Failure to engage is the phrase that mostly describes the Segal Centre’s latest offering, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, which recently finished its run on May 29. The Joe DiPietro-Jimmy Roberts musical is reminiscent of the ’70s skit format, featuring different vignettes about man-woman relationships, each with a song.
Of the 20 or so selections, only five hit the mark, with the rest rating comments like hackneyed and predictable.
A few are insufferably corny, and several segments are physically painful to watch, like the pseudo Dr. Ruth and her team of sex therapy attorneys promoting their services, using Cabaret accents, or the lame scene in which a mass murderer tries to scare singles “straight to the altar.”
If you can sit through the first act, the second offers more bearable material. Of course, none of this is the cast’s fault, and they throw their energies unstintingly behind the rock of a script, pushing it uphill all the way.
Even though the four actors share the load, Steffi DiDomenicantonio proves the most resilient. She steals the show with her second-act opener Always a Bridesmaid, turning the rant against the hideous dresses her character has been forced to wear into a spunky cowgirl ditty for the modern woman.
Her comic timing is a delight, as she proves again in the cute scene with Adrian Marchuk and a coffin. The two portray seniors who frequent funerals for something to do, falling for one another over a supermarket salami sandwich smuggled in as refreshment. Underused choreographer Kerry Gage finally gets to show her stuff with the couple’s sweet soft-shoe hoofing to I Can Live With That.
The show takes on different stages of love through dating, marriage, a first baby, teenage mayhem, meddling mothers, divorce, the search for a new mate and love even when the body begins to fail.
At times, it’s just plain silliness like the young couple reduced to baby talk when their friend brings over a gift for the new arrival. Other times, it’s simply tired routines, like the endless skit about waiting. A husband waiting for a shopping wife, a wife waiting for her husband’s TV sports program to end, a woman waiting to use the facilities before her bladder bursts – none are scintillating subjects.
There’s even duplication of a well-known comedy routine centring on a fellow who asks his girl to choose their movie and how his disdain for a tear-jerking chick flick turns into… well, you get the idea.
Luckily, before you can completely shut off from the boredom, Will Lamond shows his serious side in the lovely ballad Shouldn’t I be Less in Love With You? It’s a touching tribute to couples who have been married for 30 years and have kept their feelings from fading.
Tringa Rexhepi shows off her voice in I Will be Loved Tonight. Both she and DiDomenicantonio enjoy morphing from character to character as they don various wigs and the inventive costumes designed by Louise Bourret.
The only ominous garb is that of the two robed and cowled monks who open and close the show like Angels of Death, partnered by one of the actors dressed in a Christian clergyman’s alb.
The idea that they control the keys to heaven is a bit off-putting, but then one shouldn’t necessarily demand a Jewish take on it, either.
Director Wade Lynch, a Vancouverite, has made an effort to insert some local references, but his mention of the Snowdon Deli falls flat, as does much of the show.
Music director David Terriault is at his usual level of excellence conducting the vocals and playing keyboards, along with violinist Kate Maloney and bass guitarist Evan Stewart. Marjolaine Provençal’s set that lights up like a sign on Ste. Catherine Street is probably the brightest spot all evening.