Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe
I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change
I Love You ... is a series of vignettes, each with a cast of two to four characters. As with the Off-Broadway production, the Adobe uses the same four actorstwo boys, two girlsin different roles through the 26 mini-plays. While there is no continuity of charactereach vignette has new charactersthere is a theme that runs throughout. The first act covers the male/female battleground of dating and relationships. It ends with a wedding.
The second act brings babies into the relationship mess. We move from happy marriage through divorce. At the end, we see geriatric dating. The second act is far more serious than act one, partly because marriages get serious when children and divorce raise their thorny heads. While there are still plenty of laughs through act two, the subject of relationships is elevated. And yet, the short stories still remain catchy.
Through it all, there is plenty of song. The Adobe production is blessed with four strong voices. All come from deep musical experience. Jimmy Finch has years of experience in opera, performing with UNM Opera Theatre and Opera Southwest. Jessica Fisher is a graduate of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in NYC. Tasha Waters holds a Masters of Music from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and a B.A. in Vocal Performance from Washington University. Brian Clifton has performed in a slew of musicals. I'm continually amazed by the high level of experience we find in Albuquerque performers.
One thing that is really noticeable is how well the ensemble works in unison. Among the four actors, there is a consistent level of high performance. No stars outshining their fellow actorsthey all come with a strong and bright light. That may be in part due to the clear and steady direction by Adrienne Cox. It is probably also due to mutual professional respect among the actors. I'm sure some of the credit goes to music director Andrew Alegria.
Mindy Sampson's piano is the backbone of the music throughout the show. She covers a wide range of musical styles. Thankfully, Jimmy Roberts has written a variety of styles of music for the musical, which saves things from becoming repetitive. Sampson handles all of the styles with clarity and oomph, giving each number its own sparkle.
This production is quite a lot of fun. There is no mid-act slump. Each song, each tiny story of relationship joy and relationship pain has its own punch, its own color. This musical could easily devolve into sitcom sappiness, but it doesn't. It stays refreshing throughout, and it builds with its own disjointed momentum into a satisfying whole.
Nice job on the simple-but-appropriate set by set designer Bob Byers. Also kudos to choreographer Rebecca Dawson, stage manager Samantha Swan, and costume boss Judi Buehler.
I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro, music by Jimmy Roberts, is directed by Adrienne Cox at the Adobe Theater, 9813 Fourth St. NW, through September 2. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 pm, and Sunday at 2 pm. General admission is $15. Admission for seniors, students, and ATG members is $13. For reservations, call 505-898-9222. For more information see the Adobe Theater website, www.adobetheater.org