Reviewed by David L. Schriber
“I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change,” the longest running musical revue in off-Broadway history, is Joe DiPietro’s hilarious commentary on love between the sexes, tracing relationships through the years of one’s life. The Cider Mill Playhouse’s staging is first rate. Cast members Michael Andrako, Rebecca Orly Cohen, Shannon Roma DeAngelo and Jared Eberlein give stellar performances, with expressive faces, well-balanced voices and great chemistry. On the night we attended, there was hardly a bump in the fast-paced lyrics. Lighting and stage changes went flawlessly. Jan DeAngelo directed and provides musical incidental and accompaniment music.
The opening number laughs at preparations for a first date by young adults, admitting the “baggage” that sometimes comes along. In a sketch titled “A Stud and a Babe,” Andrako and Cohen portray a stereotypically awkward pair discovering they don’t really need to be a stud and a babe to be attracted to each other. Cohen and DeAngelo reveal what goes through a woman’s mind while a man is trying to impress her, and Andrako and Eberlein explain the reason for the irritating habits of men – “Why? ‘Cause I’m a Guy!”
Eberlein, stuck watching a teary chick flick on a dinner-and-a-movie date, finally succumbs to tears, which he maintains are allergies until his date says she loves a man who’s not afraid to cry. Andrako’s libido is aroused when Cohen’s invitation to a homemade lasagna dinner promises more than a tour of the kitchen. Her own hopes for the evening are revealed in a slip of the tongue as she completes Andrako’s line, “Then I’ll bring the….” He’s thinking wine; she’s thinking safe sex.
In a parody of torte lawyer TV commercials, Eberlein pops up in bed between a frustrated couple to explain how a properly drawn performance contract will enhance the bedroom experience. “If your partner doesn’t take you to heaven, we’ll take ’em to court!”
The second act features DeAngelo as a bridesmaid – never a bride, Eberlein as a new dad blubbering baby language, and Andrako and Cohen trying to find conjugal privacy amidst the interruptions of young children. (Ya gotta love Andrako’s “Man of Steel” briefs!) A man’s love for his car (“When I’m driving, I’m the king of my domain”) is cleverly sketched by the cast taking a family trip across stage on four rolling office chairs which split off in four directions at the height of confusion.
In this otherwise impudent reflection on love and marriage, there are two poignant scenes with serious messages. In one, long-married Andrako wonders, “After 30 years together, all those brutal fights … Shouldn’t we have split like all our friends? … Shouldn’t I be less in love with you?” before smilingly reaffirming his life-long commitment to DeAngelo. Finally, in “Funerals are for Dating,” Eberlein and DeAngelo portray widowed elders meeting in a funeral home. Acknowledging the limits and imperfections of old age, they find “I can live with that.”
The Cider Mill’s production of “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” is well-acted with humor, seasoned with a little naughtiness and with a few moments of sage wisdom. No audience member will admit exactly how many of these vignettes sounded familiar, but the abundant laughter makes it clear this play is on the mark. The show continues through Nov. 28.