In a rare feat, Tony Award winner Joe DiPietro and Jimmy Roberts have crafted a new, updated version of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change that is as fresh, affecting and delightfully funny as the original when it debuted 21 years ago.
The off-Broadway musical ran from 1996 through 2008 for a remarkable 5,003 performances, making it the second-longest running in theater history.
DiPietro wrote the book and lyrics and Roberts the music for both the original and revamped version, which reflects the current marriage between technology, dating and social media.
From “Googling” someone before meeting them for a date, to weathering parents’ opinions about love lives (or lack thereof), I Love You includes something relatable for everyone.
Donald Trump, Twitter and Tinder help give the musical its contemporary feel, as well as a number about men sending “dick pics” as a viable way to impress women.
The universality of the themes is engaging and unifying. The uplifting, playful music is especially creative and memorable.
The series of vignettes covering everything from crushes, dating, marriage, babies and bereavement makes them musical a director’s dream.
George Street Playhouse’s Artistic Director David Saint is nothing short of brilliant in the way he orchestrates Charlie Williams’ choreography. Quick costume changes match the transformative nature of each scene.
Coupled with Jim Youmans’ innovative projections and scenic design, the show is appealing both thematically and aesthetically.
Some might consider the show safe within its stereotypical pathos, but its execution and ability to connect with its audience make it truly special.
The actors slide fluidly from movie theaters to restaurants to shopping malls, transforming as seamlessly as the sets. Every performance is extraordinary.
George Merrick’s (Clever Little Lies) hysterical lament over his frustration over being dragged to the latest chick flick is a standout as is his heart-tugging diatribe with Lindsay Nicole Chambers as they play an elderly pair who make a connection at a funeral.
“I Can Live with That” is an 11 o’clock number that won’t soon be forgotten.
Chambers (Lysistrata Jones) is exceptional in her fast-paced Act II opener “Always a Bridesmaid.” She reviews the contents of her closet, bewailing, “All those husbands are gone, but those dresses live on.”
Get ready for the waterworks when Mitchell Jarvis (Rock of Ages) breaks into “The Baby Song,” contemplating the change in his and his husband’s persona after they become fathers.
The images behind him in this scene are a bit cringe worthy–would you believe teddy bears geared up for S&M? Not necessary.
Karen Burthwright’s (Jesus Christ Superstar) divorcee in a scene titled “The First Dating Video of Rose Ritz” is a perfect exhibit of DiPietro’s talent for meshing humor (the dating site is called “EndoftheRoad.com) with poignancy.
Those scenes that have not been updated still pack the most powerful punches, and that is not to the show’s detriment.
The heart of I Love You lies in its timeless sentiment, such as Jarvis’ “Shouldn’t I Be Less in Love with You?” an aside as a middle-aged husband considers his wife and their standard lives.
Even in it’s new form, it’s easy to see why the musical has withstood the test of time.
The George Street Playhouse’s interim venue, while its regular location is being transformed into a new performing arts center, is 103 College Farm Road. Visit the theater’s web site for more information.