Men are from Mars and women are from Venus and both sexes (and the battles between them) are as entertaining as male-female battles get in The Los Angeles New Court Theatre’s terrifically performed revival of Joe Di Pietro and Jimmy Roberts’ two-decade-old—but eternally relevant—smash off-Broadway musical revue I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.
Featuring an eclectic dozen-and-a-half musical reflections on opposite-sex relationships, catchy songs with music by Roberts and lyrics by DiPietro, and some ready-for-Saturday Night Live sketches by DiPietro, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change has been delighting audiences (particularly straight ones) since its 1996 debut.
Though the revue was originally written for a cast of four, directors Emily A. Fisher and Nathan Lee Burkart have opted to up that number to six, allowing for more than twice as many boy-girl pairings, and the added variety is just one reason why the latest from New Court makes for such a delightful evening of theater.
I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change may not feature recurring characters or a storyline to follow from meet-cute to romantic crisis to happy ending, but it does take a chronological path, starting from one couple’s first date (during which they decide to skip all the preliminaries and go directly to their post-divorce reconciliation) all the way up to an elderly pair’s happy discovery that “funerals are for dating.”
These occasionally nameless but always well-defined characters are brought to vibrant, three-dimensional life by Tyler Beveridge, Ainsley Emrys, Sara Gonzales, Jennifer Losi, Josey Montana McCoy, and Rachel Pallante, a cast of New Court company members, regulars, and guests, a number of whom share the St. Louis, MO, Webster University Conservatory Of Theatre Arts connection that first brought together this exciting new young company of L.A.-based theater artists three seasons ago.
All and all, there are almost too many highlights for me to mention each and every one, but I’ll try.
Let’s start with Losi and McCoy as a nerdette 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.”) Talk about a pair of amazing transformations as the duo demonstrate the importance of attitude and confidence in the way your looks get perceived.
A torchy Gonzales and Pallante lament a serious “Single Man Drought,” followed by Beveridge and Emrys’s manhood-celebrating “Why? ‘Cause I’m a Guy.”
Gonzales later reappears in Grand Ol’ Opry mode (and godawful bridesmaid garb) in “Always A Bridesmaid.” (“For Caitlin, I wore satin, which I looked really fat in.”) It’s not only a hoot but boy can she belt!
Emrys, Gonzales, Losi, and Pallante appear as a pair of long-suffering parents and their two insufferable tots, all of them losing it on a family road trip in “On The Highway Of Love.” (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.”) Adding to the delight is some clever “car-eography,” that has all four car-vorting around the stage on office chairs on rollers.
Losi and Emrys luck out with I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change’s two most gorgeous ballads, she with “I Will Be Loved Tonight,” he with “Shouldn’t I Be Less In Love With You?”, and both of them singing quite gorgeously indeed.
In fact, there’s not a weak vocal link in the entire cast, DiPietro and Roberts’ songs giving everyone a chance to shine.
“He Called Me” has Gonzales celebrating that “a guy who I am dating really called me!”—with Italian pizza guys’ backup no less. Emrys and Pallante are at once operatic and hilarious as a long-married couple getting ready for some long-awaited hanky-panky in “Marriage Tango.” New father Beveridge bemoans the baby-talk he finds himself spouting in “The Baby Song.” Losi, McCoy, and Pallante join voices for the hilarious “Waiting Trio.” And everybody gets together for “Cantata For A First Date,” “Wedding Vows,” and the title song.
Interspersed among musical numbers are a number of skits that would do SNL proud featuring comedically adept performances from all.
“Satisfaction Guaranteed” looks wryly at all those personal injury lawyers out to make you a millionaire. (“At Jacoby and Myers, Masters and Johnson, if your partner doesn’t get you off, we get you money!”)
In “Tear Jerk,” Pallante relishes and McCoy can’t abide a Love Story-like tearjerker, the kind that even the most macho of men may end up succumbing to when it’s the movie hero’s wife succumbing to an unspecified terminal illness.
Co-writers Di Pietro and Roberts are smart enough to insert a bit of poignancy as I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change nears its show-stopping final number, and cast members Losi, Beveridge, and Gonzales benefit from the mood change, the former with the bittersweet “very first dating video of Rose Ritz,” a tape sadly unlikely to score poor Rose many romantic hook-ups, the latter two as seniors who ignite a romantic spark while awaiting a pair of funerals in “I Can Live With That.”
Jennifer Lin’s musical direction could hardly be finer either, or her precision keyboard accompaniment, or the added contributions of violinist Edan Freiberger, whose bow-work ups the poignancy factor at key points.
Alex Burkart’s set design turns the McCadden Place Theatre into a scrapbook full of black-and-white cast photos in assorted romantic—and not-so romantic—poses. Christine Macedo’s lighting design is basic but effective. Megan Berkart’s costumes and props are a delight throughout, with special snaps for Gonzales’s bridesmaid’s gown and matching boots, a pair of underwear-atop-gym suit combos, and a couple of Italian waiter aprons.
I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change is produced by Ashley Partington and The Los Angeles New Court Theatre. Josh Gannon is stage manager and Josie Adams stagehand.
With dozens upon dozens of shows playing around town this month in particular, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change’s all-too-short two-week run could get it lost among the crowd. That would be a shame because like Little Man before it, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change is The Los Angeles New Court Theatre at their exuberant, invigorating, multi-talented best.
McCadden Place Theatre, 1157 N. McCadden Place, Hollywood.
February 13, 2015