KPBS AIRDATE: MAY 25, 2001
Okay, let me not keep you in suspense. Right off the bat, I’ll tell you that, as a musical, as a revue, as an evening of theater, I think the best thing about “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” is the title. It’s a pastiche of skits and sketches, mostly musical, about the stages of love and romance: the terrors of dating, the desperation of being single, the thrill of first love, the splendors and horrors of marriage and children, the compromises required of young and old. There’s nothing you haven’t heard before. No brilliantly clever lyrics, no eye-opening insights. But so what, you may ask. Hollywood and book publishers have convinced us that no one wants to think in the summertime, so mindless entertainment is the order of the day. “I Love You…” is billed as the ‘longest-running musical revue in Off-Broadway history.’ So maybe it isn’t a seasonal thing. I and so many curmudgeonly others bemoan the dumbing down of America. But we know we’re in the minority. So when mediocrity and moronia are the plat du jour, you can either savor it or starve. So pull your chair up to the table, because the San Diego Rep has made a sumptuous meal out of this simple-minded amusement.
The set is fun, functional and malleable… with its giant, lipstick-red stiletto center stage, and borders of neckties flanking the playing space. Like the multi-hued set, the lighting is positively giddy. The super-duper onstage musicians, pianist Don LeMaster and violinist Wendy Hoover, are humorously portrayed as yet another couple trying to achieve harmony. And then there’s the cast. The four performers are absolutely outstanding — endlessly talented and appealing, moving well, singing wonderfully, and inhabiting a colorful cast of ever-changing characters. They are completely irresistible, and each has a knockout number: Genna Ambatielos in her first dating video, musical-comic-whiz Steve Gunderson’s macho car-man in “On the Highway of Love,” the adorable Robert Townsend’s touching “Shouldn’t I Be Less in Love with You,” and that dramatic and musical marvel who can’t come back to San Diego too often for my money, Deborah Van Valkenburgh, boffo in “Always a Bridesmaid.”
Yes, it’s all too familiar, but it’s impossible not to see recognize some mating or dating conundrum from your life up there, however superficially it’s portrayed. Director Sam Woodhouse and choreographer Javier Velasco keep it moving at a hasty pace that leaves no room for rumination. This is no heavy meal; it’s a fluffy swirl of cotton candy.
©2001 Patté Productions Inc.