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[whitespace] 'I Love You'
Photograph by Marty Sohn

Couples Therapy: Mark Hefti (left), Erica Wyman, Travis Poelle and Megan Ross sing about love's travails.

Rhyme of Their Loves

Modern love gets worked over in witty lyrics in 'I Love You' at San Pedro Square

By Michael J. Vaughn

ONE OF THE TOUGHEST tricks in the book is to take old jokes and make them breathe. All the more surprise that the Theater on San Pedro Square's new musical review, I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, is just as wickedly funny as its title.

On the surface, you've heard all these gags before: men being dragged to weepy chick-flicks, young parents who have no time for sex, the horrible predictability of first dates. But time and again, writer Joe DiPietro, composer Jimmy Roberts and San Pedro's ideal quartet of comic singers conspire to throw in just the right twist and keep us safely off the cliché train.

A fine example is "He Called Me," in which Megan Ross is shocked when the new guy who said he would call her ... actually does! It's an old gag (and completely true, I'll confess for males everywhere), but here it's taken to inspired extremes. When "Ken" calls a second time, "just to say hi," Megan exults, "He's needy!" and her mother and two pizza delivery boys arrive to conduct an Oscar-style awards ceremony.

DiPietro and Roberts maintain a delicious cynicism throughout. In "Always a Bride," for instance, when Erica Wyman complains of the grotesque bridesmaid gowns that fill her closet ("Every bride has me dressed/in a gown I detest"), you expect the number to become a depressing old-maid's lament, but it turns out that Erica is actually quite relieved that she didn't end up marrying the complete schmucks all her friends are now stuck with. The number also shows off DiPietro's flair for the artful Gilbert & Sullivan rhyme: "satin" rhymed with "looking fat in," for instance, or the inspired trio of "Tabitha," "taffeta" and "laughed at ya."

Roberts' score is pretty standard Broadway fare, but his orchestration for piano and solo violin definitely isn't. He even provides virtuosic passages in his Act 2 interlude, delivered with admirable fire by fiddler/musical director Don Dally and pianist John Conway, who adds to the fun by sneaking in a quote from "Bennie and the Jets."

Where director Gary A. De Mattei and company really deliver the goods, however, is in their physical humor. Highlights include Travis Poelle as the father of a newborn, safety-checking a Teddy Bear present by trying to chew its eyes off, and Mark Hefti, raising geek humor to a new level with his Don Knotts-like macho man in "A Stud and a Babe" ("I'm not athletic/my clothes are synthetic"). The ultimate however, is the way the quartet uses rolling office chairs to mimic the family car in "On the Highway of Love."

So come hear the old jokes in new clothes--and see why this artful review ran four years straight in New York. It might make you feel better about your love life; it might make you feel worse. Either way, though, the theater has a full bar, and you can have a beer during the show--a divine experience if ever there was one.

I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change plays Tuesday-Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 2 and 7:30pm through Nov. 12 at 29 N. San Pedro Street, San Jose. Tickets are $20-$30. (408/283-0200 or www.tosps.com)

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From the November 2-8, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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