Men may be from Mars and Women from Venus, but the twain do meet … and fall head over heels … and then decide it’s time to fix each other’s flaws in I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, Joe DiPietro and Jimmy Roberts’ smash off-Broadway musical revue, now getting a sparklingly performed 17th Anniversary revival at North Hollywood’s Crown City Theatre.

IMG_6231 2 Directed with imagination and flair by Gary Lee Reed and starring an oh-so talented quartet of Los Angeles triple-threats, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change features an eclectic dozen-and-a-half musical reflections on the battle between the sexes, catchy songs with music by Roberts and lyrics by DiPietro interspersed with ready-for-Saturday Night Live sketches by DiPietro.

The evening’s Fab Four (Chris Cooke, Leigh Golden, Natalie Hope MacMillan, and Craig McEldowney, each of them absolutely splendid) play assorted lovers-turned-changers, and though there are no recurring characters or through-storyline, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change does have a certain continuity, starting as it does with one couple’s first date (in which they decide to skip all the preliminaries and go directly to their post-divorce reconciliation) and ending with an elderly couple’s happy discovery that “funerals are for dating.”

IMG_6047 Early on, Cooke and Golden are hilarious as a nerd and a dweeb who fantasize about being “A Stud And A Babe.” (“My breasts would be rounder. My pecs would astound her. My legs would be longer. My buns would be stronger.”)

Later on, the women lament a serious “Single Man Drought” while the men celebrate all that makes them male in “Why? ‘Cause I’m a Guy.” MacMillan despairs of being “Always A Bridesmaid” and having to wear one god-awful bridesmaid dress after another. (“For Caitlin, I wore satin, which I looked really fat in.”) Golden records and Cooke critiques the “very first dating video of Rose Ritz,” a tape sadly unlikely to score poor Rose many dates.

Comedic high points are reached in “Tear Jerk” and “On The Highway Of Love.” The former has MacMillan relishing and McEldowney recoiling from a Love Story-like tearjerker, the kind that even the most macho of men may end up succumbing to just as the hero’s wife succumbs to an unspecified terminal illness. The latter features a pair of long-suffering parents and two insufferable tots, all of them losing it on a family road trip. (Mom and Dad: “On the highway of love we scream till we’re hoarse.” Kids: “On the highway of love they outta get a divorce.”)

Director Reed savvily cuts “Satisfaction Guaranteed,” a cynical look at personal injury lawyers (“At Jacoby and Myers, Masters and Johnson, if your partner doesn’t get you off, we get you money!”) and the show is better for its absence.

Equally laudable is Reed’s decision to make I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change more 21st Century-inclusive by having McEldowney rather than one of the women sing “He Called Me.” (“A guy who I am dating really called me! Am I hallucinating?”) Not only does this gender-switch make certain audience members feel less left out, it offers Cooke the chance to play “Mom” while Golden and MacMillan sing backup.

Golden and Cooke have the great good fortune each to solo one of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change’s two most gorgeous ballads, “I Will Be Loved Tonight” and “Shouldn’t I Be Less In Love With You?”—and do so quite gorgeously.

Not only are Cooke, Golden, MacMillan, and McEldowney splendid singers, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change offers the quartet plenty of chances to strut their acting stuff. (I particularly liked the way MacMillan and McEldowney made real people out of the potentially stereotypical seniors in “I Can Live With That.”)

Choreographer Rhonda Kohl finds ingenious ways to insert a number of lively dance sequences among songs, “On The Highway Of Love” offering her, her cast, and four office chairs on rollers to perform some nifty “car-eography.”

Musical director William A. Reilly once again combines live ivory-tickling with prerecorded instrumental tracks, giving this I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change a richer sound that the usual piano-only accompaniment.

IMG_6199 Costume designer Tanya Apuya scores top marks in creating one character-specific outfit after another. (When performers aren’t acting, singing, and/or dancing, they’re backstage changing.) Giselly Rodriguez lights scenic designer Madison Orgill’s versatile revue-ready set with panache. Laura Steinroeder’s sound design is first-rate as well.

Steinroeder is stage manager and Luke Rhodes technical director. Additional program credits go to co-artistic directors Reilly and Gary Lamb and producers/CCT Company members Reilly, Kimberly Bullock, Ben Rovner, Joanne McGee, and Matthew J. Williamson. (Once again, I do wish the program asterisked only those performers who are members of Actors’ Equity.)

Following its multiple Scenie-winning extended-run productions of Company and Night Hawks, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change makes it a three-for-three year for Crown City Theatre, a production so pretty darn perfect, it has absolutely no reason to change.

Crown City Theater, St. Matthew’s Church, 11031 Camarillo St., North Hollywood.

–Steven Stanley
September 12, 2013

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