Hets in Heat

Straight-folk sex & giggles in I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change.

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I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change Hanna Theatre, Playhouse Square Through June, 216-241-6000
Apparently, heterosexual wedlock is teetering on the brink of extinction, what with Congress musing about a constitutional amendment banning legalized gay unions and President Bush urging that $1.5 billion be spent on supporting male-female marriage. Against all odds, however, and even without the benevolent hand of the federal government, guys and gals continue to hook up, cook up babies, and continue our species.

Toasting the indomitable spirit of men and women together is the musical revue now at the Hanna Theatre, I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, a show that expends a good percentage of its wit in its title. The promotional material dubs it "Seinfeld set to music." But in reality, this collection of songs and skits is more like The Bachelor set to a metronome, with predictable book and lyrics by Joe DiPetro and a mechanically repetitive musical score by Jimmy Roberts. Still, this production, scheduled to run through June, is saved by some amusing (though unsurprising) dating and family-life jibes, and a cast that squeezes every ounce of good humor out of what, in lesser hands, would come off as threadbare material.

Just pick your cliché, and there's a song to address it, whether it be the serious shortage of desirable single men or the characteristics of testosterone-poisoned males who date chicks. While there's a good bit of male-bashing, the distaff side also gets gently lampooned. The first act focuses on the foibles of the dating scene, and the second act plumbs about an inch or two into the depths of marital misunderstandings.

Under the experienced direction of I Love You . . . veteran Ray Roderick, the energetic cast of Cleveland-based performers buffs this bundle of bromides to a high gloss. The open-faced and appealing Larry Nehring is a delight to watch as he morphs from role to role, one moment a dazed boyfriend and the next a TV huckster asking, "Did you ever wish you could sue someone for not satisfying you sexually?" Julie Hogan and Tricia Bestic possess the best singing voices, and each has her high points comically -- with Bestic capturing the mini-agonies of someone who's "Always a Bridesmaid," and Hogan tearing it up in her show-stopping soliloquy as a video-dating virgin. Excellent actor Nicholas Koesters sometimes locks in too fiercely on his characterizations and slips from the easy style of revue comedy. But he's a riot as a stud-wannabe and touching in his tender second-act solo.

This polished production benefits from a handsome black-and-purple-skyline set by Russ Borski and simple but solid piano and violin accompaniment. I Love You . . ., playing to a cocktail-enhanced audience seated cabaret-style at small tables, is perfect (and perfectly undemanding) light entertainment that will no doubt be a popular draw. So why not invite your favorite heterosexuals out for this pleasant diversion at Playhouse Square? To judge by the recent news, they could use a break.

About The Author

Christine Howey

Christine Howey has been reviewing theater since 1997, first at Cleveland Free Times and then for other publications including City Pages in Minneapolis, MN and The Plain Dealer. Her blog, Rave and Pan, also features her play reviews. Christine is a former stage actor and director, primarily at Dobama Theatre...
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