The Eldorado’s I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change bets it all on love and comes up short
When critiquing a play it can be difficult to separate the content of the play from its overall production value. I often dismiss a show solely on the grounds of weak plot, tired jokes or uninspired characters. I would have done this with the Eldorado’s production of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change if I hadn’t gone with someone who encouraged me to look at the play from another perspective, namely, the casino perspective.
The question became whether or not I should judge casino shows differently than shows produced by local theater companies. My theater date coerced me into saying yes. Local theater companies aren’t dealing with the same funds casino shows receive. Thus, we often expect a little and end up getting a lot. Also, local theaters usually choose plays with character-driven plots. They have to make us care about the people on stage so we stay through the second act.
Casino shows are usually shorter and lacking an intermission, meaning they don’t give us the chance to leave. With dance numbers and poppy songs, they distract us with their glitter before we realize what’s going on. We anticipate being astounded by the glamour, only to be left feeling unfulfilled and empty, or perhaps filled, but only with the shallow, fleeting satisfaction akin to beating a kid at basketball.
I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change has no plot, but then again, it’s not intended to have one. It’s a musical revue full of songs sung by a multiplicity of characters (played by four actors—David Engel, Larry Raben, Kathy St. George and Amy White). Nothing links the scenes or songs except that each involves men and women singing about the quest for a soul mate. Whether it’s a first date, a fifth date, meeting the parents, getting married or rediscovering love close to senility, the play is about the toughness of finding and holding onto love.
Just by looking at the titles of such songs as “Single Man Drought” or “Why? ‘Cause I’m a Guy,” it’s clear the play is not doing anything new. Many of the jokes were the same ones I had heard in the Eldorado’s December show, Robert Dubac’s The Male Intellect: An Oxymoron? But even Dubac’s one-man comedy routine had more wit and plot and got closer to the root of gender differences than I Love You, which just skipped across the theatrical surface like a rock on water, ending with a plop and a sink.
Engel and St. George are both skilled performers and singers, and they actually made some of their songs interesting, even when the lyrics were not. St. George sang “Always a Bridesmaid” in a hideous pink dress, exaggerating the semi-funny lines so that they actually garnered some hearty laughs. Raben and White, however, weren’t anything to marvel at. In fact, several times White’s voice was noticeably off-key.
Overall, the jokes were there, but they were hackneyed. The songs were catchy, but became annoying about a minute in. The set was admittedly fun in a ‘60s mod sort of way. I Love You was good for a casino show, but only fair by local theater company standards. It might be acceptable for an average and bland Valentine’s date, but you’ll probably get more bang for your buck if you sit at home and watch good old-fashioned love stories like Harold and Maude or my personal favorite, Annie Hall.