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‘I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change’ at Centre Stage

July 29, 2012
By JACK FELIX - Sun-Gazette Correspondent , Williamsport Sun-Gazette

STATE COLLEGE - If you want an extra scoop of tasty ice cream, you might ask for a double dip. If two area theatres are reprising a popular musical comedy presented years ago , you might call it a double dip of "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change."

Both Williamsport's Community Theatre League, 100 W. Third St., and State College's Penn State Centre Stage are offering theatregoers a refresher course in love.

Locally, CTL first presented "I Love You ..." in 2004 as one of the first attractions when moving to the downtown home in the Trade and Transit Center and has tentatively scheduled a reprise as part of its upcoming 2012-13 season.

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And celebrating its 10th year in the Downtown Theatre Center on South Allen Street, Penn State Centre Stage is reprising "I Love You...", first presented in 2003. Now playing at the Penn State Downtown Theatre Center through August 4 is "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change," the longest running musical revue in off-Broadway history.

The perky music by Jimmy Roberts aptly matches the lighthearted nature of the comical vignettes of Joe DiPietro's book. This production is boosted by the return of a veteran from the original production, Don Farrell. Cary Libkin, who leads Penn State's Music Theatre program, is back in the director's chair having directed "I Love You ..." during the Downtown Theatre Center's inaugural season.

Completing the all Actors' Equity Association four member cast are Rebecca Baxter, Audrey Caldwell and Brad Frenette.

With witty writing, the nearly 20 scenes with upbeat songs explore the ups and downs of love and varying relationships.

Director Libkin said, "The title pretty much says it all, doesn't it?" But "I Love You..." is not only about men and women, after finding the perfect mate, trying to change each other, but also how relationships are perceived in a lighthearted manner.

Act I focuses upon the funny dating and mating game culminating in a marriage, while Act II zeros in on newlyweds, parenthood, divorce and senior citizens.

Each of the foursome cast has good voices and each gets ample chance to show different personalities, playing over a dozen different characters with many rapid costume changes. But it is Rebecca Baxter and Don Farrell who carve out the sharpest (and funniest) characters.

Act I's funniest scenes include "Tear Jerk" (Farrell) in which a he-man starts weeping during a sad movie and "The Lasagna Incident" in which a girl blurts out something she expects her date to bring to dinner - and it isn't wine. "Satisfaction Guaranteed" got the biggest laughs when a couple's so-so lovemaking is interrupted by a lawyer popping up in their bed to spout a commercial for "Jacoby and Meyers and Masters and Johnson."

Act II opens with "Always a Bridesmaid" in which Rebecca Baxter bemoans playing second fiddle while wearing a hideous bridesmaid gown. A cute bit of "automotive" choreography reeves up in "The Family that Drives Together."

On the downside is "The Very First Dating Video of Rose Ritz." Audrey Caldwell got solid applause, but the vignette is a monologue of a bitter woman trying to get back into the dating pool after being jilted by her husband and, with no tune, runs counter to the revue's lighter tone.

My favorite segment is "Funerals Are for Dating" in which Don Farrell and Rebecca Baxter, as senior citizens, are attracted to each other after meeting at a wake.

This production also excels with efficient scene changes - with "stagehands" quickly moving the set pieces on, off and around the stage. They also are occasionally incorporated into certain scenes when the lights come up, as are the on-stage accompaniments pianist Roberto Sinha and violinist Grace Kim.

Although "I Love You" suffers in some eyes because of its revue format as opposed to a traditional storyline with songs that advance the action, this amiable musical comedy deserves a look - as in looking in a mirror to recognize yourself - and another look. It's almost as funny upon a second viewing.

For a summertime treat, savor Penn State Centre Stage's "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" and experience just how entertaining the agony, the ecstasy, and the hilarity of love can be.

For tickets, call 814- 863-0255, 800-ARTS-TIX; or visit:



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