I LOVE YOU, YOU’RE PERFECT, NOW CHANGEBook and Lyrics by Joe DiPietro
Music by Jimmy Roberts
Directed by Neale Whitmore
Music Direction by M. Shane Hurst
Choreography by Emily Leekha
Stage Manager/Light Board – Katie Radke
Technical Director/Set Designer – Alex Rain
Costume Designer – Dallas Costume Shoppe
Light Designer – Alex Ammons
Prop Designer – Elise Knox
Sound Designer – Neale Whitmore
Sound Board – Jeri Tellez
Crew – Allie Skowron & Guillermo Vallentin
Woman 1 – Robin Clayton
Woman 2 – Stephanie Felton
Man 1 – Joshua Hawkins
Man 2 – John Wenzel
Keyboard, Conductor – M. Shane Hurst
Drums – Randy Linburg
Reviewed Performance: 2/14/2020
Reviewed by Chris Hauge, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Many of you may remember that the 1995 play “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change”, with book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro and music by Jimmy Roberts, had a long and successful run at Theatre Three in Dallas. It would also pop up around the area on Valentine’s Day. As time went on, many of the references in the show became dated, which led theatres in the area to cease producing it. In 2018, an update was done to bring the script into the 21st Century. Theatre Frisco’s staging of it is one of the first, if not the first, production of the updated script in the North Texas area. The show is a series of songs and black-out sketches following the travails and wonders of romantic relationships. From the awkwardness of blind dates to the realization that the need for love and intimacy never abandons us, even in our twilight years, the show is a delightful overview of the rocky and, hopefully, fulfilling road to love. The play’s wit and heart are worn openly on its sleeve. Its portrayals of modern dating (Stephanie Felton & John Wenzel, who are such busy people they decide to skip to the relationship’s inevitable conclusion on the first date in the song “Better Things To Do Than You”), the desire to be attractive to the opposite sex (Robin Clayton & Joshua Hawkins belting out their need to be “A Stud And A Babe), and all of the other thrills and hazards of romance strike a warm and universal note.
With a cast of four and two musicians (M. Shane Hurst & Randy Linburg), the show is a stripped-down affair, which adds to its appeal. We have heart-decorated panels (designed by Alex Rain), on either side of the musicians, and put upstage center. The rest of the stage area is the actors’ playground and director Neale Whitmore has made good use of it. Not a bit of it is left unused. All of the action is paced very well and the choreography of Emily Leekha is great fun (particularly in “The Marriage Tango” in which a long-married couple anticipate the possibility of sex, and “On The Highway Of Love” which is performed on office chairs and has us travel along on a family’s road trip through Hell).
The songs are catchy and range from hilarious (“Always A Bridesmaid”, “Picture Of His Penis”) to achingly heart-felt (“I Will Be Loved Tonight”, “Shouldn’t I Be Less In Love With You?”). The talented cast of actors makes the most of these musical numbers. They also shine in the various sketches and all of them have a great sense of comic timing.
Robin Clayton is woman 1 and is a wonderful talent. Whether playing an uncomfortable young woman lustily yearning to be a babe, or a woman yearning for intimacy, or a middle-aged divorcee recording a dating message, her acting is grounded in reality. Her singing is strong and when she needs to touch the heart, she does so with ease and skill.
Woman 2 and all of the characters that come with her is performed with great joy by Stephanie Felton. She was wonderful in the number “Always A Bridesmaid”. Dressed in a blue satin gown with a wild bow in her hair she sang of the frustration of not only not being the bride but being stuck with a closet full of hideous dresses. Ms. Felton is incredible in this song, and she gives the same commitment to each role and song she tackles.
Joshua Hawkins as Man 1 has a quirkiness to him that is endearing. He is convincing whether he is boorishly talking on and on about monster trucks, or is terrified into getting married, or is a man in a long-term relationship wistfully singing “Shouldn’t I Be Less In Love With You”, or wonderfully touting the virtues of sending an obscene picture to a date.
As the man who is too busy to sit through a first date, and an older man gently trying to pick up a date at a wake, and a person trying to impress his date with his movie knowledge, and, especially, as a hardened criminal clad in prison stripes, John Wenzel gives his all as Man 1. With boundless energy and fantastic stage presence he makes each of his characters distinct and memorable. I will admit, his prisoner scene was among my favorites of the night.
My thanks to Theatre Frisco for inviting this old friend of a play back to the area and for giving it such a delightful production. So, if you’re familiar with “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change”, come get reacquainted and enjoy the changes that have been made to make it look a little younger. And for those who have not had the honor of the play’s company, this is the perfect chance. You’ll remember the encounter.
February 14 – March 1, 2020
Friday & Saturday – 8:00PM
Saturday & Sunday – 2:30PM
Frisco Discovery Center Black Box Theater
8004 North Dallas Parkway, Suite 200
Frisco, TX 75034
For tickets and more information call 972-370-2266
Or visit on the Web at www.theatrefrisco.com