Published February 2nd in The News Tribune
Truthiness – if I may borrow a word from Stephen Colbert – is the heart of the musical comedy “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change,” now playing at Olympia’s Capital Playhouse.
When I reviewed the same play at Tacoma Musical Playhouse three years ago, I described it as a frothy confection appealing primarily to baby boomers, even though that was not necessarily the intended audience. But the show I saw in Olympia was nothing like that. It was a fast-paced, whacky and highly risqué look at the realities of love and marriage from first date to the poignancy of widows and widowers finding love in their twilight years.
Perhaps my memory is faulty, but I don’t recall many of the more risqué lines from that earlier production at TMP that make this production so wonderfully spicy – lines like “Condoms don’t even go with lasagna” and “Thank you for fertilizing my egg,” and others that cannot be repeated here. This production is 10 times as juicy and acted with greater fervor.
The show consists of four actors playing a multitude of characters in about 20 short episodes structured like TV sitcoms. It has often been compared to “Seinfeld,” but I think it is much better than “Seinfeld” in two significant ways: First, the universal truths it touches upon and the gender stereotypes it parodies are more genuine; and second, the characters are not so self-centered. These are lovable characters whose foibles are shared by most of us.
Each scene is a separate story with different characters. The only continuity is in the march of time. Characters meet, they suffer the indignities of first dates, they fall in love and fall into bed (not necessarily in that order), get married, have children, grow old together, suffer the loss of loved ones and find new loves. And all of these life stories are told through song. The songs, with lyrics by Joe DiPietro and music by Jimmy Roberts, are hilarious because they are so true. And a couple of them are gorgeous love songs.
One of the funniest is a “Marriage Tango,” a sultry duet by Stacie Hart and Jeremy Reynolds in which an old married couple, after the children finally fall asleep, revel in the possibility of having sex – something that, in their experience, simply does not happen when you’re married with children. And by far the most poignant is “Shouldn’t I Be Less in Love with You,” a solo by Jerod Richard Nace sung to his wife at the breakfast table while she drinks her coffee and reads the paper. In this scene, Nace is astounded to realize how much he still loves his wife after 30 years.
Other songs of note are “Always a Bridesmaid,” a solo by Hart done in country-music style, and “Scared Straight,” an absurd song by the company set in Attica prison, where a prisoner tries to scare a couple into loving each other.
The funniest nonmusical bit is a monologue by Nicole Fierstein in which she plays a divorced woman recording a video for a dating service. Nervous, she tries too hard, realizes she’s making a fool of herself but decides being honest is more important than making a good impression. (There’s that truthiness again.)
All four of the cast members are first-class. The two women especially stand out, Fierstein for her comic timing and Hart for her bell-toned operatic voice. The direction by Peter Kappler is outstanding, as is the music by Troy Arnold Fisher, keyboard, and Randal Johnson, violin.
Anyone who has ever been in love should love this show.
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through Feb. 10
WHERE: Capital Playhouse, 612 E. Fourth Ave., Olympia
INFORMATION: 360-943-2744, www.capitalplayhouse.com