In time for Valentine’s Day, Other Voices Theatre presents a hysterical look at modern relationships, set to some catchy songs, in a series of vignettes forming the musical I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.
With music by Jimmy Roberts and a book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change is a series of scenes about modern relationships, each introducing a new set of unnamed characters and romantic concepts. The scenes progress in a typical chronological order, from first dates to marriage and having children, with plenty of hilarious obstacles and observations along the way.
The production is fantastically directed by Susan Thornton. Though the off-Broadway musical traditionally uses four actors to portray all the roles, the decision to double the cast to eight performers was very well-executed, and thanks to impeccable music direction from Jonas Dawson, all performers sound excellent on some very complex harmonies and syncopated musical numbers.
Adam Blackstock and Katherine Worley have wonderful chemistry as the young, lovebird couple in the show and give new meaning to the phrase “speed-dating” in their opening scene “We Had It All.” Blackstock is loveable and wholesome as the clean cut guy next door and Worley is adorable and spunky as your modern every-girl looking for love.
Karen Heyser Paone and Will Heyser Paone were outstanding in their scenes together. Their duet “Marriage Tango” was perfectly timed for laughs and even sweeter given that the two actors are married in real life. Karen Heyser Paone has the art of deadpan comedy and eyebrow raises down to a science and Will Heyser Paone displays some phenomenal facial expressions and exceptional character voices. The commercial segment entitled “Satisfaction Guaranteed” between Karen and Will was hysterically over-the-top and featured a laugh-out-loud unexpected twist.
Lee Hebb was outstanding and displayed a fantastic performance as an old man during a funeral sequence in the duet “I Can Live with That”. He physically transformed his movements to reflect an aged man and transitioned his voice and mannerisms into an endearing widower.
Jeanine Evans was terrific in her scenes as a suburban wife and mother and gave a heartbreaking but humorous performance in her monologue “The Very First Dating Video of Rose Ritz”. While the quartet “Single-Man Drought”, featuring the aforementioned four performers showed some excellent vocal harmony between the ladies, the gentleman and their hilarious characters definitely stole the scene.
In their turn as the consistent scene-stealing couple, Steve Custer and Taylor Whidden-Knapp were an unstoppable comedic force. Both display outstanding character voices while still maintaining clear diction and they have a fantastic comedic chemistry, especially during their duet “A Stud and a Babe,”Custer was hysterical in his scene as a prison inmate and his interaction with the audience was astounding. Whidden-Knapp displayed an electric stage presence and mastered her comedic timing during her songs, especially “He Called Me” and “Always a Bridesmaid.” Custer and Whidden-Knapp have a standout comedy scene acting as obsessive parents of a newborn with Blackstock as their childless friend.
Though the musical is a non-stop comedy for the majority of the evening, two solo moments provide a somewhat serious relief from the comedy. Katherine Worley’s solo “I Will Be Loved Tonight” in Act 1 was touching and very endearing. However, Will Heyser-Paone provided the most poignant moment of the production with his Act II solo “Shouldn’t I Be Less in Love with You?” and displayed an amazing contrast to his typically comedic performance.
Thornton produced several imaginatively staged sequences, including a very synchronized use of a “car” onstage for “The Highway of Love” and a wonderfully inventive blocking choice involving technology during Evans’ monologue. Several clever references to local theater companies and productions popped up during the show as well. And make sure you are back in your seat well before intermission is over, as you do not want to miss the wonderfully witty and adorable exchange between some battling pit musicians with a rare chance to be onstage in the spotlight during the Entr’acte.
A single unit set, designed by Timothy Huth and Kyle Huth, includes two platforms stage left and right that allowed for some unique blocking choices with multiple couples onstage at once. Costumes, designed by Kirk Bowers, are all modern day outfits reflecting each character and setting and color coordination helps group the separate couples in varying scenes. Light, designed by Steve Knapp, were cleanly executed and effective. A projection screen center stage was another inventive choice as humorous scene titles were broadcast as transitions during scene changes.
Running Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes, with one 15-minute intermission.
I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change plays through February 14, 2016 at Other Voices Theatre performing at the Performing Arts Factory at 244 S. Jefferson St. in Frederick, MD. For tickets, call the box office at 301-662-3722 or go online.