I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change
08/12/2010 - 11/12/2010
I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change is a hilarious musical comedy that explores delightful and diverse aspects of love. Everything you have ever secretly thought about dating, romance, marriage, lovers, husbands, wives and in-laws, but were afraid to admit!
Celebrating the mating game is a talented cast of six actors, each playing up to ten characters, taking on the truths and myths behind that contemporary conundrum known as ‘the relationship’ in unique and often comical situations.
This hilarious revue pays tribute to those who have loved and lost, to those who have fallen on their face at the portal of romance, to those who have dared to ask, “Say, what are you doing Saturday night?”
I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change is part of the Masters of Theatre Arts Programme (Toi Whakaari & Victoria University) and will be directed by Theresa Hanaray and musically directed by Craig Newsome.
8-11 December, 7.30pm
THE BASEMENT, Te Whaea: National Dance and Drama Centre
11 Hutchison St, Newtown
BOOKINGS: 04 381 9225 www.toiwhakaari.ac.nz
Featuring: Karen Anslow, Glenn Horsfall, Jane Keller, Liz Kirkman, Robert Tripe and Mark Westerby
PRODUCTION MANAGER/ Ricky Beirao
STAGE MANAGER/ Chelsea Adams
ASST STAGE MANAGER/ Deanne Rutherford
SET DESIGN/ Theo Winsjma/ Kay Leary/ Nina Smith-Stevens
SET CONSTRUCTION/ Halo Collins/ Rachel Hilliar/ Kay Leary/ Nina Smith-Stevens/ Theo Winsjma
COSTUME DESIGN/ Liz Carpenter
MAKEUP DESIGN/ Jarrod Kilmister
LIGHTING DESIGN/ Isaac Heron
OPERATOR/PRODUCTION ASSISTANT/ Tessa Anderton
MUSICIANS/ Hannah Fraser/ Lesley Hooson/ Craig Newsome
PUBLICITY/ Brianne Kerr
A fantastic night’s entertainment
Review by Jo Hodgson 11th Dec 2010
What a great night out at the theatre! As the promotional material states – this piece is a celebration of the mating game with “everything you secretly thought about dating, romance, marriage, lovers, husbands, wives and in-laws but were afraid to admit.”
Entering the space at the basement theatre we are put in the mood with some easy listening romantic music played by Craig Newsome (musical director) on Piano, Lesley Hooson on Double Bass and Hannah Fraser on Violin and you could even buy a Love Shot at the bar at the door.
The prologue opens the show with some very harmonious un-accompanied singing as it describes the creation of man and woman – somewhat deviating from the biblical story:
Man 1 And the Lord God said, “Let there be man and woman.”
Woman 2 And there was man and woman
Man 2 That night man asked woman if she was busy
Woman 2 And woman said, “Thank you, she’d have to check.”
Thus setting the scene and tone for a very entertaining, hilarious, thought provoking and at times very real journey through the maze that is love and relationships.
This musical is usually a 4 hander, but we were treated to 6 wonderful performers who come from a varied background of theatre experiences taking on a multitude of different roles.
Classically trained Jane Keller is no stranger to the stage, most recently writing and performing her own cabaret shows. Her well known comic timing was in full flight in ‘Single Man Drought’ and in ‘Waiting Trio’. Jane is a singing tutor at Toi Whakaari and I hope her students took this great opportunity to see her illustrate many of the techniques she teaches.
Karen Anslow is a very versatile performer and writer with a wide vocal range. We don’t get to hear much of her higher range in this particular show but in ‘Always the Bridesmaid’, Karen demonstrates a low rich tone I hadn’t heard from her before. The poignant monologue ‘The Very First Dating Video of Rose Ritz’ shows her amazing depth as an actress.
Glenn Horsfall returns to NZ this year after 5 years working in a variety of theatre environments in Australia. Glenn has a lovely clear warm tone to his voice and shows his versatility of range and style in many songs. especially the hilarious parentese babble of ‘Baby Song’, where as a first time parent he turns into an incoherent stranger to his bachelor friend who comes to visit. I recently saw Glenn playing Cliff in the musical Cabaret and it was great to see him revelling in the challenge of so many different characters, showing his huge strength as an actor too.
Toi Whakaari graduate Robert Tripe shows us his adaptability in both his vocal and acting skill through many different characters, from the geek who wants to be a stud, in ‘Stud and a Babe’, to the especially beautiful song sung by an elderly character to his wife of many many years, ‘Shouldn’t I be Less in Love with You?’, showing off an expressive tenor voice with gorgeous nuance and grace.
Producer Mark Westerby is back on the boards after being behind the scenes for several years and I hope that he doesn’t disappear off the stage again too soon. A strong colourful baritone voice with huge presence is evident in songs such as ‘Why? Cause I’m a Guy’ (a male duet sung with great gusto with Robert Tripe) to the gentle conversational duet between two aged singles deciding that in spite of all their ailments, and being set in their ways that they could start dating in ‘I Can Live with That’ sung with Jane Keller.
