I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change
The John W. Engeman Theater offers a wonderful production of the popular musical about relationships.
In the show, four actors demonstrate the relationships between a wide range of people through playwright/lyricist Joe DiPietro's hilariously clever vignettes about horrible first dates, meeting baby-hungry parents, and surviving family trips in the car. The stories allow audiences to see the humor in the truthful scenarios, no matter how over-the-top they're played.
Every segment is significant, whether it's a laugh-out loud piece ("Sex and the Married Couple"), or a song with a more endearing tone ("I Will Be Loved Tonight"), and composer Jimmy Roberts' music adds yet another layer of gaiety to the enterprise.
There's no shortage of talent in the Engeman cast, as each one of the quartet takes on a slew of characters, ranging from the dorkiest of nerds, to an elderly couple, to annoying teenagers. Howie Michael Smith brings the same enthusiasm that he utilized so well as Princeton/Rod in Broadway's Avenue Q. His vigor is reminiscent of Adam Sandler, though it's more varied. Benjamin Eakeley, who shares the male roles with Smith, demonstrates an adorably cartoonish persona in scenes such as "Tear Jerk," in which he laments having to sit through a sad chick-flick with his date, only to end up with buckets of water streaming down his own face by the end credits.
Joanna Young adds the same pretty vocals and comical range to her bevy of characters that she contributed to the similarly shaped Off-Broadway hit Rated P….for Parenthood, while Kate Wetherhead proves to be the standout amongst these top-notch artists, especially in the sketch "The Very First Dating Video of Rose Ritz," a quirky yet honest monologue that simultaneously pulls at the heartstrings and funny bone.
Director BT McNicholl has made crafty choices in this production, including multiple references to Long Island hotspots. For example, the cast heads to the Walt Whitman Mall in "Waiting," and make mention of the theater's neighboring street, 25A. His staging is intelligent and thoughtful, especially considering the challenges of moving the show through a great deal of settings.
Aiding in overcoming this obstacle is the quick costume design of Ryan J. Moller, who not only makes every scene easily tangible by his choices of attire, but also helps to make the segues between segments feel seamless.