I really liked "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" when Oregon Cabaret Theatre first produced it in its 2007 season. It was a delightful evening of song, dance, harmony and many laughs, and not a few moments of poignancy. On second viewing, the play and the production are still delightful.
At that time, the play had been running off-Broadway for 11 years — second only in longevity to the perennial "The Fantasticks." It's been translated into many, many languages, played around the world. This year, its author, Joe DiPietro, just won two Tony Awards for Best Book and Best Score for his current work, "Memphis."
"I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" examines the landscape of relationships between men and women. The first act covers that awful dance known as dating. The second act covers marriage, parenthood and starting over late in life. Jimmy Roberts' music combines rock, country and even a little bit of classical.
This production is a reprise of the 2007 one and then some. The director is, again, Kevin P. Hill, who also worked on previous Cabaret productions of "tick, tick"…BOOM" and "Forever Plaid." Two of the original cast members, Kymberli Colbourne and Damon Calderwood, are also back, joined by Colum Parke Morgan and Allison F. Rich, both making their debut at OCT. It is an ensemble of very versatile, talented people with beautiful voices.
"I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" is never patronizing, never arch, never cute. It is beautifully honest, ever hopeful and always upbeat. In short, it doesn't pretend to be Sondheim but it's a lot more interesting than Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Craig Hudson's set is minimal — a backdrop of lush burgundy velvet curtains, white proscenium and some tables and couches that emerge to set the scene and occasional glimpses of the magnificent stained glass windows of "the old pink church." Above the set is a video screen that announces the "theme" of each scene, such as "The Lasagna Incident" or "I'll Call You Soon —Yeah, Right."
There are standout solo numbers. Rich's "I Will Be Loved Tonight" is a joyful paean to physical intimacy. "Tear Jerk" by Colbourne and Morgan lets us see that some guys are really softies when it comes to the movies. Colbourne's raucous country "Always a Bridesmaid" is a joyful, wry view of the aftermath of happily-ever-after. Possibly the most beautiful is Calderwood's "Shouldn't I Be Less in Love With You?"— still in love after 30 years of marriage.
But it's in the ensemble pieces that the cast gets a chance to really shine. Every scene works — there's not a clinker in the bunch. I loved "Why? 'Cause I'm a Guy" and "Hey There, Single Guy/Gal," where parents weigh in on their kids' "selfish" lifestyle. Or "He Called Me," when even the pizza deliverymen hope for the best. Or "I Can Live With That" — two elderly widowers sizing up each other for the experience of dating again.
The "orchestra" is simply a piano belted out by Meagan Iverson and a violin played by Robert Dubow with musical direction by Jennifer Schloming. That's it. It works beautifully.
Costumes are by resident designer Kerri Lea Robbins, lighting design by Benjamin Brown and sound design by Tom Feeman.
"I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" plays at the Cabaret through Aug. 30, Thursdays through Mondays at 8 p.m. with a matinee on Sundays at 1 p.m. (except for July 4). As always, pre-show dinner (or brunch) is available with desserts, drinks and coffee also served during intermission. For more information, call the Cabaret at 488-2902.
Robert Kent is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.