Millbrook’s ‘I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change’ caps Main Stage season with lots of laughter

MILL HALL — Sooner or later, if not while waiting, then perhaps while dating, someone is bound to say “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change!”

Milllbrook Playhouse, 258 Country Club Ln., serves up this fun-loving ode as its Main Stage finale with 7:30 p.m. performances tonight, tomorrow and Saturday, with a 2 p.m. curtain on Sunday.

Artistic Director David Leidholdt’s choice to cap off Millbrook’s 55th season features some quirky lyrics, plenty of nods of recognition and loads of all out laughter.

The show consists of a series of vignettes, mostly independent of each other, about the trials and tribulations of looking for love — and the sometimes unintended consequences of a hilarious hook­up.

With book and lyrics by Joe DePietro, and music by Jimmy Roberts, this musical comedy has enjoyed a lengthy Off-Broadway run since its New York opening in 1996.

Maybe some of the popularity of the countless productions by collegiate, community and professional theater groups is traceable to the show’s structure, which allows flexibility in casting. Although sometimes as many as eight cast members are featured, Millbrook wisely follows the original version with just a quartet of actors comprising the cast.

From the howls of laughter and the standing ovation on opening night, it’s evident that Millbrook’s cast of four deserves a four-star rating.

Back in the director’ chair is Robert W. Schneider, whose sure-fire direction maximizes the laughter in this fast, smoothly-paced production. A notable member of the Stage Directors and Choreo­graphers Society, Schneider keeps the several vignettes zipping by as the cast quietly and quickly slides the various set pieces — sofas, tables and chairs — off and on the stage, while staying mostly in character.

Although most of the vignettes feature or end with a song, some are played out for the comedic or poignant effect without any vocals. Still, the show succeeds primarily because of its witty comedy, rather than its music.

There are at least a half dozen segments which bring peals of prolonged laughter, even causing the actors on opening night to bite their lip to stop from breaking character.

Act I highlights include the macho man weeping at a chick flick and the unexpected blurting out of what a date should bring.

The segments in which the in-laws don’t get expected joyful news, and the couple too exhausted for sex also bring howls. The most imaginatively-choreographed vignette is “The Family that Drives Together,” done on sliding office chairs.

The script has been updated with the cast using cell phones, but one or two of the added vignettes is probably unnecessary. “When A Man Texts A Woman” prompts some audiences members to laugh heartily, but apparently also made others somewhat uncomfortable.

And the vignette most out-of-touch with the show’s theme of romantic concepts has a mass murderer in a prison’s orange jumpsuit menacing the audience. Certainly it is no major loss if this rage gets deleted.

Each of the talented foursome display good acting and singing. David Friedman, Aaron Gooden, Alex Frost and Katrina Diehm shine with their facial expressions, clear diction and voice characterizations.

There’s effective lighting and a couple of projection screens alert the audience of the upcoming scene titles.

With Justin Horwitz’s music direction, several vocals involving complex harmonies cap-off many a frantic-paced segment.

The evening’s vocal honors go to Alex Frost for “I Will be Loved Tonight” and her comical “Always a Bridesmaid” shows her strong voice.

Mixing the sentimental with the comical, the endearing “Funerals Are for Dating” is one of the show’s highlights.

Aaron Gooden’s “Shouldn’t I Be Less In Love With You” (without any dialogue) is the production’s most touching tune.

Although the season-ending shows feature smaller-sized casts, as “An Act of God” only featured God and two angels, and “I Love You, Now Perfect, Now Change” has only four performers, these smaller shows are very big in entertainment value.

For an untraditionally-structured musical comedy, Millbrook’s finale is an often hysterical, and hard-to-top attraction.

For tickets call 570-748-8083 or visit www.millbrookplayhouse.org.

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