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Take a Rollicking Ride Down the Romance Highway With 'I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change'

on May 3, 2014 - 10:25am
From left, Ken Milder, Julia Mundt, Elisa Enriquez and Bruce Lamartine, as mom, daughter and pizza guys, belt out 'He Called Me.' Photo by Steve Wolfel and Larry Gibbons
 
Jim Jenkins and Kate Ramsey try to impress on a date. Photo by Steve Wolfel and Larry Gibbons
 
Review by BONNIE J. GORDON
Los Alamos Daily Post

I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change took theatre-goers for a rollicking ride down the highway of love at the opening performance Friday at Los Alamos Little Theatre.

The show is a series of 20, mostly musical, vignettes about romantic love, during which various couples make the journey from strangers on a date to long-married spouses. There’s no plot and only one role that graduates from ‘man #1 or woman #2’ into personhood. Thirty-one actors make up the excellent cast.

Written by Joe DiPietro with music by Jimmy Roberts, this musical comedy opened on Broadway in 1996. The show has been a crowd pleaser. It’s the second longest-running musical in Off-Broadway history.

Most people will see themselves in these lovers treading the thorny path of romance, especially when things get rocky, or as they frequently do with l’amour, really, really embarrassing.

When a piece strives to define the common denominator, it nearly always skirts the edge of cliché and that’s the case with some of the segments here. A more serious problem is that gender roles seem stuck, not the 90s, but in the 50s. Dating, if successful leads to marriage; there are no decent single men; bridesmaid dresses are always ugly; men are clueless and watch a lot of sports; and women spend a lot of time waiting by the phone and shop too much. But this spritely musical send up manages to rise above these shop-worn themes through sheer exuberance and some really fun songs.

This is in large part due to the splendid cast and the excellent direction by Jim Sicilian. Directing this show must have been akin to stuffing cats in a sack. Live music by keyboardists Gretchen Amstutz and Suzanne Johnson and violinist Jackie MacFarlane was delightful.

As usual, I’m blown away by the talent on tap in Los Alamos. Christina Martos is always a joy. Her soaring voice, comic timing and ability to connect with the audience make her numbers, “I Will be Loved Tonight”’ and “Marriage Tango,” where she’s joined by the terrific Carlos Archuleta, are standouts.

One of my favorite scenes was Bruce Lamartine’s “Shouldn’t I Be Less in Love with You.” Lamartine infuses this tribute to long-married love with a poignant tenderness, sure to touch your heart.

Another favorite of mine was “A Stud and a Babe” with Jim Jenkins and Kate Ramsey as awkward lovers who just might be stumbling towards bliss. The actors hit just the right balance of silly and sweet.

As the only actual character in the play, Rose Ritz, Pat Beck brings a quirky woman into full bloom. The audience broke into spontaneous applause after her scene.

I could go on and on but I’ll just leave someone else out who deserves to be mentioned. Go to the play and pick your own favorites.

I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change continues at 7:30 p.m. May 3, 9, 10, 16 and 17 and 2 p.m. May 4 and May 11. Tickets are $12 for adults or $10 for students, and can be purchased at CB FOX, at the door, and online at lalt.org.

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