To round off this talented cast is Liz Kirkman – who also writes and directs theatre works. Liz is a beautifully expressive actress to watch and although maybe not as vocally experienced as some of the other performers shows a lovely crisp soprano tone in ‘He Called Me’ – a young woman delighted that a date has called her back when he said he would.
The trio accompaniment provides a strong backing of a difficult score, unfortunately marred at times by pitch inaccuracies from the violin which occasionally makes singing tuning a challenge, and somewhat heavy playing by the pianist, presumably not being used to accompanying singers – especially in the quieter numbers where the singers need the space to be able to give the emotional light and shade of the number.
That aside, a most enjoyable evening was had by all who were there and I believe this short season is nearly sold out. Congrats to Director Theresa Hanaray, and all involved for a fantastic night’s entertainment.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer
Love’s complex joys and pains explored
Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 10th Dec 2010
“First date, new romance, different partner, same dance, / Ready now, almost time, here we go, door bell chime” sing six nervous men and women in Cantata for a First Date hich is the prologue to the highly enjoyable ‘ revuesical’ I Love You, You’re Perfect – Now Change.
From first dates to old age, when an elderly couple meet at a funeral and decide that they can put up with each other’s faults and dubious pasts (I Can Live With That), the show takes us on a whirlwind tour through the complicated joys and pains caused by dating, love, sex, parenthood, companionship, marriage, and ageing.
The tour is embellished with clever, catchy songs and amusing monologues. The Off-Broadway show ran for 5003 performances in which four performers played all 60 roles.
At Te Whaea six actors play the roles. Robert Tripe and Mark Westerby with great relish rip through Why? ‘Caus I’m a Guy (“Meat-eating /Jock itching /Channel flipping /Belching, burping, / Scratching, snoring /Never-stop-to-ask-directions /Guy! Yeah!”), and Karen Anslow brings a comic pathos to the bridesmaid-and-never-the-bride who quietly thanks the Lord for her freedom.
Glenn Horsfall is very funny as a bloke at a movie his girlfriend has chosen as well as a besotted new father who is reduced to baby talk and is aware that he is regressing into incoherence. He is matched by Jane Keller as a mother who turns on her son when he tells her that he isn’t getting married, while Liz Kirkman plays a bride who isn’t at all sure she wants to go through with the ceremony.
The script has been adroitly Kiwified in places but the New York humour still dominates including a very strange, out of kilter sketch in which a seminar on how to approach the opposite sex is run by a convicted seven consecutive life sentenced criminal.
Performed on a transverse stage and supported by three musicians under musical director Craig Newsome and two hard-working stage managers the show tends to stop-and-start a bit as furniture is moved on and off for the numerous scenes.
However, the droll and often shrewd lyrics and monologues as well as the brio with which they are performed by all the cast make the evening run smoothly enough.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer
Mixing and matching through multiple ages and stages with wit, panache and flair
Review by John Smythe 09th Dec 2010
Six actors play 10 roles each over 20 scenes involving 20-odd songs, pretty well covering the full catastrophe that is ‘the mating game’. It was an interest in how to tell a story through song that prompted Theresa Hanaray to choose I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change as her master of Theatre Arts (MTA) in Directing showcase.
Now the second-longest running musical Off Broadway, since its debut just over 14 years ago (book & lyrics by Joe Dipietro, music by Jimmy Roberts), its universal themes and depictions of human experience apply very readily to any middle class urban / suburban setting in the western world.
Special praise, then, to Hanaray and her splendid cast for changing the New York references to Wellington ones, allowing the five Kiwis and one Welly-based American to use their own voices in dialogue and – yes! – in song. The result is authentic, intimate, insightful, touching and highly amusing: incontrovertible proof that truth in song came be found in the Kiwi voice.
Hanaray and musical director Craig Newsome (whose trio is completed by Hannah Fraser and Lesley Hooson) ensure the drama and comedy of the revue-sketch scenarios is to the fore, with singing and music the means rather than the end. Indeed some sketches involve no songs at all, so there is no sense that the script’s main purpose is to provide the cue for the next song.
Karen Anslow, Glen Horsfall, Jane Keller, Liz Kirkman, Robert Tripe and Mark Westerby mix and match with wit, panache and flair through multiple ages and stages, in a raised transverse space with rostra at either end, on which a wide range of furnishings appear. My only gripe is that some of the music-bridged re-setting scene breaks could be shorter (could the design have allowed for more streamlined striking and setting?), although I do realise sometimes actors are fast-changing backstage – and Liz Carpenter’s costume designs are excellent.
