Right before the curtain went up on “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change,” the usher said quietly that the show would be slightly over two hours with a very short intermission.
Someone beside me groaned and said, “This better be good.”
Actually it turned out to be a wonderfully funny, highly entertaining evening of good musical comeduy. Co-founder of Actors’ Summit (a Knight Arts grantee) Neil Thackaberry – and director for this production – made certain of that by some smart choices for staging and giving his singers room to do their thing.
The story is deceivingly simple – it’s all about relationships, and mostly between couples trying to be lifelong soul mates. There’s no real narrative.
There are instead a series of 19-20 vignettes divided pretty arbitrarily into two acts, yet it has an implied logic that goes from budding young love and marriage (or “cold feet”) through tired routines couples have, and ultimately on to divorce or widowhood and starting all over again.
That doesn’t sound particularly funny, but it can be and was in the hands of playwright Joe DiPietro and composer Jimmy Roberts. Early on there was a scene of men talking about themselves and what they liked, while the women replied first to them and then to the audience as to what they were really thinking. The scene rang all too familiarly true.
It’s hard to find stand out songs or routines in a show where the actors (Abigail Allwein, Stephen Brockway, Aubrey Caldwell and Keith Stevens) hit the mark each and every time.
As soloists, each performer was strong and belted tunes with authority, as Caldwell did as she deadpanned in country/western style “Always a Bridesmaid.” As an ensemble, they delivered the goods again. In Act 2, there’s an especially clever scene called “The family that drives together,” where the cast of four uses four kitchen chairs as their family sedan and scoot around stage as though motoring through the countryside. When they have had enough of each other, they split off in different directions, careening around the stage until finally coming back together when they know they really need each other.
“I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” playing through June 3 at Actors’ Summit, Graystone Hall, 103 S. High St, Akron; 330-374-7568; www.actorssummit.org . Tickets are $30 at the door.