||Sutter Street Theatre opened the first show in this
year’s Off Broadway season and unveiled its renovated theatre with the
Off-Broadway musical hit I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change
by Joe DiPietro and Jimmy Roberts. Imaginatively directed by Connie
Mockenhaupt, the show promises to be another big hit.
Billed as “everything you have ever secretly thought
about dating, romance, marriage, lovers, husbands, wives and in-laws,
but were afraid to admit,” the show covers familiar territory: first
date fears, meeting parents, first sex, horrible bridesmaid dresses, the
family trapped together in a car –
familiar territory for everyone – but it
does so with laugh-inducing dialogue and hilarious songs.
What earned this show its instant standing ovation,
however, was not the skits or the songs, but the outstanding ensemble
cast. It's hard to imagine four performers working more perfectly
together, each one shining and each making the others shine. The four
stars are Jennifer Morrison, Jessica McKillican, Michael Coleman, and
Christopher Celestin. And I can't single one out and say he or she was
Though the characters are given names in the program,
each performer in fact plays several parts of different ages and each is
convincing no matter whether they’re daters, middle-aged parents, or
elderly people still looking for love. Mike even, in one scene, is a
convicted mass murderer serving life without opportunity for romance!
The actors’ quick character changes are assisted by the costumes of
Eileen Beaver, who dresses them in different outfits for each of the
show’s twenty scenes. Wigs, created by Michael Coleman, also change to
define the characters. Michael is not only a terrific actor and singer,
but is also a wig expert.
And in a show that is mostly songs, every member of
the cast sings wonderfully, belting out tunes like Broadway stars. A lot
of the humor focuses on sex as you might suppose. (Leave the kids at
home.) One of the funniest moments is “I Will Be Loved Tonight” with
Jessica worrying about her fourth date with Chris with no sex yet. “Is
it me? Is it you?” Determined to change the situation, she invites him
for lasagna. She leaves to make dinner, and he says, “… and I’ll get
the….” She finishes his sentence “condoms,” but he says he was going to
say “wine.” Later we see them having disappointing sex under a blanket.
They are joined by a sex counselor, Mike, and a therapist, Jennifer.
They dive under the blanket again and emerge with huge smiles. Therapy
Mike and Jennifer have an amusing scene on a movie
date. Mike wants to see an action movie but gives in to Jennifer’s
desire to see a “chick flick.” Mike is appalled because a character is
“dying so slow” when he would prefer to see a chainsaw killer. By the
end of the movie, of course, Mike’s character is in tears.
Act One ends with a wedding, and Act Two follows with
married love. A really touching moment is a breakfast table scene with
Jennifer and Chris having a silent breakfast ignoring each other when
Chris’s character realizes he’s where he wants to be and sings
“Shouldn’t I Be Less In Love With You?”
The show closes with Mike and Jessica as old folks
meeting at a funeral. Each confesses what old age has turned them into,
but each finally declares, “I Can Live With That” as they head off
For the finale, the company sing and dance the title
song, “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change,” changing partners until
each ends up with the right spouse, and bringing the audience to its
feet, because it’s that delightful a show. I can’t remember a more fun
evening of theater in a long time. My advice is get tickets soon; Sutter
Street is going to have another sell-out show.