'I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change'

Men are from Mars. Women are from Venus. Perhaps that explains the frustrating, fascinating and funny challenges of contemporary male-female relationships.

Oregon Cabaret Theatre in Ashland will be venturing into that world when it stages "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change."

The show opens Friday, Sept. 14. It plays at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Mondays and — p.m. Sundays through Nov. 4. Previews are 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 12-13.

"I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" is a revue of songs and sketches related to the theme. For director Kevin P. Hill, the theme is "connecting with someone."

Hill previously directed "Forever Plaid" and "tick, tick"&

166;BOOM!" for the cabaret. The process of connecting with someone includes waiting, dating, mating and relating. And since it involves the perennial battle of the sexes, the show comes at the theme from two very different perspectives. Ultimately, Hill says, "You don't want to be alone and so you keep trying to get back into the game."

Or as the last song says, "I Keep Coming Back."

And that song has wonderful four-part choral singing, says Darcy Danielson, who provides musical direction for the show and as keyboardist is one half of the band. Crystal Reeves plays the violin. The show was created for these two instruments.

"We've never had that combination, piano and violin," says OCT Artistic Director Jim Giancarlo. "The string sound really works great in our space. It adds a lot of richness."

Danielson agrees. "It's sweet and lends emotion."

Now in its second decade off-Broadway and with scores of productions all over the world (including China, Argentina — — and the Czech Republic), "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" proves that these inter-gender conundrums seem to be both universally compelling and universally amusing.

The show begins &

as relations do &

with the process of dating. There are numbers such as "Cantata for a First Date," "A Stud and a Babe," "Single Man Drought," "Why? Cause I'm a Guy," and "I Will Be Loved Tonight." Post-dating relationships careen into marriage with "Marriage Tango," and "Always a Bridesmaid." From being newly married, the show moves into having children and domestic life: living with the enemy. There's "The Baby Song," "On the Highway of Love" and "Shouldn't I Be Less in Love with You?" And just when you think you've left all the mating dances behind, you keep coming back in your "golden years," starting the dating process again in "I Can Live with That."

The evening is full of wry wisdom, poignancy and the laughter of recognition. Hill, who is a choreographer as well as a director, wanted the challenge of something small that didn't have a lot of dancing in it so he could take time with the acting. But he couldn't resist some movement on stage. "There's a whole number with a car," Hill says with a smile. "We drive a car around the stage."

The cast is Damon Calderwood, Kymberli Colbourne, Mark Hines and Ariela Morgenstern. Colbourne has previously appeared at the cabaret in "Side By Side By Sondheim." Hines was seen in "The Bachelors." Morgenstern and Calderwood are making their OCT debuts.

Set and lighting design is by Craig Hudson and costume design is by Kerri Lea Robbins. Kathleen Mahoney is the stage manager.

The show is rated PG-13 for language and content.

Gourmet dining and brunch are available with advance reservations. Appetizers, desserts and beverages are also available without reservations.

Tickets are $19-$29. See , or call 488-2902 after 11 a.m.

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