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From the nervous first date to the comfortable romance of an old marriage, “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change,” is a musical journey of love through a series of 20 vignettes both raucously hilarious and, occasionally, endearingly touching.
Each one of the vignettes explores a different aspect of romance, beginning with two couples nervously preparing for the first date as they primp and dress, wondering what the night will bring. The first act continues on from there with a mostly younger cast testing the murky waters of the dating scene and the old differences between men and women. The final short scene sends one couple down the aisle and on their way to marriage, making way for a largely older cast in the second half to examine everything from parenthood, growing old and even finding romance in the later years in life.
The best part of a musical of this nature is seeing each cast member given a chance to shine. Each vignette stands alone, although it builds on the theme of the previous scenes, so a new cast steps onto the stage with a new set of characters and different musical styles.
Originally produced off-Broadway in 1996, there are some old clichés here even for that era, with women searching for the man to marry and dragging their dates to “chick flicks,” or men bragging about their sports-watching, beer-drinking lifestyles, but some of the themes are so familiar as to be comically poignant. There are truly silly moments, like a singles program visiting a prison to be “scared straight to the altar” by a tough-talking, intimidating inmate (brilliantly portrayed by Fred Berl), as well as some very touching ones, as in Bruce Lamertine asking of his 30-plus year marriage, “Shouldn’t I Be Less In Love With You?”
With so large a cast, it would be impossible to pick an absolute favorite from the multitude of single talents. The 31 person cast boasts a huge number of excellent voices, comedic timing, and enthusiastic acting — even one somewhat athletic scene played in a four-chair “car” being pushed around the stage by Kaki Kelly, Ken Milder, Kate Ramsey and George Spillman as a family on a somewhat vexing road trip. It is fascinating how the dynamics of different scenes change with the mixing and re-mixing of different cast members, giving each individual piece its own unique vitality.
There is a little something for everyone, young and old, in any stage of dating, marriage, parenthood, or even divorce or widowhood.
Book and lyrics of “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change,” were by Joe DiPietro, music by Jimmy Roberts. It is produced at the Los Alamos Little Theater by Gracie Cainelli and directed by Jim Sicilian. Choreography was by Patrick MacDonald. Musical accompaniment throughout the performance is provided by violinist Jackie MacFarlane, keyboardist Suzanne Johnson, and keyboardist and musical director Gretchen Amstutz.
Performances are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and May 16-17; and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Los Alamos Little Theater. More information can be found at lalt.org. Parents should be advised that while the language is generally low-key, this show does deal with some sexual themes.