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.

10369874_943809002298245_7173594763334284869_n 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.

11001743_943808508964961_1949741659774140907_n 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.

10429493_943808542298291_4016597636382133383_n 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!

10430448_943832985629180_9145010970765072057_n 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.

10612823_943808638964948_8773538977222799138_n “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!”)

10999323_943808602298285_6568226424961534147_n 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.

10993498_943808662298279_687831538460438379_n “Hey There, Single Gal/Guy” looks at what happens when parents of a grown son discover that the expected, “Mom and Dad, Karen and I are going to get married!” comes out, “We’re breaking up.”

11018887_943808965631582_3926736545827464362_n 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.”

10476430_943808792298266_7154943229134782021_n Fisher and Berkart’s direction is imaginative throughout, and the performances they have elicited from their sextet of triple-threats could hardly be more sparkling.

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.

10994249_943838735628605_4697863219003847617_n 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.

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McCadden Place Theatre, 1157 N. McCadden Place, Hollywood.

–Steven Stanley
February 13, 2015



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