I liked “A Picture of His” (about

(about certain popular pics some guys are prone to sending), missed “He Called Me” which was dropped;I liked the “Baby Song” with a same sex couple, but missed the Full Bladder part of the “Waiting” trio.I also loved the updates and contemporary references, but to be fair, the original allows directors and design teams a lot of leeway to include local and contemporary allusions.


Act 3 Productions has chosen to produce the original version (so nary a same-sex couple in sight) but has added a few local references and a buttload of cell phones.


So, before I express my appreciation for this show and this particular production, let me backtrack a bit and copy some background template prose from an earlier review, just in case some of you have never been exposed to this delightful confection – and judging from overheard conversations opening night, this show may be a mystery to far too many theatre goers.


What this play does, in its wonderfully sly way, is to show us some clichés about relationships and men and women, and then turn them on their heads,It shows us all the ambiguities and ambivalences that define modern (and maybe not-so-modern) romance.But more than that, it provides many cases in which we can recognize the cliché in our own lives and experiences.


Constructed as a series of sketches that look at a host of "aspects of love" -- meeting, courtship, sex, marriage (and NOT marriage), babies, family life, the take-each-other-for-granted years, the growing-old-together-years, and, poignantly, the what-do-I-do-now-that-he/she-is-gone years.Each sketch uses a particular cliché or stereotype to get started quickly, then, just as quickly, goes into unexpected directions, mining for unexpected emotion, always gilding the jokes with songs that quickly stick in the memory.


My favorites change from production to production, but, as in previous outings, my FAVORITE favorite remains "Shouldn't I be Less in Love with You?", in which an elderly man finds himself amazed that, even after all these years, his taken-for-granted wife behind her bathrobe and breakfast newspaper, still manages to fan that spark of love and desire.  Here, Sam North manages to convey a character well beyond his own age as well as all the layers of experience and affection that inform the scene.


Other standout numbers this time out are Magda Roub ecstatically belting out "I Will be Loved Tonight," Irene Polk in the comic "Always a Bridesmaid," and Jason Meinhardt trying to find his new-Daddy footing with "The Baby Song."


All four actors play a plethora of characters in a roundelay of combinations and are more-than-ably supported by the piano and violin of Gamble and Vanessa Hall.Music Director Gamble (Bias alert – I have worked several times with them and ALWAYS view their work through approval-tinted glasses) keeps the balance in tune and the accompaniment never over-powering.


Okay, there are a few quibbles about the production – choices made that dragged out a few scene shifts, opening night line/lyric fumbles, some overall pacing lags, misbalanced intensity in too many of the light cues, neglecting to “age” the actors appropriately – but there was nothing that made this a less-than-enjoyable wallow in an old favorite, and, to be honest, these are quibbles I have with most non-professional productions.  Directors Amy Cain and Spencer G. Stephens are to be commended for wrangling their artists and artisans into a thoroughly delightful experience.


I do have to air one complaint in general about this version (one I have aired before and hinted at above) -- there are no sketches involving same-sex couples.It is (allegedly) politically correct to acknowledge that same-sex couples go through all the same hassles and doubts and certainties as everyone else, so such a scene would not be out of place.Those changes added to the revised version were delightful, and, once bitten, twice shy about expectations, I suppose.  I daresay even in productions of this version, a few same-sex moments would not violate the licensing agreement.Maybe.


In any case, love is love, and we can't help loving being in love.  The point of the show, as evidenced by its title, is that love would be the most marvelous thing in the world, if weren't for the "Love" part of it.  And the "You" part of it.  And the "I" part of it.  To paraphrase Annie Hall, relationships are filled with frustration and misery and angst and turmoil.  But we can't help falling in love, because, well, because we need the eggs.

-- Brad Rudy (, #ILoveYouYourePerfectNowChange  #Act3Productions

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