This weekend is the last chance to see the wonderful production of “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” at the Chester Theatre Group’s Black River Playhouse:
Here is our review: The Chester Theatre Group, one of the finest community theatre companies in New Jersey, premiered their latest production this past Thursday evening (St. Valentine’s Day)….the laugh fest “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.” The show, with 5,003 performances, is the second-longest running Off-Broadway musical (“The Fantasticks” is number one with a 42 year run!) The book and lyrics are by the master of comedy Joe DiPietro, with music by Jimmy Roberts.
Joe DiPietro’s funny, touching, romantic and clever concoction is directed with great style by Chris Mortenson with musical direction by Tom Rodgers.
New Jersey born and raised Joe DiPietro is one of our favorite comedy playwrights with a marvelous view of the everyday world and the humor that lurks around every corner. His funny and warm comedy “Over The River And Through The Woods” recently had two fine productions in North Jersey. On Broadway he did the book for the Matthew Broderick starring “Nice Work If You Can Get It” and won the 2010 Best Book of a Musical Tony Award for “Memphis.”
In 1996 DiPietro turned to a different form of comedy with a very human, honest series of brief non-connected tales about the misadventures of dating and marriage and everything in between. The result is a fun fast-paced journey observing amusing up close and personal, often hilarious, vignettes between couples.
Chris Mortenson has perfectly cast the six roles of three men and three women. Over the course of twenty scenes the talented cast keep transforming into a wide range of easily identifiable fugitives from the dating to mating game. Accept this as a warning – you may have uncomfortable moments when you relate too closely to a character ….a
nerd, a geek, a stud or a goddess, for example.
The excellent cast members are Thom Boyer, Dave Straczewski, Jill Cappuccino, Claudia Metz, Ericka Traugh and Esteban Vazquez. We reviewed a fine production of “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” last November at another of our top community theaters….The Barn in Montville. The Barn’s production included only four actors, whereas Mortenson gains greater performing variety by using six instead of only four performers.
The leading numbers of both productions are, of course, identical. The clear audience favorite is the opening number of the second act “Always A Bridesmaid” performed by the fine comedy performer Claudia Metz. Claudia, with Esteban Vazquez as the videographer, also scores with a touching number about a lonely Jewish widow making her first dating video (“The Very First Dating Video of Rose Ritz”), She reminds us of our favorite New Jersey comedy treasure….Liz Zazzi.
Esteban Vazquez’ standout number is “A Stud and a Babe,” with Jill Cappuccino, as a love starved nerd. The very attractive Cappuccino is effectively transformed into a geek (no easy feat).
The funniest duet has to be “Funerals Are For Dating” with Dave Straczewski and Ericka Traugh. They are two lonely senior citizens who start on the path of romance when they meet at a funeral home for the viewing of a recently departed “friend,” with one minor complication, neither has any idea who the person in the coffin is! The two are paired in the first act in a particularly clever number “Not Tonight, I’m Busy, Busy, Busy” with the amusing song “We Had It All.”
Thom Boyer and Jill Cappuccino have fun with “The Lasagna Incident.” Jill delivers nicely the poignant number “I Will Be Loved Tonight.”
Claudia Metz, Ericka Traugh and Estaban Vazquez are all hilarious in “Scared Straight,” but Dave Straczewski as ‘the prisoner’ is so spot-on that his performance in this one scene may be worth the price of admission.
The key production credits: Roseann Ruggiero producer; Melinda Scotti stage manager; Tom Rodgers music direction and keyboard, Roseann Ruggiero and Peg Hill costumes, Stephen Catron and Chris Mortenson set design and construction, Jeff Knapp and Jeff Jackson sound design; and Ellen Fraker-Glasscock lighting design. Tom Rodgers’ music trio includes; on bass Tim Metz alternating with Jay Brunka and Linda Howard and Aimee Briant alternating on violin.
The Chester Theatre Group’s production of “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” will provide you with non-stop laughter.Terrific cast and fine music wrapped up with Joe DiPietro’s superior book and lyrics. This is a fine example of how enjoyable live theater can be. You have until March 3rd to see this great date play.
Reviewed by Rick Busciglio February 14, 2013
Final performances are this Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 p.m., Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. at the Black River Playhouse in Chester, New Jersey (corner of Maple and Grove Street).
Tickets: General admission $24 and Seniors (65+) and Students (under 18) $22. For reservations, call 908-879-7304 or visit www.ctgreservations.com. The CTG website is www.chestertheatregroup.org.