Playhouse Stage Welcomes You Back With The Perfectly Named “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change”
That’s how many days it’s been since I’ve been inside a Capital Region theater to see a show. The last one was “The Irish and How They Got That Way” at theREP 3/12/20. Last night’s performance of “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” presented by Playhouse Stage at Cohoes Music Hall was a homecoming filled with everything you love and cherish about your home and some of the irritations that make you wish your roots were more sophisticated.
“I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” is the second longest running off-Broadway musical, running for 5,003 performances. The longest running is “The Fantastiks.” The music is by Jimmy Roberts and the book and lyrics are by the very successful comic playwright Joe DiPietro whose “Over the River and Through the Woods” is scheduled for later this year at Curtain Call Theatre.
The musical revue is a collection of skits and songs on the theme of love and relationships. It doesn’t tell one story but attempts to be more universal with its depiction of scenes in a couple’s life presented in a somewhat chronological order from dating to marriage, children and old age. Written in 1996 and updated frequently, I assume, the material has an unwieldy mix of current and dated material. From whole skits built on Jacoby & Meyers and Scared Straight to sexting in the much weaker first act.
Besides Molly Rose McGrath’s shimmeringly lovely “Better Things to Do,” everyone in the first act tries too hard. The excellent band led by music director and longtime Playhouse collaborator Brian Axford is too loud, the comedy by Mr. DiPietro is too forced (and not particularly relevant emerging from a pandemic) and the company of Dashira Cortes, Brandon Jones and Marc Christopher are all working overtime to sell the retrograde dating humor.
Thankfully, the rumors of the intermission’s death are greatly exaggerated. Owen Smith welcomed us to the Music Hall between acts and introduced Mayor Keeler, who was instrumental in Playhouse Stage assuming management of the Music Hall. In the second act, everyone in the company has heart quickening, palpably beautiful, moving human moments that brought everyone in the building, the entire audience of 50 people to the acknowledgement that we need each other.
These four are fantastic Capital Region performers with big voices, charm to spare and can play together like a family. It’s a privilege to be in the audience for them. Dashira Cortes shines with “Always a Bridesmaid,” Brandon Jones flexes his muscles with “The Marriage Tango” and Marc Christopher scores again and again with his Dad behind the wheel “On the Highway of Love” a particular favorite. Michael Loporto, the longtime Playhouse director, has done a great job marshalling these four. They all have so many credits and such a long history together, I felt like we had arrived at Thanksgiving at a relatives’, the camaraderie and chemistry were so strong.
It was a great night in Capital Region theater, a celebration of getting back at it. I hope the charming young stagehands who moved props all night are in “Matilda.” It’s been twelve hours since I’ve been in a theater and I can’t wait to get back in another one and see Capital Region theater change.