The Ames Community Theater (ACTORS) wrapped up its first week of performances for the hit musical “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.” Despite football games and cold weather that could have served as factors for decreased attendance, the small playhouse filled seats and pleased theater-goers with laughter, tears and more laughter.
“I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” is a musical without a traditional story arc. However, they use a series of vignettes and short scenes to create a story about love at all ages. Audience members get a glimpse at each stage of love — and a lack thereof — from the first date to marriage, divorce and even finding love again. Even though the scenes feature the actors playing different characters, it creates the effect of a coherent timeline.
The musical covered a multitude of concepts that covered the gamut from relatable, everyday occurrences, to unique or even controversial situations. The overarching theme expressed how love sometimes may seem impossible or burdensome, but it’s important to keep trying. Seeing so many of the common struggles portrayed onstage made the theme relaxing to watch and created a sense of camaraderie between the audience members.
Another important message demonstrated the abundance of stereotypes within dating, especially masculinity and femininity. Men are often forced to appear tough, rugged and sex-hungry, while women are meek and reserved. There are several scenes in “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” that change that narrative. In the scene “Tear Jerk,” a couple is watching a romantic comedy movie and the man gets teary-eyed while stubbornly denying his emotions. Eventually, his female counterpart helps him to see that emotions aren’t inherently bad. This concept of gender stereotypes is also addressed in “A Stud and a Babe,” where a first date goes wrong when two people try to be someone they are not.
Along the same lines, the production also investigates the concept of a “perfect guy.” How many faults should one compromise with? Should one wait to find the “perfect guy?” Does a “perfect guy” even exist? While the audience never gets a concrete answer, some very interesting questions are examined with the help of a prison inmate and a few wedding officiants.
There are a few emotional scenes in this musical — some are heartbreaking, while others caused audience members to believe in love again. “I Can Live With That” tells the story of an elderly widow and widower meeting each other at yet another funeral. Over the course of their conversation, they address the faults in their health and the reasons why they won’t be a good match, yet eventually decide to give love a second chance. Many happy tears were shed at the culmination of this moving scene.
In contrast to their sentimental attributes, this production also had audience members in hysterics. One such scene was titled “A Picture of His,” which portrayed how certain men tend to send unflattering pictures of their anatomy to their significant others. The creative use of flashlights, a screen and swords helped to create hilarious imagery with a shadowbox effect that kept the audience howling. The scene poked fun at the men photographers in the world and the responses of their female counterparts.
One of the most impressive things throughout the entire show was the fact that the actors were not wearing microphones, yet were still loud and comprehendible. Many community theaters resort to sound amplification for their actors, but the authenticity of the play can suffer because of it. Throughout the entire performance, only a few lines were lost. This kind of production is rare and extremely valuable.
ACTORS has one more weekend of performances left for this fantastic production of “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.” Shows will be at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 22 and 23, with a 2 p.m. matinee Nov. 24. Tickets are $20. The next ACTORS production will be “Ken Ludwig's Leading Ladies” the first two weekends in February.