The show starts with a biblical creation myth about dating that segues into ‘Cantata for a First Date’, characterised by emotional baggage, draggage and saggage. Then Trish (Anslow) and Hugh (Horsfall) hilariously fast-track their new relationship by skipping all the inevitably awkward stages and ending, within minutes, with post break-up nostalgia: ‘We Had it All’.
‘A Stud and a Babe’ finds Julie (Kirkman) and Jason (Tripe) fretting over their inadequacies then taking a risk on who they really are.
In the scene called ‘Men Who Talk and the Women Who Pretend They’re Listening’, Tripe’s Bob #1 bores Anslow’s Veronica about aerodynamic engineering while Westerby’s Bob #3 witters on about golf to Keller’s Betty, causing both pseudo-interested women to confide they’re lying while justifying it because of the ‘Single Man Drought’, while the Bobs try to explain: ‘Why? ‘Cause I’m a Guy’.
Dinner and a flick brings Jane (Kirkman) and her guy (Horsfall) to a ‘Tear Jerk’ movie. His vow that “the chick will never pick the flick again” prove to be famous last words when his own tears make him all the more attractive to her.
Tennis buddies Danni (Anslow) and Charlie (Westerby) have a deuce of a time turning their friendship into a love match but at last the lure of lasagne lets her believe: ‘I Will Be Loved Tonight’.
In a family dinner scene Keller and Tripe play the parents of Mitch (Horsfall) who has been dating Karen (Kirkman) for two years, and when their dreams are crushed by these feckless youngsters they retaliate with ‘Hey There, Single Girl/Guy’.
Emerging from under the sheets, Horsfall’s egotistical man is gutted to discover Anslow’s woman is unsatisfied, prompting Westerby’s salesman to promote “the orgasm you deserve” while Keller’s lawyer recommends litigation: “If you partner doesn’t get off, we’ll get you the money.”
‘I’ll Call You Soon (Yeah, Right)’ has pizza-loving Debbie (Kirkman) over the moon when a guy she dated actually does call, causing her Ma (Anslow) to join in the ecstatic awards-style celebration.
A scary scene a meeting room at Mount Eden Prison sees Mrs Whitewood get mass murderer Mr Thomas (Tripe) to caution us against the perils of waiting so long for Mr or Miss Right that we flip like he did. Thus Brad (Westerby), who wants a nice Christian girl to be a housewife and mother, and Susan (Kirkman), a corporate lawyer looking for a nice Buddhist man, are ‘Scared Straight’ into going with each other.
In the Act One finale, Keller and Tripe’s clerics preside over a wedding as the Bride (Kirkman) and Groom (Westerby) express last-minute doubts over their ‘Wedding Vows’. The scene is reprised to open Act Two, the happy couple running off to their honeymoon in Samoa leaving Anslow to sing ‘Always a Bridesmaid’, bemoaning the frocks she is forced to wear – e.g. when you wear taffeta people laff-at-ya – and rationalising that although she lives alone the terms are her own.
Parenthood has reduced new first-time parents Marie (Kirkman) and Tom (Horsfall) to incoherent childlike strangers for their bachelor friend Frank (Tripe), so he leaves them to babble ‘The Baby Song’ between themselves.
In ‘Sex and the Married Couple’ Marlene (Anslow) and Zachary (Tripe) run through a long check lists of all the things they’ve remembered to do and unusually find themselves turned on. Despite interruptions from children (off) they revel in the possibility that ‘I’m Married and I’m Gonna Have Sex Tonight’.
A checklist starts the next scene too, as the wife (Keller) marshals her husband (Westerby) and the teenaged children (Kirkman and Horsfall) into the car to visit relatives, provoking dad to rock out ‘On the Highway of Love’, declaring that when he’s driving he’s the king of his domain but on the highway of life she’s driving him insane …
The ‘Waiting Trio’ has a man (Westerby) mesmerised by the TV while his partner (Anslow) waits for the rugby to finish, another man (Horsfall) waiting at Kirkaldies for his wife to try on shoes, and a desperate-to-pee woman (Keller) waiting in a queue for the loo (at a theatre presumably).
Kirkman and Tripe evoke lasting love as an aging couple with ‘Shouldn’t I Be Less In Love With You?’ then Anslow captures the way it is for a bitterly divorced woman in ‘The Very First Dating Video of Rose Ritz’.
A funeral parlour viewing room is the setting for aged singles Muriel (Keller) and Arthur (Westerby) to meet and, despite her resistance to his persistence, negotiate the possibility of some sort of relationship, with ‘I Can Live With That’.
The Epilogue returns to the biblical tone, proselytising with a litany of pop song titles and topping it all off with an ensemble rendition of the title song: ‘I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change’.
Every scene is well wrought, every character is rooted in truth, every relationship is recognisable and together they make for a very entertaining 2 hours 20 mins (including interval). Buried in the basement of Te Whaea, this show is a gem that will lift your spirits and leave you smiling.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer