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Washington DC by Susan Berlin

I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change

Also see Susan's review of The Taming of the Shrew

After running for more than a decade in New York City, the musical revue I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change has finally come to the Washington area as the first attraction at The Bethesda Theatre, a renovated Art Deco movie theater in suburban Bethesda, MD. The restored theater sparkles, but that's not true of the show itself.

Authors Joe DiPietro (book and lyrics) and Jimmy Roberts (music) have created a series of musical skits based on the premise possibly fresher in the 1990s than today that men and women need each other, spend their lives trying to find each other, but can't communicate when they finally get together. In other words, men are from one place in the solar system, women from another.

Director Andy Gale puts his talented cast (Jean Arbeiter, Scott Evans, Marcie Henderson, Timothy Warmen) through their paces on an efficient but puzzling set by Neil Peter Jampolis that suggests a yard fronted by garage doors. Two musicians, a pianist and violinist, provide accompaniment from a balcony above the stage floor.

DiPietro's characters have no more depth than one finds in the usual television situation comedy. The performers enact snapshots of relationships from before the beginning ("Cantata for a First Date") through dating, marriage, parenthood, aging, and eventual widowhood and finding companionship at funerals.

While the show offers scattered nuggets of recognition, it's more about familiar stereotypes: men want to watch mindless violence and naked women when they go to the movies, but women prefer weepy romances; men get exasperated when women expect them to go shoe shopping, and women get annoyed that men prefer watching football to spending quality time with them; bridesmaids wear ugly dresses; and new parents can no longer sustain conversations that don't involve baby monitors or cutesy nicknames.

Some moments amuse more than others, such as a couple deciding to enact an entire relationship, from meeting to post-breakup, in about 10 minutes; disappointed parents trying to deal with the fact that their son is not, after all, going to marry that nice young woman they like so much; and, most outrageously, mismatched singles facing a "Scared Straight" lecture from a prison inmate. But all in all, it's a show that might have worked better had it arrived earlier.

The Bethesda Theatre
I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change
October 4th December 31st
Book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro
Music by Jimmy Roberts
Cast: Jean Arbiter, Scott Evans, Marcie Henderson, Timothy Warmen
Directed by Andy Gale
The Bethesda Theatre
7719 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda, MD
Ticket Information: 301-657-7827 or www.BethesdaTheatre.com


-- Susan Berlin


Also see the Current Theatre Season Calendar for D.C.



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