Sunday, February 1, 2015

Wetumpka Depot: "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change"

In a series of some twenty vignettes spread over two acts, I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change takes audiences on a progressive musical journey tracking romantic relationships from first date through old age.

Since 1996, Joe Dipietro's and Jimmy Roberts' easy going revue has been delighting audiences around the world who see themselves reflected in many of its scenes; and now, under Kristy Meanor's fluid direction and Marilyn Swears' expert musical direction and piano accompaniment (with Esther Hart on violin adding just the right amount of romance to the agreeably charming score), audiences in the River Region are laughing their way through a diverting two hours that begins the Wetumpka Depot Players' 35th Season.

Originally performed with a cast of four, Ms. Meanor has expanded hers to a fine-tuned ensemble of eight, creating multiple opportunities for them to explore several personae, test their comedic chops, sing out with gusto, and deliver Daren Eastwold's creative and challenging choreography with confidence.

Whether playing a nervous couple on a first date, adolescent children or their frustrated parents, football obsessed macho men or their shopaholic wives, pathetic nerds or baby-talking new parents, sexually needy types or perennial bridesmaids, or senior citizens trolling funerals in search of a hook-up...there's something for every taste -- from innocent banter to risque comments, from outlandish caricatures to touchingly truthful individuals. -- "Find someone to love...and spend the rest of your life trying to change them" is the common theme throughout; sound familiar?

To a person, this veteran ensemble is top notch; Morgan Baker, Andrea Barclay, Adrian Lee Borden, Brooke Brown, David Brown, Joseph Collins, Alicia Ruth Jackson, and Matthew Walter bring an effervescence to their performances that helps elevate commonplace situations and broad stereotypes from quaint familiarity to unexpectedly focussed takes on contemporary relationships. -- Each has an opportunity (actually several of them) to showcase an impressive singing voice as well; and while audiences might have favorite moments (and judging by responses that are sometimes as entertaining as the antics on stage), what stands out here is the consistency of individual performances that support one another with an impressive generosity of spirit.

Thanks to a strong collaborative effort, I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change starts the New Year with an infectious charm to warm the winter cold...and the closing performance is on Valentine's Day...coincidence?!