IF YOU GO
What: Joe DiPietro musical about mating, dating, relating
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday
Where: Daniels Pavilion, 5833 Pelican Bay Boulevard, Naples
Information: 800-597-1900 or thephil.org
Something Else: The show is completely sold out, but last-minute tickets are sometimes available at the Philharmonic box office because of cancellations or no-shows. Call 597-1900, or e-mail email@example.com
On the Web: loveperfectchange.com
On the Web: Sign up to receive more theater news from the Stage Door blog via email.
WANT MORE JOE DIPIETRO?
The national tour of "All Shook Up," a jukebox musical using the tunes of Elvis Presley, plays at Barbara B. Mann for a one-night-only show at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 2. Tickets are $20 - $60. Call (239) 481-4849 or order online at bbmannpah.com.
"The Art of Murder," a comic murder mystery, runs February 2-26 at the Sugden Community Theatre in Naples. Performances are 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $25; call 263-7990 or go to naplesplayers.org.
WHAT DID YOU THINK?
Did you see this show? What did you think? Leave a comment below or e-mail your thoughts on "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your review might wind up in print or on naplesnews.com.
NAPLES — Everybody needs somebody to love. Mating. Dating. Relating. Procreating. Add two men, two women, a piano player and a few props, toss in some catchy tunes and you've got a musical - the fetching, if featherweight "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change," playing sold-out shows through Thursday at the Naples Philharmonic.
"I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change," written by Joe DiPietro with music by Jimmy Roberts, closed Off-Broadway in 2008. It ran for 12 years and more than 5,000 performances, ranking behind only "The Fantasticks" for longevity.
The show comes packaged as a series of vignettes woven together by themes of love and relationships. There's a loose arc - from dating to marriage to family to old age - but the scenes mostly stand alone.
The genius of DiPietro's work lies in the fact that he can spin sitcom cliches - bad dates, single bridesmaids, exhausted parents - into sung gold. Lesser competitors like "Are We There Yet?" and "Married Alive" tried - and failed - to capture the magic; much of the show's considerable charm comes from his witty wordplay. Example: "Always a bridesmaid, never a bride / For Tabitha, I wore taffeta / You should never, people laugh at ya / But I had a hunch her marriage was doomed."
Although DiPietro has a way with words, the best numbers are those with a recognizable musical heritage. Doo-wop elements add hilarious undertones to "Hey There, Single Guy/Gal," where parents lament an unmarried son; spicy Latin tones infuse the "Marriage Tango," with tired-but-frisky parents. Elsewhere, the clever lyrics make for a fun evening - but ultimately feel a teensy bit bland, like Justin Bieber in a Stephen Sondheim world.
A top-notch cast (Karyn Quackenbush, Joe Ricci, Jim Stanek & Amy White) proves adept at delivering the vocals and the comedy. The quartet whips through an amazing variety of characters in two hours - from harried singles to baby-obsessed parents to shambling oldsters.
If possible, the comic interludes - like an advertisement for bedroom contracts ("If you don't get off, we get you money!" - surpass the musical segments. A singles seminar set at Sing-Sing Prison closes the first half - and might be the night's comic hight point, complete with Stanek as an orange jumpsuit-clad prisoner delivering some sage relationship advice.
Taken as a whole, it's easy to see why the show ran for 12 years; it's funny, there's not real plot to follow, the themes are near universal and the segments whip by at a breakneck page. No boredom here. "I Love You..." would have been - forgive me me here, the "perfect" - show for theater-goers looking to check out for a few hours, laugh, giggle and forget their cares.
And that's exactly what happens. It's pleasant, the show offers plenty of laughs, the superb professional cast sparkles in voice and talent - but the evening has all the depth of a puddle. The show might send audiences out into the night with a smile - but it's one that will be forgotten by the time they slide into the booth at Chop's, Fleming's or the Capital Grille directly after the show.
Still, anyone who's ever had or wanted a partner will identify with the themes of the show. The brilliant, clever lyrics make rhymes you'd never think possible - and the cast whips through quick-change after quick-change with chameleon-like speed. You'll fall in love, you'll think it's perfect and you won't want it to change.
I'm single. I'm not perfect. And I'm not changing. E-mail me, email@example.com, find me on Twitter at @napleschris or read my Stage Door theater blog. You can also sign up to receive the Stage Door blog via email.