Throughout the performance Ricci Fisher (right) and the rest of the cast captivate the audience with amazing talent and well-coached musical performances.
The MATC Performing Arts production of I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change is a pleasant artistic surprise from a college that has the word "technical" in its name. A cast of talented singers and ambitious actors perform a refreshed take on this musical revue about the ups and downs of love. Like love itself, the show has its highs and lows, but overall is a well-done production that makes for an enjoyable night at the theater.
Written by Joe DiPietro, I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change has been continuously staged since 1996 -- making it the longest running off-Broadway musical. It's been called "Seinfeld set to music," which is an astute description of a show that is so widely-loved for being down to earth and unbearably funny. But if you've seen this honest and hilarious show before, be prepared for some updates. A lot has happened in the world of dating since the mid-90s, and MATC Performing Arts has modernized the show to a day and age where cell phones and match.com are often inevitable parts of the courtship ritual.
To further sweeten the deal for all you Packers-backers, I Love You has been Wisconsinized with references only folks from around here will get. One of the scenes occurs at the Waupun Correctional Institution, for example, and, yes, a cheesehead does make an appearance onstage if you look closely enough.
Though I Love You is written for a cast of four, director William Patrick Barlow opted to use ten actors in order to have a more diverse cast comprised of both MATC students and community talent. This beefed-up cast is responsible for impressive company numbers that are among the most memorable tunes in the show. However, most scenes still feature four actors or less, and often felt too small for the stage. Some adjustment in lighting could have helped visually shrink the space to better fit the size of the scene.
On opening night, energy seemed to waver. In some moments the acting was dead-on: hilarious and crisp. Other scenes felt under-rehearsed. Nearly every aspect of the show could have stood to be taken a few notches up in the evening's show -- amplification, diction, enthusiasm, and pace were all a bit fuzzy at times.
The highlight of I Love You was the musical talent of the entire company. The cast is full of incredibly talented vocalists who sounded crystal clear and precisely on pitch -- even as they reached for some tough notes. MATC student Ricci Fisher is not new to wowing crowds with her powerhouse of a voice -- she won an award at last year's MAMAs for her work with band Alton Kelly. Throughout the performance Fisher and the rest of the cast captivate the audience with amazing talent and well-coached musical performances. Accompanying the diverse and beautiful voices is Paul Gmeinder on violin and Music Director Taras Nahirniak on piano -- both of whom offer fantastic performances that complete the show.
Running over the next two weekends and just in time for Valentine's Day, I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change would make a great night out for any couple or group of friends. It might even make a fun date with that cutie who just winked at you on match.com. No matter who's at your side, come prepared to laugh and be ready to laugh hard at yourself!