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Rollercoaster of love
I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change takes on the ups and downs of relationships
By Michael Summers
Fort Wayne Reader
Innumerable songs have been written about love in all its many forms, and as far as attitude toward the subject goes, the songs in I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change probably lie somewhere between “Love Is A Many Splendid Thing” and “Love Stinks.”
The Fort Wayne Civic Theater’s production of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, — which begins its run on April 1 — takes on the trials, tribulations, and occasionally the sheer ridiculousness of love and male/female relationships.
In form and structure, I Love You, You’re Perfect… is a musical revue. It’s a term most musical theater fans are familiar with, but for the record, director Craig Humphrey, Associate Professor in the IPFW Theater Department, gives me a more exact definition (and he teaches a course on the history of musical theater, so he should know). “It’s basically variety entertainment — song, dance, and short scenes or sketches that are all separate entities connected by a central theme,” Humphrey says.
As we said, the central theme in I Love You, You’re Perfect… is love and relationships, and Humphrey says the characters we meet run the gamut of situations. “Essentially, Act 1 is first date through the whole dating experience, up to engagement and marriage,” he explains. “Act 2 is from wedding through marriage and raising a family. It covers divorce, dating among two senior citizens who are both widows…”
Every scene features different characters and a different circumstance, and the four cast members of I Love You, You’re Perfect… play all these roles. “I think each actor plays maybe 12 roles,” Humphrey says. “It’s actually been a lot of fun. It’s very broadly written, it’s very funny, so we’ve been able to take some liberties with some of these characters and make them larger-than-life.”
“And of course it helps that I have four really accomplished musical theater actors,” he adds.
Indeed, though they’re all pretty young, the four cast members — Alexandra Maxwell, Jessica Butler, James Velez, and Ethan Bair — have quite a lot of stage experience under their belts. Butler, Bair, and Velez have all worked with Humphrey before — Bair and Butler were in IPFW’s production of Urinetown, to give just one example. Holly Knott serves as the production’s musical director. “I’ve worked with her before, but this is actually Holly’s first time as the sole musical director,” Humphrey says.
The over-the-top characters allow the actors to set up a scene quick and play it for maximum comic potential. Alexandra Maxwell, a relative newcomer to local theater, explains. “I have one character… she’s a mom with two kids who is just nagging her husband — the father of the two kids — about his driving abilities,” she says. “I’m that passenger that just wants to say everything and correct everything. To make it humorous, to show the humor in that scene, I have to go over-the-top.”
As you might guess from the title, there’s a healthy dose of irreverence running through I Love You, You’re Perfect… But that isn’t to say its view of love and relationships is completely jaundiced or cynical. “It pokes fun at how foolish we all can be in terms of what we’ll do in the name of finding that perfect person,” says Humphrey. “But ultimately it’s very heart warming, and basically ends with the idea that it’s all worth it.”
Alexandra Maxwell agrees. Whereas some of the characters she plays in I Love You, You’re Perfect… are exaggerated for comic effect, one of her favorite songs comes from a character named Diane, whom we meet just as she has made a proper first date with someone she’s interested in. “The song is ‘I Will Be Loved Tonight,’ and it’s a really cute song,” Maxwell says. “She’s just met up with a guy she plays tennis with, and they’ve decided to actually have a date. And he walks away and she thinks ‘I’ve had all these times when I’ve been by myself and I haven’t had a relationship, and now it’s going to happen’.”
Another character Maxwell plays is a woman who has gone through a tough divorce, but is now ready to “get back into the game.” “The whole scene takes you through all her emotional ups and downs in a very short time — ‘I was loved once, I was hurt, but now I’m ready to get back out there and try it again’.”
“So, yeah, the audience will laugh at the nagging mom, at that couple,” Maxwell continues. “But they’re also going to think about some of these characters, to feel something for them, even though they’re only on stage for a few minutes.”
And that ability to evoke some kind of emotion in a relatively short time is what Humphrey says makes the best musical theater like I Love You, You’re Perfect… (which ran for a whopping 12 years in New York — the second longest-running off-Broadway musical ever) so special. “The inclusion of song and dance just lifts it to a higher emotional level,” says Humphrey. “It’s entertaining, but at the same time it can be moving or touching or outrageously funny. But song and dance just amplifies everything.”
Fort Wayne Civic Theater “Off-Main” presents I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change
Allen County Public Library
Friday, April 1 at 8:00 pm
Saturday, April 2 at 8:00 pm
Sunday, April 3 at 2:00 pm
Friday, April 8 at 8:00 pm
Saturday, April 9 at 8:00 pm
Sunday, April 10 at 2:00
Friday, April 15 at 8:00 pm
Saturday, April 16 at 8:00 pm
Sunday, April 17 at 2:00 pm
Tickets: $17/adult; $10/youth and student. Sunday matinees: $17/adult; $14/senior; $10 youth and student
Call: 260 424-5220
Or online at www.fwcivic.org