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Sheer Entertainment Tops Sharon

Theater review
by Kevin T. McEneaney
Thu Aug 4th, 2016

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change! currently playing at Sharon Playhouse is, by turns, cute, silly, and charming. Dwelling on themes of dating and subsequent trials of marriage, this assembly of skits, monologues, solos, duets, and ensemble singing will seduce you into a higher level of amusement, no matter what challenges, foibles, or difficulties you may be coping with. Unlike most attempts at theater humor, the jokes are amusing, varied, on target. This four-actor play boasts being the second longest running off-Broadway production, and once you experience it, you will understand why that record possesses admirable heft.

The first act dwells upon frustrations in the dating game—the near-impossibility of finding a mate one can live with for any length of time. Directed to chiefly a thirty-something crowd, it has the frisson of post-thirty memories for those who have graduated into more awkward situations and can glance carelessly backward with laughter.

Both James Crichton and Dylan Wallach deliver formidable acting performances and deliver decent singing performance, but it is the ladies who have the voice: Lee Harrington’s solo “I will be Loved Tonight” stamps an indelible impression of aspiration and Sarah Cline’s solo “Always a Bridesmaid” projects resonant humor and pathos. Harrington nails “The Very First Dating Video of Rose Ritz” as she captures vivacious confusion in rambling confessional monologue. Cline amusingly dominates with intense passion in the duet “Marriage Tango,” while Crichton ably navigates the nuances of “Shouldn’t I be Less in Love with You?”   

Wallach excels in my favorite skit, “The Family that Drives Together,” while Crichton manages to hold his own against the ladies in “Waiting Trio.” Ensemble numbers that conclude both acts convey intoxication. This musical limns none of the high seriousness of Aristotle’s catharsis theory, yet anyone who attends will be rewarded with a vivid emotional and mental reset. I walked away with a light step that contradicted my anguished afternoon tread.

Director John Simpkins has managed to encourage an improvisational suspense in actor movement. Even blocking of actor movement by choreographer Jennifer Werner exudes drama. Joshua Zecher-Ross on piano injects spontaneity and flawless drive on varied piano styles. Quick change costumes by Michelle Eden Humphrey remain a delectable scream. This musical comedy doubles down on a satirical self-mocking perspective, yet it accomplishes this with unexpected gentleness and sly wisdom.

It remains amazing that all this talent, work, and exuberance can be experienced at such low cost. If you need a quick uplift, I can’t think of a better space to inhabit. You will be uplifted by this production. I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change! runs at Sharon Playhouse until August 14. For more information visit http://sharonplayhouse.org/theatre or call (860) 364-7469.