by Lynn on May 21, 2013

in The Passionate Playgoer

At the Toronto Centre for the Arts, Studio Theatre, Toronto.  Book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro. Music by Jimmy Roberts. Directed by Evan Tsitsias. Musical director, Scott Christian. Starring: Christopher Alan Gray, Dean Hollin, Leslie Kay, Alison O’Neill.

Produced by Angelwalk Theatre with KooGle Theatre Company. It plays until June 2, 2013.

For the last four years Brian Goldenberg, the Artistic Producer for Angelwalk Theatre, has been living his dream of presenting Off-Broadway musicals in Toronto with a totally Canadian cast and creative crew. He has produced such shows as Altar Boyz, The Last Five Years, I Love You Because, and Ordinary Days.

He ends his fourth season with I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change which originally  ran for 12 years Off-Broadway. The book and lyrics were written by Joe DiPietro with music by Jimmy Roberts. Amazingly, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change is DiPietro’s first show. To show this success was no fluke, he followed it with Toxic Avenger, Memphis (winning him a Tony Award), and Nice Work If You Can Get It.

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change is about those age-old, always relevant subjects of love and relationships; dating; fumbling into love; breaking up etc.

A buoyant cast of four: Christopher Alan Gray, Dean Hollin, Leslie Kay and Alison O’Neill, backed by a keyboard and violinist, sing the songs and create the relationships.

In Act I we watch the unsettling machinations of the first date, handled in a somewhat clever way in which the couple decide to skip the first date because it’s so stressful, and go to the second date but pass on that and pass the date with sex; then the first argument, and so on. One gets lost in all that philosophizing. There is a song—“A Stud and a Babe”– in which a couple are wistful about their perceptions about themselves, wishing they were in fact a stud and a babe but not quite making it. There is a song about how a woman will date anyone because there seems to be a “Single Man Drought.” There is the joy when a woman breaks down the reserve of a guy she’s been dating who has not made a pass, and invites him over and condoms are mentioned (“I Will Be Loved Tonight”). There is the song about the break-up, just when the parents of one of them thinks an engagement is in the air. There is another song about waiting by the phone for a call from a man. And finally at the end of Act I there is a harried wedding.

I never know why it’s necessary to have a cast of four microphoned in a small theatre, especially when there is a band of two. I found the sound too loud at times. I also thought the staging by Evan Tsitsias was too frantic and too eager to fill the space with activity. There are large moveable set pieces up stage that holds the various props and clothes of the cast. Tsitsias spent a lot of time moving those pieces around for no reason other than to appear busy. Jimmy Roberts’ music is unmemorable; while DiPietro’s book and lyrics while occasionally clever, generally try too hard to be clever and insightful and fall short.

It might appeal to some as a pleasant date show and perhaps some will nod in agreement at the trials and tribulations of relationships. Me, I found it deadly. I can’t comment on Act II because I left at intermission.

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