By Kylie Miller
Spotlighters Theatre is halfway through their run of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, a musical comedy with book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro and music by Jimmy Roberts. This particular production at Spotlighters was performed with the new 2018 revised and updated edition of the show. Director Fuzz Roark shared in his curtain speech that this is only the second or third production to perform I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change with the updated script.
Within five minutes of this show, the performers are all stripped down to their underwear as the opening number shows each of them getting ready for a first date. This show features six actors portraying over 60 different characters as they move through vignettes about the highs and lows of navigating romantic relationships.
The musical moves in a chronological narrative. The first act deals mostly with dating leading up to marriage and the second act focuses on the various aftermaths of marriage. The main focus of the story, as the title suggests, is the irony of love, which is obvious. With about 40 different vignettes, the show is a wild ride that people of all backgrounds will relate to. Some scenes are definitely stronger than others, but overall, this production is impressive and well done.
The cast of this show is not afraid to have fun and make fools out of themselves. All of the performers were engaging and, as an ensemble, they were unstoppable. There are several numbers where all six performers are present and, for me, those were the strongest parts of the show.
While this musical is typically done with two men and two women, Spotlighters production showcases two men and four women. Amy Bell, Linae Bullock, Carly M. Henderson, and Shaneia Stewart take on all of the female characters in the show, while Andrew Grossman and Rob Wall portray all of the male characters. The vocal talents of each performer were showcased very well in the parts they were assigned. Musical Director Mandee Ferrier Roberts successfully matched each song with the best performer in the cast.
It was clear that the director, as well as all of the performers, had a strong grasp on the comedy this musical calls for. The staging and acting choices enhanced the show and had the audience in peals of laughter. The realness of the characters and their situations in this musical are what make it so relatable. Even if the portrayal of a given circumstance is over the top, it speaks to the truth behind stereotypes that we are all familiar with. While most of the show is comedic, there are also heartfelt numbers, especially in the second act.
The cast of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. Photo by Shaelyn Jae Photography.
Spotlighters Theatre has an intimate performance space that is set up in the round, meaning there are audience members on all four sides of the stage. The performers in I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change do a fantastic job at playing to the entire audience through dynamic staging that was obviously crafted to be done in the round.
Intimate settings are not always ideal for musicals, but the director used this to his advantage. Actors were constantly interacting with audience members making eye contact and comments. The set is minimalistic, consisting of several colored blocks that transform into various set pieces. These blocks functioned very well as they turned into a dining room table, a bed, and at one point, even a car.
The production utilized costume and wig changes to transition the performers into new characters. While this was effective to communicate the new characters in each scene, I was not a big fan of the use of wigs. It is understood that the actors are playing a new character in every scene through costume changes and acting choices. The wigs were a nice touch but felt unnecessary and took up excess time during transitions. The transitions in this show felt very slow and it was obvious that actors were rushing on and off stage, which left the wigs looking very sloppy.
Having seen I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change before, my biggest issue with the musical itself has always been the heteronormative stories represented in the show. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the updated script now portrays a gay and lesbian couple. While the main focus of the show remains relationships between men and women, it is nice to see that an effort at inclusion has been made. Additionally, the revisions include contemporary references to Tinder and Netflix, as well as a new hilarious song called “A Picture of His.”
The pit orchestra for the show consisted of a single violin and keyboard led by Mandee Ferrier Roberts. At times, sound was an issue during the performance. Even in an intimate setting, it was difficult to hear during some of the numbers because of the live music, in addition to the show being performed in the round.
I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change is a fast-paced show as it moves to and from each vignette. During the talkback after the show on April 8th, director Fuzz Roark summed up this show perfectly, saying, “40 different vignettes in two hours… hang on!” Audiences will be taken on a journey through painfully awkward first dates, pre-wedding jitters, parenthood, becoming a widow, and everything in between. As the show progressed, I witnessed couples in the audience holding each other’s hands a little tighter, or even lean over and kiss their partner. This show will make you laugh and cry, all while reminding you why love is worth the struggles.
Running Time: Two hours and 20 minutes, including a 15-minute intermission.