Theatre Jacksonville opened its second show of the 2011-2012 season with the Joe DiPietro/Jimmy Roberts musical, “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.” All performances are at Theatre Jacksonville at 2032 San Marco Boulevard in Jacksonville. Call 396-4425 for reservations.
To get directly to the point, the Dual Critics loved it, it was perfect and DON’T change it until the rest of Jacksonville’s musical theatre lovers see the show before it closes on December 17.
How good is this show? It opened Off-Broadway in 1997, and closed in 2008 after 5,003 performances. If a musical lasts that long, it has to be good and have universal appeal.
This lively musical is in the form of 20 short scenes or vignettes that all have the central topic of love and relationships. Although there is no plot as such, the show starts with a scene dealing with first dates (very funny, and presents an entirely new approach), and progresses through marriage and having children and beyond.
This show marks the debut of Lee Hamby as a Director and Costume Designer at Theatre Jacksonville, but this Renaissance man is well known in Jacksonville’s theatre world as a performer, director, costumer, set designer and choreographer.
This show is usually done with four performers, but the turnout for Mr. Hamby’s auditions was so good, that he decided to increase the cast to six people, an excellent decision.
All the actors play a variety of roles young and old in different combinations. In reading the biographies in the program, one immediately notices that Jacksonville University’s theatre program certainly has made an impact on the local theatre scene.
Gary Baker and Michael Fritton are both JU graduates. Currently students and enrolled in the Musical Theatre program are Keisha Marie Gill, Alejandro (Alex) Rodriquez and Nikki Spies. Rounding out the cast is Kathy Sanders, who moved to Jacksonville a year ago with her Navy husband and drowsed her way through “The Chaperone Drowsy” as the bride’s chaperone in Theatre Jacksonville’s production earlier this year. Cast members are outstanding singers, and also excel in the art of comedy.
When you see the show, be prepared to laugh as this is one of the funniest musicals we have seen this year. With twenty different scenes, you will have your favorites as we did. One of our favorites were “The family that Drives Together” with Michael, Nikki, Kathy and Gary in the family automobile. In this case, four wheeled office chairs that they brilliantly maneuvered around the stage. (Choreography by Alex Rodriquez). Another zinger was “Scared Straight,” with Keisha, Alex, Kathy and Gary, that portrayed an over-the-top guidance counselor who forcibly emphasized the need for compromise. This is as far as we’re going with content; we’ll leave the rest of the scenes for you to experience on your own.
The set by Lee Hamby and Technical Director Jeffery Wagoner was a backdrop of hearts, with a large heart in the middle where the titles of each segment were projected. Lighting Designer Wagoner showed off the new LED light system in an impressive fashion, varying the background colors and projecting a disco ball, among other effects.
With so many different scenes, there was a great deal of furniture that was moved on and off swiftly during brief blackouts. In addition, the show was prop heavy and Stage Manager Ashley Augustyniak and Assistant Stage Manager Lindsay Curry were efficient and busy as they brought items on and off the set.
Musical Director Laura Peden on piano conducted her three-piece orchestra to perfection.
If you have ever been in love or in a relationship or have been married, or wanted to be married, you will be able to relate to this show. This show does have adult language and situations, so be advised.
The large Saturday night audience exited the theatre with smiles on their faces; no doubt some of the situations and emotions on stage hit home in their personal lives. The production is a fast-paced show that will leave you laughing. Congratulations to Lee and your fine cast for a splendid evening of fun.