Thursday, February 11, 2016

Review: I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change!

I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change!, written by Joe DiPietro and Jimmy Roberts, produced by Montgomery Theater, directed by Tom Quinn. Reviewed by Wendy Rosenfield

Review: I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change!


by Wendy Rosenfield

for the Inquirer

A few years back, Joe DiPietro and Jimmy Roberts’ I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change! and its many spores--all containing sketches and songs organized around a central theme (relationships, menopause, religion)--proliferated like an invasive species.  Thankfully, the show that launched them all, Off-Broadway’s second-longest running, closed in 2008 after 12 years. Here’s hoping Montgomery Theater’s production represents its final throes.

It’s not that there’s anything glaringly wrong with this production. Accompanied by Christopher Tolomeo on keyboard and an occasionally off-tune Hugh Bryan on violin, Jackie Washam and Megan Rucidlo as Woman #1 and #2, and Joseph Michael O’Brien and Michael Philip O’Brien, as Man #2 and #1 are competent singers and charming performers. However, their script and director Tom Quinn only allow for the broadest interpretation of pre-internet heteromance, and by “broadest interpretation,” I mean nagging mothers wearing early-‘60s-era headscarves and a male golfer wearing an honest-to-goodness Tam o’Shanter with plaid pants. 

And DiPietro and Roberts aren’t even entirely successful at staying on topic. Roberts’ tunes, which adopt every musical style at his disposal, have an irritating tendency to meander without reason far from their starting point, rarely to return. DiPietro’s book follows the heaviest-trodden male/female stereotypes, except when it gets distracted, as in the song “Waiting Trio,” during which men like watching sports (but women don’t), women like shopping (but men don’t), and also, there’s a long line for the ladies’ room.

Even Justin Couchara’s set gets it wrong, with platforms covered by black-lined, geometric Piet Mondrian-style designs filled in with tertiary, rather than primary colors. Certainly, the bluntness of pure neoplasticism makes a better fit for this unnatural melange. But as a metaphor for the whole effort, it’s honest enough. I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change! resembles human relationships only in that it is performed by human women and men. I don’t need realism, but even the most basic humor theorist acknowledges that for comedy to work, mere recognition isn’t enough; laughs require an element of surprise, and the only surprise here is that so many people have been duped for so long by this show and its ilk. 

Playing at: Montgomery Theater, 124 Main St., Souderton. Through Sunday, Apr. 28. Tickets: $34. Information: 215-723-9984 or

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About this blog

Toby Zinman's night job since 2006 is theater critic for the Inquirer where she reviews New York and London as well as Philadelphia. Her day job: Prize-winning prof at UArts, author of five books about modern and contemporary drama, and doer of scholarly deeds (winner of five NEH grants, Fulbright lecturer at Tel Aviv University, visiting professor in China). She was recently named by American Theatre magazine "one of the twelve most influential critics in America."

Wendy Rosenfield has written freelance features and theater reviews for The Inquirer since 2006. She was theater critic for the Philadelphia Weekly from 1995 to 2001, after which she enjoyed a five-year baby-raising sabbatical. She serves on the board of the American Theatre Critics Association, was a participant in the Bennington Writer's Workshop, a 2008 NEA/USC Fellow in Theater and Musical Theater, and twice was guest critic for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival's Region II National Critics Institute. She received her B.A. from Bennington College and her M.L.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. She also is a fiction writer, was proofreader to a swami, publications editor for the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and spends all her free time working out and driving people places. Follow her on Twitter @WendyRosenfield.

Jim Rutter has reviewed theater for The Inquirer since September, 2011. Since 2006, he covered dance, theater and opera for the Broad Street Review, and has also written for many suburban newspapers, including The Main Line Times. In 2009, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded him a Fellowship in Arts Journalism. Thames & Hudson released his updated and revised version of Ballet and Modern Dance in June, 2012. From 1998 to 2005, he taught philosophy and logic at Drexel, and then Widener University. He also coaches Olympic Weightlifting for Liberty Barbell, and has competed at the national level in that sport since 2001.

Merilyn Jackson regularly writes on dance for The Inquirer and other publications. She specializes in the arts, literature, food, travel, and Eastern European culture and politics. In 2001, she was dance critic in residence at the Festival of Contemporary Dance in Bytom, Poland; in 2005, she received an NEA Critics’ Fellowship to Duke University’s Institute for Dance Criticism. She likes to say that dance was her first love but that when she discovered writing she began to cheat on dance. Now that she writes about dance, she’s made an honest woman of herself, although she also writes poetry.

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