The stages of the relationship between a man and a woman are excellent fodder for both comedy and tragedy. Looking for love, meeting, dating, sex, marriage, children, old age — these are universal experiences mined to perfection and dissected with wise humor in the hilarious musical sketch comedy, “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change,” the current offering at North Fork Community Theatre in Mattituck.
The play, with book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro and music by Jimmy Roberts, opened off Broadway at the Westside Theatre in 1996 with a cast of four. With more than 5,000 performances, it enjoys the distinction of being the second-longest-running off Broadway production (second only to “The Fantastiks”). With themes this universal, it has been translated into more than 14 languages, including Hebrew, Slavic, Finnish, Japanese and Mandarin, and has played in even more countries around the world.
Manning Dandridge, Nancy Di-Giralomo, Laura Jones, Janice McKenna, Peter Nolan and Tony Peraza play various characters throughout the show in sketches that highlight experiences we can all relate to. While the characters in each vignette are not connected, the sketches reveal the progression of the various stages of romance, from first date to long-term marriage.
Some highlights include “Single Man Drought,” performed by Ms. DiGiralomo and Ms. McKenna, who admit to us, as they nod and smile at their dates, “I’m lying.” In “Tear Jerk,” we feel Mr. Dandridge’s pain as he shares how he ended up at a romantic movie with his date. He longs for a manly action flick, even as he gets swept along emotionally against his will.
Ms. Jones and Mr. Dandridge display excellent comedic chops in “Hey There, Single Gal/Guy” as they berate their son and his girlfriend after learning the two are breaking up.
Ms. McKenna provides a poignant moment with the beautifully sung “I Will Be Loved Tonight,” after she invites her new beau for dinner for the first time.
One clever sketch explores what sex would be like if we could sue our partners in the event they fail to satisfy us, and “Wedding Vows” provides a disturbing glimpse into what the future may hold for the newlyweds.
Ms. McKenna shines again as she sings “Always a Bridesmaid” with an ending that might surprise. The local stage veteran shows how experience-honed timing can make or break a song. She nearly brought the house down with this one.
The clever staging designed by first-time director John Hudson was particularly effective in “The Family That Drives Together.” Who among us has not argued with our partner at least once about how he or she drives?
While several of the cast members were not what one would consider great singers, they managed to create each character fully — no small feat in a revue. Some songs were nearly spoken, but this lent a note of refreshing authenticity. I suspect director Hudson had a lot to do with that, guiding his actors to go for truth rather than pitch perfect. It is a credit to him, as well as his cast, that they were all so deeply committed.
The music, overseen by musical director Stephen Gamboa, was provided by piano and violin. The two worked in perfect unison with the cast, as well as providing a sublime underscore to much of the action.
Ms. Jones did double duty as assistant director, Mary Motto Kalich was producer and Sherry Powers was assistant producer. This team, along with Mr. Hudson, assembled a fine cast and crew to bring this very funny play to life for us. Lori Connolly, as costume designer, came up with clever and appropriate costumes that served well the many quick changes necessary in this kind of sketch comedy. Lighting design by Charlie and David Scheer helped set the tone for each vignette without being heavy-handed.
“I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” runs through Nov. 17, so you have time to head on over to North Fork Community Theatre with your significant other, hold hands and enjoy an evening of laughing at yourselves.