Nancy Sasso Janis
- OnStage Connecticut Critic
Sharon, CT - This season Sharon Playhouse decided to present two musicals on their stage 2 at the Bok Gallery, right next door to the mainstage. Artistic Director John Simpkins explains that he felt the two musicals were best told in a more intimate setting; the Bok Gallery seats only 85 people per show in a long rectangular space. I missed ‘Judge Jackie: Disorder in the Court,’ but managed to visit the stage 2 for the first time on Thursday for a performance of the musical revue ‘I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.’
The small show with the big title ran for 12 years Off-Broadway, making it the second-longest Off-Broadway musical in history. (Number one? ‘The Fantasticks.’) The ever-changing vignettes pay tribute to all of us who have loved and lost with clever musical numbers and lots of humor. It is a fun romp that begins with dating and moves through marriage and beyond and it makes the four actors, two men and two women, work VERY hard to pull off innumerable costume, set and character changes at breakneck speed.
The titles of the scenes and songs give you an idea of where this is going. They include “Cantata for a First Date,” And Now the Parents, Wedding Vows, “The Baby Song,” Funerals are for Dating, and finally the title song.
‘I Love You….’ has a book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro and music by Jimmy Roberts and is easy to follow because there is not too much to follow. Jennifer Werner directed the cast of four with precision and did the choreography as well. Music director Joshua Zecher-Ross returned to the piano (wearing shorts in a space that wasn’t as cold as the mainstage but not warm either) and Dan Cooksey played a quiet bass guitar so that the actors didn’t have to strain their marvelous voices.
Jamie Roderick lit the space well and Michelle Eden Humphrey provided the contemporary costumes that allowed for many a quick change. Lauren Mills designed the simple set that contained a space to hide a couch and a casket...seriously.
I love to watch Sarah Cline do anything at all onstage; she was the best Fantine ever, Gussie in ‘Merrily We Roll Along,’ and Tessie Tura in ‘Gypsy,’ all in Sharon. She further proved her versatility in this production and I hope that she will be back on the Playhouse’s stages soon. Lee Harrington was also very strong in all her various ‘I Love You…’ roles and sang wonderfully. Their men brought charm and muscle to all the male roles. Ms. Harringtons’ boyfriend (awwwww) Dylan Wallach made his debut at this venue and is a Carnegie Mellon graduate. James Crichton rounded out the cast and was in the national tour of ‘Peter and the Starcatcher.’ He is a graduate of Hofstra University.
Kudos to the cast, crew (who worked throughout the intermission) and director on a finely-tuned production of this fun piece that continues with performances this weekend on Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 1pm and 5:30pm. Call (860) 364-7469.