It's perfect as is, don't change a thing

"I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" is the new production at Oregon Cabaret Theatre and it is a winner. No defects. Just a great evening of song, dance, harmony and many laughs, and not a few moments of poignancy.

The play has been running off-Broadway for eleven years &

second only in longevity to the perennial, "The Fantasticks." It's been translated into many, many languages, played around the world. With book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro and music by Jimmy Roberts, "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" examines the landscape of relationships between men and women, from dating through marriage, parenthood, bereavement and starting over late in life. The key to the success of this play is that it is never patronizing, never arch, never cute. It is beautifully honest, ever hopeful and always upbeat. In short, it doesn't pretend to be Sondheim but it's a lot more interesting than Andrew Lloyd Webber.

The Cabaret production, skillfully directed by Kevin P. Hill, who did the Cabaret productions of "Tick, Tick ... Boom" and "Forever Plaid," is spare and to the point. The set is minimal &

a backdrop of lush burgundy velvet curtains, white proscenium and some tables and couches that emerge to set the scene. Above the set is a video screen that announces the "theme" of each scene, such as "The Lasagna Incident" or "I'll Call You Soon &

Yeah, Right." Hill depends on his excellent four-person cast to move the action along.

His cast is &

as with most Cabaret productions &

strong on talent and charm. Damon Calderwood, Kymberli Colbourne, Mark D. Hines and Ariela Morgenstern have incredible voices, great harmony, deft choreography. What you get are real people, in real situations &

just real people with incredible talent.

Of course, there are some standout solo numbers. Ariela Morgenstern's "I Will Be Loved Tonight" is a joyful paean to being held and hugged as well as getting laid. "Tear Jerk" by Mark D. Hines lets us see that some guys are really softies when it comes to the movies. "Always a Bridesmaid" is a joyful, wry view of the aftermath of happily-ever-after. Possibly the most beautiful is Damon Calderwood's "Shouldn't I Be Less in Love With You?"""still in love after 30 years of marriage.

But it's in the ensemble pieces that the cast gets a chance to really shine. Every scene works &

there's not a clinker in the bunch. Again, standouts are "Hey There, Single Guy/Gal" where parents weigh in on their kids' "irresponsible" single life. Or "He Called Me," when even the pizza deliverymen hope for the best. Or "I Can Live With That" &

two elderly widowers sizing up each other for the experience of dating again.

The "orchestra" here is a revelation. Piano by musical director Darcy Danielson. Violin by Crystal Reeves. That's it. It works beautifully.

Set design is by Craig Hudson. Costumes by resident designer Kerri Lea Robbins, sound design by John Taylor. As usual, Kathleen Mahoney is the stage manager. It looks very minimal but it is not &

it is hard to make everything look easy.

Note: the Cabaret has a new chef. Nathaniel Dust, who used to cook at Lela's and Amuse, has taken over the kitchen. Plates are not as adorned as Doug Todd used to put out, but the food is incredibly good. Undoubtedly, Dust will become more playful as he gets used to the Cabaret shtick of matching key menu items to the productions on stage. Nathaniel Dust is the Cabaret's new "find."

"I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" plays at the Cabaret through November 4, Thursdays through Mondays at 8 p.m. with a matinee on Sundays at — p.m. As always, pre-show dinner (or brunch) is available with appetizers and desserts served during intermission. For more information, call the Cabaret at 488-2902.

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