The cyclical scale of love 

Theater Review | thru March 29

Ah, love. Let's face it: Most of the time, it sucks. So what to do? Make fun of it, preferably with music.
Michael Chowning, Carrie Neal, Anne Penny and Graham Brinklow on a first date in Theatre on the Square"s production of "I Love You, You"re Perfect, Now Change"

Theatre on the Square brings back I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, a musical step-by-step of dating, marriage and the ever-after.

Beginning with two couples taking the plunge into their first dates, and ending with an elderly couple hooking up at a funeral, the show is a farce about finding someone to love for the rest of your life.

The cast - comprised of Graham Brinklow, Michael Chowning, Carrie Neal and Anne Penny - has a great set of voices. They give the notes the due they deserve while letting the humor inherent in the lyrics come through. Brinklow gets the most laughs as a father accosting a toy bunny to make sure it is baby-safe and in his role as an abusive prison inmate giving a speech to a singles group, "Scared Straight to the Altar." His offence? Slaughter at a New Year's party full of happily coupled people ("I blasted their married asses straight to hell!").

It's not all bitter comedy. There are some melancholy moments, such as Penny's monologue in "The Very First Dating Video of Rose Ritz," about a woman starting again after her longtime husband walked out on her. There are also those moments that make you go, "Awwww," like Brinklow's "Shouldn't I Be Less in Love with You," which reflects on a couple's years of marriage. And moments of hope, like Neal's "I Will Be Loved Tonight" - in which a woman looks forward to her first embrace with a new man. The songs are quick, clever and oh so true.

Act 1 is devoted to the singles scene, while Act 2 covers marriage, kids and divorce, so no matter where you are on the cyclical scale of love, you will have something to relate to. It's great to see TOTS using live musicians. Paul Galloway on piano and Laura BarcelÛ on violin sound soooo much better than canned music.

But the stage Ö The white-painted floor was a dingy mess, and the white screen background did nothing to enhance the onstage action. Something a little homier would have been nice. In addition, a choreographer could have added something to the more static songs. And while "On the Highway of Love," with a family of four in a "car" of rolling chairs, was cute, when the chairs split and went gliding every which way, the lyrics got jumbled.

I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, directed by Ron Spencer with assistance from Doug Johnson and Lisa Paff-Johnson, continues through March 29; call 637-8085 for tickets and information.

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