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I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change
by Dipietro and Roberts; directed by Joel Bishoff
New Yorker Theatre, indefinite run (1997)

A Stage Door Review by Roger Kershaw and Jim Lingerfelt
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I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, book and lyrics by Joe Dipietro, music by Jimmy Roberts, and directed by Joel Bishoff is now playing for an indefinite run at the historic New Yorker Theatre in downtown Toronto. Billed as "Second City set to music" it's an intelligent musical and comedy revue of love, marriage and sex, and the relationships between men and women. Effectively interpreted by the small cast of two of each gender (Tufford Kennedy, Larry Mannell, Erin Keaney and Louise Pitre), the show comprises eighteen songs peppered with a several comedy sketches, each moderately funny and tinged with brilliance. I Love You, etc. has been a spectacular off-Broadway success and is now a welcome import to Toronto. Gauging the capacity Thursday night audience reaction, the laughs aplenty will continue here for quite a while.

Lloyd Webber's Aspects of Love or Phantom this is not, but as a light-hearted musical romp it covers all bases of love: meeting, dating, marriage, breaking-up, and even death. The skits range from the creatively inane (Cantata for a First Date) to one worthy of MAD-TV or SNL: a lawyer introduces a copulating couple and guarantees the big "O." It's both hysterical and very creative. The entire production is very humorous with some heartstring tugs thrown in for good measure. "I Can Live with That," set in a funeral home in which a new widow is picked up by a mourner from another funeral, is one of those tugs.

The wonderful cast serves the music well. Standout, star and all-around belter Louise Pitre returns to Toronto from wowing them in Paris as Fantine in Les Miz. Her strong sopprano coupled with impecable comic timing adds pure class to the show. Larry Mannell's gangly frame is equally effective in interpreting the comedy while his good voice provides wonderful support. Newcomer Tufford Kennedy is a delight, while understudy Erin Keaney, who replaed regular Sara McMillan on our night, comes with a sweet voice and personality but lacks the vocal resources necessary to really bring out the best of her emotive solo piece, I Will Be Loved Tonight.

Neil Peter Jampolis' set is reminiscent of one of those novelty Black Forest weather clocks with the boy and girl glued to a revolving platform. Flanking the turntable are backlit disks that illuminate the title of each musical or comedy skit. In the "cuckoo's nest" above the action are the pianist (musical director Michael Mulrooney) and violinist (Catharine Norman).

The music, while cute, lacks the depth and weight of today's mega-musical extravaganzas. What can you expect with titles such as A Stud and a Babe, and Single Man Drought, with lyrics like "she'll burn rubber, if I blubber!" The guffaws and knee-slapping , however, come fast and furious from the audience who seemed to enjoy every moment of the show. Jimmy Roberts's melodies are simple but quite effective with one tune in particular, the lovely I Will Be Loved Tonight, especially moving.

Tickets for I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change can be purchased in person at the New Yorker Theatre Box Office, any TicketMaster location, or by calling TicketMaster at (416) 872-1111. Performances run eight shows a week, Monday through Saturday at 8:00 p.m. with matinees on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. Groups of 15 or more can order tickets by calling (416) 348-0696.

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