Theater Review: Artists' Ensemble presents I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change

A brief run at Rockford College’s Maddox Theatre makes this production a must-see for this weekend. Since Ain’t Misbehavin’, the musical based on a series of vignettes with a small cast, has met with great success on Broadway and throughout the country, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change meets this criteria perfectly.

Richard Raether’s cast, professional and exceptionally talented, perform every number superbly. Erin Dickerson, Peter Robel, Jennifer Loftus and Erik Uppling begin the evening with “Cantata for a First Date.” Their costumes, monk-like robes, give no hint of what is to come, but a quick change readies them for the complications of dating. Robel and Dickerson’s “A Stud and a Babe” display the anxieties of the insecure desperately trying to become sex symbols. Roebel and Uppling join in “Why? Because I’m a Guy” proclaiming their masculinity.

Set in a variety of venues, we see that romance can occur anyplace. Uppling and Loftus are seated viewing a “chick film.” Narrating the plot, Loftus reveals just how women relate to a “Tear Jerk.” Uppling’s complete breakdown is hilarious. His ability to perform comedy takes the whole show to a new level. Dickerson’s sensitive rendition of “I Will Be Loved Tonight” is a moment of quiet in a sometimes raucous production. Act I concludes with “The Wedding Vows,” and we know that the difficulties of marriage loom.

“Always a Bridesmaid” displays Loftus as the frustrated maid of honor, and we see Jan Bacino’s ability to costume effectively. Bacino said, “I wanted to create the look of a lamp shade.” The outrageously ornate and colorful dress did just that. The multiple costume changes would challenge any designer, and Bacino meets that challenge. Noel Rennerfeldt’s art-deco background provides the needed changes for such a variety of sets. A few tables, a couch, a bed often were all that was needed to show us the scene.

Babies arrive, marriages dissolve, and couples age. Some romances last forever. Others fade and end. It is often the stress of everyday life that causes that last straw. “Waiting Trio”… waiting for the shopper, the occupied restroom, and the spouse who does everything on his/her time.

Tim Anderson’s musical direction gives the entire production a flawless continuity and an evening of exquisite music. The cast have wonderful voices, and Anderson brings out their talent in every way. He plays the score, and Rachel Handlin on violin is a subtle addition. Accompanying a singer can be tricky. Anderson’s expertise makes I Love You, You’re Perfect… equal any Broadway show.

Artists’ Ensemble could not have a better season opening. As it is only running Friday, Sept. 15 at 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 16 at 4 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 17 at 2 p.m., you need to call 226-4100 for tickets.

From the Sept. 13-19, 2006, issue

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