“I Love You,” Not Perfect But A Lot Of Fun
The big news about ”I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change,” playing at Cohoes Music Hall weekends through May 23, is that it’s the first area indoor theater production in over a year. The good news is that though the material is inconsistent, it’s a well-performed, swiftly directed effort that provides a lot of laughs.
“I Love You…” is a lighthearted evening of comedy and song that will warm the heart of anyone who loves theater. The cast of four is relentless in its energetic desire to make the audience laugh. This is a hard-working, talented quartet that is asked to create almost 60 characters in a two-hour period and make them distinctive and funny. Most work well, a few miss completely, and others are moderately entertaining. However, overall, it’s admirable work.
Besides being funny, the cast sings well. Except in rare cases, the score plays a supporting role in the comic skits, but when a song merits a great voice and lyrical sensitivity - the performers deliver.
Molly Rose McGrath is terrific with “I Will Be Loved Tonight,” and Dashira Cortes scores with the comic lament “Always a Bridesmaid.” Brandon Jones finds the tender beauty in “Shouldn’t I Be Less in Love With You,” and Marc Christopher’s needy machoism makes “On the Highway of Love” both funny and revealing.
“I Love You, ...” is essentially a revue consisting of 19 scenes, performed in two hours. The first act is about mostly cloddish people trying to romance equally shallow individuals. It’s filled with clownish stereotypes and skits. Though humorous, how much revelation can you expect to find in bits titled “A Stud and a Babe,” “Why? “Cause I’m a Guy,” or “The Lasagna Incident”? Thankfully, director Michael LoPorto sets a brisk pace so that the hic-cups in the material do not seriously impede the production.
The second act, which is far more sensitive than the first, shows how marriage and children can bring maturity and caring to almost anyone who stops being self-centered.
When the comedy of the second act becomes human-based the transformation is rewarding as when Jones and Christopher capture the comedy and sincerity of two gay men who become overprotective parents. Indeed, the blending of hurt and laughter is epitomized with McGrath’s sensitive monologue in which a self-affirming, divorced woman records a painfully truthful online dating video.
Despite the numerous high spots there were a few “early-in-the-run” problems, most of which are correctable. The four-piece band led by music director Brian Axford is, by regulation, socially distant on stage. It’s awkward, but except for the sound occasionally drowning out a lyric, the group does great work with the wide variety of musical styles in the piece.
Too, there are times the cast pushes too hard trying to make weak material funnier than they are written. I suspect that part of the problem was performing to an audience that is limited to 50 people in a space that seats over 300. The opening night’s audience’s energy was rather reserved, which is likely to change as the cast builds confidence through live performances. It’s nice to know a good show likely will get even better.
“I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” is ideal for anyone looking for escapist entertainment. It’s certainly worth trying to get one of the limited tickets of 50 per performance. Produced by Playhouse Stage, it plays at Cohoes Music Hall, Friday through Sunday until May 23. For tickets and information go to playhousestage.org or call 518-434-0776.
Bob Goepfert is theater reviewer for the Troy Record.
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