Dallas — For the 18th and final year, Theatre Three has mounted a production of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change! in Theatre Too!, the intimate basement theater. Now they’re giving this funny and intelligent show about romantic relationships an energetic and delightful sendoff, which runs through March 4.
The 1996 mega-hit by Joe DiPietro and Jimmy Rogers ran a dozen years off-Broadway, and has enjoyed lengthy runs in more than 250 cities worldwide. Clearly, this musical revue is striking some universal chords in its celebration of courtship, marriage and everything that comes after.
Director B. J. Cleveland, who directed last year’s updated production featuring a fresh young cast and references to smartphones, keeps the show moving swiftly through Dennis Canright’s sharp minimalist set, all to the beat of musical director Adam C. Wright’s adroit pacing.
The actors Aaron Green, Greg Hullett, Janelle Lutz, and Liz J. Millea play multiple roles with a quick change of costume and a prop or two. They all have strong singing voices, and the acting skills to deliver the comic one-liners with zing or wring every drop of poignancy from a song about the surprises of love between old people.
The episodes move in an arc from first-date nerves and the trauma of deciding what to wear, all the way through the ta-dah moment of marriage, the exhaustion of parenthood and right up to the funeral parlor pickup.
The tunes are catchy if not especially memorable, and the lyrics pick up each vignette to carry each scene forward. Lutz, who appeared in last year’s production, is hilarious and touching in her “Always the Bridesmaid, Never the Bride” number, clad in costume designer Samantha Grace’s marvelously awful three-tiered dress and standing in front of a rack of similarly terrible bridesmaid dresses. Every woman’s heart aches for this poor darling and her tacky also-ran outfit. Happily, Lutz looks like a million bucks in a short blue dress with 5-inch heels in another scene.
Green and Lutz are paired in the laugh-out-loud vignette of a married couple determined to get it on despite the threatening presence of demanding kids in the triumphant duet, “I’m Married and I’m Gonna Have Sex.” Woohoo.
Green shifts gears toward the end of the show, singing a romantic and sincere ode to a long, successful marriage, “Shouldn’t I Be Less in Love with You.” And to prove that the quest for love goes on despite death, funerals and old age, Hullett and Millea get the last laugh as two oldsters who attend wakes because, well, you just might meet a nice person to get coffee with.
This show is a hit for good reason: it’s a perfect blend of the hard times and tender moments, that championship season and the losses we all experience in our lifelong attempt to find and nurture love with another person. I wouldn’t change a thing in this familiar and still funny and moving show.
Some might see be sad to see it leave T3’s boards, but the theater is going through much-needed change under Jeffrey Schmidt’s new leadership. Plus, after T3 releases its hold on the production rights, community theaters all over North Texas will snap it up.