I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change—which had a wildly successful turn Off-Broadway before opening last week at the Westchester Broadway Theatre—is a light, loose production. The topic is broad: love. The show is a musical revue, allowing the characters to switch personalities and relationships as the need arises. The sets (mostly an assortment of tables and chairs, easily removed and replaced) and musical accompaniment (just two musicians, on piano and violin) are spare. The pared-down nature of the show gives it enormous flexibility to delve into its basic topic, modern love between heterosexual couples of all ages.
Unfortunately, the play chooses to take all that plasticity and stay in familiar territory—very familiar. The observations about male/female relationships in the songs have all been said a thousand times before. Women like tearjerkers, while men like action flicks. Women spend too much time shopping, while men like football and channel-surfing and never call when they say they will. Married couples rarely get to have sex after children, and new parents forget how to have adult conversations and can only speak in baby talk. Older parents pressure their children to get married so they can have grandkids.
And, though the musical is only a little over a decade years old, even some of the references feel like they need updating: In the song “Tear Jerk,” the guy professes his love for the movies of Sylvester Stallone and the hotness of Sharon Stone, which might have made sense in 1995 when they were the stars of blockbusters Cliffhanger and Basic Instinct—but not so much in 2009, now that their most recent movies are underperformers like Rambo IV and Basic Instinct 2. Also, in “He Called Me,” the inevitable number about waiting by the phone for the love interest to call, our protagonist is seen gabbing on a telephone that—gasp!—has a cord.
Still, if you can look past the dated aspects and don’t mind if the humor is based on tropes as old as the going-steady pin, the Westchester Broadway Theatre does a great job with the material they’re handed. Much of this relies on the strength of the four principal actors—Courtney Balan, Noel Molinelli, Jonathan Rayson, and, stepping in for a press performance last week, understudy Travis Taber—who seamlessly shift between characters, costumes, and couples throughout the revue. The ladies—Balan, a Broadway vet from the original cast of Cry-Baby, and Molinelli, who made her Broadway Theatre debut—are especially a treat to watch, wielding comedic chops one moment, then delivering tender, touching monologues the next. And, though most of the action takes place around dinner tables, there are some numbers with some pretty inventive staging, such as “On the Highway of Love,” during which the cast rolls around the stage in office chairs to simulate a family car ride.
I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change remains at the Westchester Broadway Theatre through August 2. If you’re planning to see it, and you’re as into bargain-hunting as I am, I recommend going soon: From July 2 to July 10, in honor of the Theatre’s 35th anniversary, every full-price ticket allows you to buy a second at the WBT’s opening-day prices: $10.95! Details can be found on the Broadway Theatre Blog.
Photos by John Vecchiolla