I Love You, Youíre Perfect, Now Change, music by Jimmy Roberts, Book and Lyrics by Joe DiPietro. Directed by Trey Compton.
Reviewed by J. Peter Bergman
Rachel Keimach and Tom Garruto; photo provided
"Standards. I used to have standards."
A long time ago someone invented the musical revue. It was a show where a group of people performed songs and sketches all related to a single topic: Tourists in Paris; Tourists in Rome; Tourists in New York - three typical revues by talents like Cole Porter, Cole Porter, or Cole Porter/Irving Berlin. The songs were witty. The sketches equally so. Then things changed into the best hits of rock singers, or Belgian chanteurs, or. . .I donít know.
In "I Love You, Youíre Perfect, Now Change" the subject is loving. The concept is something fascinating, youíd suppose: itís all in the titleís final phrase, "Now Change." Oddly nowhere in this show is the idea of changing for the one you love prevalent. One sketch about new parents indicates the need for a valued friend to alter his being for them. One sketch is about a resentful husband and father who drives too fast to please his family. So change already. But oddly the show isnít really about its title.
This show is much broader-based than that. Itís really about love expressed throughout our lives, from first dates to blind dates, to marriage to old age. There, and only there, is there change in this show, a gradual movement into the benign places, or so we might believe.
The truth about this show, currently on stage at the Theater Barn in New Lebanon, NY, is that it is often very funny. Whether we have two people skipping various stages of dating so they can get to the breaking up quicker or two people attending a funeral finding a new interest in the continuation of life we find ourselves giggling, chortling or just simply laughing out loud. We donít go home with new insights. We donít go out the door humming all the hit tunes. We donít even leave the theater thinking weíve gotten our moneys-worth tonight, by cracky! We just go out feeling fine, having enjoyed a reasonable evening.
This show is now the second longest running Off-Broadway musical in history having racked up 5023 performances before in closed in 2008. It only has a limited engagement here. Four marvelous performers are on hand to give their all for the team and give they do. There is no let-up in director Trey Comptonís energetic production. The band, keyboard/conductor Adam Jones and violinist Christine Orio, provides just the right touch to the show with its lightly, classically perfect accompaniment for every necessary moment. And, in a bright and discreetly dim enhancement, Allen Phelps perfectly marvelous cabaret lighting gives each scene the touch of humanity that may be lacking in the sometimes too slick lyrics of Joe DiPietro.
Tall Tom Garruto (tall is not his first name) is a delight in sketch after sketch. "Tear Jerk" is set in a movie house and just gets funnier and funnier in his hands, as does the "Marriage Tango" and his turn as a long-term Attica-based single man in "Scared Straight."
He shares the tango with Rachel Keimach who early shines in a sketch about speed dating, and who later is a marvel relating her bridesmaid experiences. She is also a hilarious wife faced with a maniac/driver and an especially elderly woman at a wake.
Lara Hayhurst, all blonde and perky on the outside delivers some wallop punches in her second act monologue dictating a video dating confession and also in the elation of a call from a former date when he said he would call.
Ryan Halsaver readily accepts the challenges of his many incarnations in this show particularly as a television pitchman for a law firm that contractually guarantees love relationships and as an old man determined to achieve one more pickup before he cashes it all in.
Abe Phelps silly set creates a certain tone for the show and the material falls in with the large heart-shaped unit that frames the band so perfectly. The songs are humorous, singable but not memorable in any way. The sketches are pointed, harmless and provide genuine yocks along with gentle titters. The show, as a whole, is innocuous, pleasant and will never be a threat to those large Cole Porter or Irving Berlin extravaganzas. As for this show, well the title paraphrased sums it up: "I loved you, youíre just fine, stay as sweet as you are."
I Love You, Youíre Perfect, Now Change plays at the Theater Barn located at 654 Route 20, New Lebanon, NY through August 7. For information and tickets call the box office at 518-794-8989.