Encore Michigan

Caution: “Love You…Now Change” at Snug will inspire hand-holding

Review September 21, 2015 Tanya Gazdik

Whether it’s your first date or your 400th, or even if you are going stag and just looking for some comfort and laughs, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change does not fail to disappoint.

The trials and tribulations of dating, love, marriage and family get a thorough working over in The Snug Theatre’s production of the timeless musical comedy that ran for more than 5,000 performances from 1996 to 2008. There’s a reason why the show, with book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro and upbeat music by Jimmy Roberts, was the second-longest-running Off-Broadway musical: It’s adorable.

changeFrom primping for the first date and then struggling to converse, to waiting for that post-date phone call or taking the decisive walk down the aisle, Act One covers the nuances of dating and mating rituals. Act Two flashes ahead to the agonies and triumphs of in-­laws and newborns, trips in the family car, and the pick-­up techniques of the funeral-attending, widowed, senior citizen crowd.

Four veteran actors – Bradley Hamilton, Katilyn Casanova, Kyle Burch and Natalie Rose Sevick – play the more than 60 characters in the 20 scenes, each of which is a quick vignette. They never skip a beat, and their singing and acting is spectacular throughout.

The lighthearted look at relationships is plagued with predicable pitfalls and obstacles with which nearly everyone, regardless of age, gender or lifestyle can identify. One doesn’t have to be in a current relationship to appreciate the songs and sketches where the women complain about the scarcity of single men, the hideousness of bridesmaids’ dresses and the men who fret about when to make the move to push interactions into the bedroom.

Speaking of the bedroom, a hilarious scene called “Satisfaction Guaranteed” offers a commercial by the law firm Jacoby & Meyers & Masters & Johnson that promises couples better sex through contractual agreements. The equally funny “Scared Straight” is set in a jailhouse and uses a convicted murderer to persuade two high-maintenance daters to lower their standards and take the plunge.

The production, which is directed by Kathleen Conlon, includes playful references to local roads and establishments. Conlon also designed the sets, which are simple yet effective brightly colored door fronts.

Music/vocal director Ellen Skinner-Bowen coaxes a first-class performance out of all four actors, notably Hamilton, who commands the stage in all scenes, but especially as the new father who can no longer speak anything other than baby talk and as the elderly widower trying to romance a fellow attendee at a wake.

Choreography is minimal, but the use of spinning office chairs as the seats in the family car is clever and well-orchestrated. Light Design/Technical Director John Kreidler’s use of scene titles being projected on the set helps remind the audience of the subject matter without having to constantly try to consult one’s program in the darkened theatre. If only some of the theatergoers didn’t feel compelled to read the titles aloud and comment on them before the scene can begin.

Kudos to Kathy Vertin for creating the world’s most hideous hot pink bridesmaid dress, complete with giant head bow, for Sevick to wear while singing the country-western number “Always a Bridesmaid.” Don’t feel sorry for her, though. She sings of how the experiences of watching her friends marry – and often quickly divorce – have taught her to value her independence while making contrasting observations such as “when I look in my closet there’s a rainbow deposit” and “my friends can’t assess a man or a dress.”

The play, which is just shy of two hours, moves quickly as does the 20-minute intermission. Suggesting that patrons wander down the street for a drink might not be the best idea if you actually want to start the second act on time, however.

A gentle request to the front-of-the-house crew: Please consider not seating latecomers until intermission, perhaps letting them sit in a chair off to the side rather than bringing them to their seats in the middle of the small theatre. The energy of the show is disturbed by such intrusions.

And energy there is. The up-tempo pacing critical to a revue such as this radiates from the stage, gently slowing down for the sweetish, if maudlin. penultimate scene, “Funerals are for Dating.” More than a few couples held hands as they left The Snug and strolled down the main drag in Marine City. As intended.

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Week of 11/23/2020

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