Review: I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change (James Downing Theatre)

     
    

Witty, fun show upended by uneven cast

     
     

From left to right are: Micah Fortenberry, Elissa Newcorn, Elise Morrow-Schap and David E. Wojtowicz.

  
The James Downing Theatre presents
   
I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change
 
Book/Lyrics by Joe DiPietro
Music by
Jimmy Roberts
Directed by
Dale Hawes
at
John Waldron Arts Center, Chicago (map)
thru March 6  |  tickets: $15-$20  |  more info

Reviewed by Allegra Gallian 

Love.

Whether you’re in it, searching for it, hating on it or agonizing over it, love is always a favorite topic of discussion, and never fails to spark heated discussions or wistful storytelling. Love causes people to do crazy things, and no matter how many times people have been spurned by it, most find themselves right back out there hoping that this next first date will lead to “the one.”

Elissa Newcorn is “Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Bride” in a scene from 'I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change' by the Charles Downing Theatre Chicago.I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, a musical revue, explores the highs and lows of dating, relationships, marriage, children and everything in between. The show itself is clever and witty, humorously exploring the plight of single people, the highs and lows of marriage and what having children does to a married couple’s sex life.

James Downing Theatre’s production of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change starts of well with the four-person cast (Micah Fortenberry, Elise Morrow-Schap, Elissa Newcorn and David Wojtowicz) singing the ensemble opening number. Each cast member shows off their personality and distinguishes their characterization right from the beginning.

As the series of vignettes and musical numbers continues, it becomes increasingly clear that the casting is uneven, causing an imbalance between the cast. The woman (Morrow-Schap and Newcorn) clearly outshine the men with both their musical talents and their strong stage presence. The woman belt out the songs with confidence and flair, showcasing their voices and offering genuinely touching or side-splitting moments with solos such as “I Will be Loved Tonight” and “Always a Bridesmaid.” Both Morrow-Schap and Newcorn are sassy and quick with the comedic timing.

Because the women are so fantastic, it makes it abundantly clear that the men are not on the same level. Fortenberry begins a little stiffly but does relax and eases into his characters as the show progresses. He becomes adorable as the “awkward guy” on dates. Yet his singing voice is not powerful enough to withstand the fullness of a musical revue. His voice isn’t bad by any means, but it lacks the power and depth to belt out number after number with force. A man’s man (David E. Wojtowicz, right) is mortified when his date (Elissa Newcorn) picks a romantic tearjerker.Wojtowicz also lacks the depth in his voice to carry through the musical numbers. Perhaps it’s the character voices he uses, but his singing voice is less than stellar and his performances are dimmed by his fellow cast mates.

The costuming for I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change borders on high school musical costumes. In some scenes it looks like the actors have just brought in clothes to wear from their own closets and in other scenes the makeshift costumes look cheap and unfortunately visually detract from the performances. Some stronger direction and detail with costuming could have amped up the show.

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change finishes strong with an ensemble finale number. Though this production struggles to overcome its mismatched ensemble, the show itself proves to be witty and entertaining, finishing on a high note.

  
  
Rating: ★★
 
 

From left to right: David E. Wojtowicz, Elissa Newcorn and Elise Morrow-Schap. James Downing Theatre Chicago

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change plays at the James Downing Theatre, 6740 N. Oliphant, through March 6. Tickets are $20 and $15 for seniors and students. They can be purchased at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/153540.


Cast and Production Team: Directed by Dale Hawes with Music Director, David Richards, the wonderful comically and musically talented cast includes Micah Fortenberry, Elise Morrow-Schap, Elissa Newcorn and David E. Wojtowicz. Lighting and sound design is by Steve Kedzierski. Set design is by Joshua Dlouhy.

  
  

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