I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change
First dates are bad enough. They can result in despair, hilarity, anguish or hope. But first dates set to music? Those just end in laughter. Or perhaps tears, coming from laughing too much. That is the most likely result from the play I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, the musical revue playing at the WestSide Theatre. Composed of a variety of musical sketches about dating, love and marriage, the show offers insight – and relief – into and from the modern mating rituals that are all-too-familiar to its audience.
Some of the skits play on stereotypes, such as a man waiting for a woman to finish her shopping in a shoe store, or a woman rejoicing because a man called her when he said he would, but the gentle humor that underlies these skits, combined with the heartfelt performances of an extremely talented ensemble, softens the rough edges and creates a blend of humorous, entertaining sketches that serve as a surprisingly accurate representation of modern mating rituals.
Every aspect of love is touched upon in the show, from dressing for a first date to the pressure from parents to marry as soon as possible to the horror of being a bridesmaid at multiple weddings. Both the male and female perspectives are represented in a defensive and self-deprecating manner that manages to be amusing as well as endearing. They do not attempt to analyze or explain the habits of the sexes, but instead accept them at face value and enjoy the hilariously awkward scenarios that result from the quirks and
While some scenes market on the horror to create comedy, others touch on the true delight of finding someone. Courtney Balan’s song, “I Will Be Loved Tonight,” sung in her lovely soprano, depicts the sweet hope of the beginning of a romance. Another of the evening’s highlights is the song “Shouldn’t I Be Less In Love With You?” sung by a husband as he and his wife share their morning coffee and newspapers. Sung by Bryan McElroy, it reveals his honest affection and deep respect for his wife, which overcomes the inevitable boredom that is supposed to arise after years of marriage.
One of the more entertaining scenes of the show takes place when a young man informs his overbearing parents that he and his girlfriend are breaking up. She wants to focus on her career, and he is not ready to commit to marriage. The parents promptly roast both parties in the song, “Hey There, Single Guy/Gal,” telling their son, “We’re your parents, we support you, you little sh**!” The parents are played by Will Erat and Balan, and, decked out in wigs, glasses, unfashionable clothes and nasal harmonies, they are simply hilarious, as is Anne Bobby’s rendition of “Always a Bridesmaid,” in which she delights in being single but despises the brides’ choices in gowns.
Other scenes fail to delight quite as much, such as the “Highway to Love,” in which a passive husband and dominant wife switch roles once inside the family station wagon, does not contain any ground-breaking revelations about marriage, it does provide a laugh or two. And “Tear Jerk,” in which a man extols the virtues of masculine movies and the horrors of chick flicks but finds himself crying by the end, is predictable but, performed by Erat, endearing as well.
In an age of Sex and the City and Entourage, Friends and Will and Grace, discussions about the highlights and horrors of dating are not unusual nor are they uncommon. But when they’re set to music and sung by this cast, they sure are funny