By Robert Bethune
"I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" needs no introduction. It has not achieved iconic status among off-Broadway musicals a la "The Fantasticks," but in the tradition of the small-cast, off-Broadway sketch musical, it's right up there with "Jacques Brel." It's perfect – so how do you change it to keep it fresh?
Tipping Point Theatre's current production is a zippy, energetic evening, with four performers – Chip DuFord, Courtney Myers, Stephanie L. Stephan, and Lorenzo Toia – who all share the one overriding prerequisite for a show like this: They're willing to just put it all right out there.
The cast, four strong character actors, keeps the show connected to real people in the real world. The acting and vocal approach taken by Greg Trzaskoma (director) and R. MacKenzie Lewis (music) follows up on that theme; it's strong and brassy rather than technically beautiful, though they give the title number, which is the last song in the show, a lovely sweetness. The choreographic approach from Michelle Hooks-Stackpoole is the same: strong and earthy, not dance-y at all, and very character-oriented. This is all as it should be; this show is no hothouse flower. No show that turns "Okay, motherfucker!" into one of it's funniest and most memorable moments has anything hothouse about it.
Monika Essen's set is fun; it's a pink drug-store Valentine with a giant bed that lunges out of the back like an ekkyklema. It seems to have a zillion secret compartments all over it; the cast is constantly popping open doors you didn't know where there and pulling props and costumes out of them.
The show has something to say: We are all children, all starry-eyed, bitter, wistful, vengeful, fearful, joyful children, anything and everything other than mature, when it comes to the heart. But things change with age; two touching scenes are about older couples. I would love to see this in rotating rep with "I Do, I Do." Go with someone you love.
'I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change'
Tipping Point Theatre, 361 E. Cady St., Northville. Thur.-Sun. through Oct. 12.Tickets: $18-$28. For information: 248-347-0003 or http://www.tippingpointtheatre.org.