Stage Struck Review

Reviews for theater within the greater Los Angeles area.

“I Love You, You’re Perfect…”: Slightly Uneven Romantic Silliness in South Pasadena

Gloria Bennett, Troy Guthrie, Mirai Booth-Ong, Jack J. Bennett in "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" in South Pasadena [photo: Cody Sullivan]

Gloria Bennett, Troy Guthrie, Mirai Booth-Ong, Jack J. Bennett in “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” in South Pasadena [photo: Cody Sullivan]

The Fremont Centre Theatre in South Pasadena has a new resident company: Young Stars Theatre. In general, their productions feature “junior” versions of plays intended for performance by – as the name suggests – young people. However, for this month when Valentine’s Day is central in people’s thoughts, they’ve opted for much more adult fare, as founders Jack J. Bennett and Gloria Bennett bring their traveling version of the episodic musical “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” to the South Pasadena.

The musical, which won kudos in New York in the late 1990s, celebrates many facets of romance, from dating to marriage, to children and what that can do to marriages and friendships, to the issues of aging and death which are a part of any long-term relationship. The Bennetts are joined by Troy Guthrie, who has worked with them on this show before, and Mirai Booth-Ong to create a series of interrelated and intersecting couples and singles who sing their way through the dramas of their lives.

Classical pianist Yukiko Elegino provides the impressive accompaniment, two small rolling tables, two racks of costumes and a certain amount of suspension of disbelief propels the audience through the disparate, brief story lines. It’s almost overly spare, but the material is strong enough to handle the sparseness.

Jack J. Bennett also directs the show, while Gloria Bennett and Elegino share musical direction credit. The direction proves fast-paced and fun, insightful, often charming, sometimes very funny and occasionally very recognizable. The performances are strong, for the most part, though Booth-Ong’s singing voice lacks both the power and timbre of those around her. Each has moments of impressive performance. Each has moments of less than optimal expression, but by and large the show is definitely worth a look, particularly if you are seeing it for the first time.

One word of warning, though. This may be being produced by a company focused on children’s theater, but this is not for young kids. From “I Will Be Loved Tonight,” in which a young woman awaits a young man she has invited to bring condoms with him to dinner, to the “Marriage Tango” – a very funny piece in which a couple with young children try desperately to find time for intimacy, intimacy in its most specific forms becomes major player throughout. Though not coarse, the discussions might raise a lot of awkward questions from the young.

What: “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” When: Through February 28, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and Sunday, February 14, 2 p.m. for all other Sunday performances Where: Fremont Centre Theatre, 1000 Fremont Ave. in South Pasadena How Much: $30 general, $25 seniors, Valentine’s Day Special: $55 per couple, $45 per senior couple – includes complimentary glasses of wine Info: http://www.fremontcentretheatre.com

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