Theatre enthusiasts are in for real treat in from Ames Community Theater (ACTORS). The second longest running off-Broadway musical, “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change,” will be showcased in Ames this November.
“I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change,” is a musical comedy that brings attention to love in all of its forms — be it dating, marriage or the dreaded mother-in-law. This show is unique by not having an overarching storyline, opting instead for quick takes of many different couples.
“[‘I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change’] is a series of vignettes," said Veronica Skaar, director of the production. "It’s just small snippets of relationships, anywhere from the first date to a scene at a funeral where a couple is being introduced. It’s fun. It’s touching."
This musical was originally written back in 1996, however, with the invention of modern dating apps and websites, the writer, Joe DiPietro, and composer, Jimmy Roberts, decided to revamp the script in 2018. Two new songs were added, as well as updated lyrics throughout. ACTORS will be using the 2018 edition.
“This script was actually updated last year, so it is very modern,” Skaar said. “We don’t do changes to the script. This one did especially say to make it local, so we did switch out some local references that people will really appreciate if they catch them.”
“I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” was written with the hope that everyone would find at least one scene to identify with or reflect upon with their own experiences.
Clayton Johnson is an engineering academic advisor at Iowa State, but in his spare time, he is a frequent actor and choreographer for ACTORS. Johnson finds that the small differences in people and cultures can impact the actors.
“I think it’s really helped me to kind of analyze my own relationships and that kind of dynamic," Johnson said. "You know a lot of times we don’t really take the time to think about the people we interact with and our significant others or our close friends. So, with the ways this show is structured, [...] some of the couples get along, some of them don’t. There are loves. There are fights. There are breakups. It really shines a light on your own personal relationships that you’ve had over the years. I think that’s what it’s done for me, is help me reflect on my past.”
Other scenes can be enjoyed for much simpler reasons, however.
“I enjoy the ‘Highway of Love’ because it is a very true story about a man and his car and his wife trying to get him to focus on driving safely,” Skaar said. “We have a special twist on that scene too. If anyone’s seen this show before, it will look different this time.”
Because each scene features a different couple, “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” can be performed with a cast of four individuals. ACTORS decided to cast a slighter larger troupe of eight instead.
“This cast is really great," Skarr said. "They’re all so insanely talented. They work on their own, they work with each other outside of rehearsal. They come here ready to go and really bring it every rehearsal.”
The size of the company can open the stage up for a lot of new ideas and creativity. Grant Braun, the assistant director, works closely with Skaar to solve problems and improve the show.
“[Skaar and I are] always sounding each other's ideas or [Skaar comes] up with weird suggestions for different things and I’m like, ‘No…okay, let’s do it!’ It’s good to bounce ideas off each other," Braun said.
A small cast has presented challenges within production. No matter how much experience a performer has, it is possible for an error to be made. When only a few actors are in a scene, it is important to work together.
Nicole Galliart has been in many productions, but will be making her Ames debut with this show. She notes that this musical is slightly different than the others she has worked on.
“You really have to know your part and your role," Galliart said. "A lot of times it’s you and one other person on stage, and if you mess up, there’s really nobody to help cover for you. Singing in the songs too, if it’s the whole group, it’s you and one other person that is singing their part. So if you mess up the words or sing the wrong note, it’s going to really stick out.”
In the end, there are notable occurrences within the cast and crew itself that draw parallels to life beyond the dating world. While romance certainly is a theme of the show, the creation of relationships can be seen in many different venues.
“Most of us didn’t really know or each other — or know each other at all — before we were cast in the show," Galliart said. "That in itself is a little like dating. The first few nights it was kind of a little bit awkward, like, ‘What do I talk about? Do I share? Do I not share?’ Working together, we’ve gotten to know each other a bit more and are a little more comfortable. That’s a little bit how the show progresses too, with all the nervousness in the beginning and then you get a little bit more familiar with each other — the characters do. That’s kind of the same story arc that we are doing as actors actually participating in the process.”
The biggest value of most community theaters is actually the community, and with ACTORS, it is no different. In fact, many of the volunteers behind the scenes and on-stage are Iowa State alumni.
Iowa State is a very large part of the community of Ames. Many citizens in Ames are continually working on how to combine the two demographics to better become one inclusive culture.
“Iowa State and students at Iowa State are a part of this community,” Johnson said. “Iowa State students are always welcome to come out here, and of course staff and faculty as well. Participate and get involved. This is truly an open community theater for anyone in the community. This one, and communities around here as well.”
“I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” will be live Thursday through Saturday and Nov. 22 through 24. All performances will be at 7:30 p.m. except for the Nov. 24 performance, which will be at 2 p.m. All shows will be presented at Ames Community Theater. Each ticket will be $20, regardless of age. However, there will be adult humor, themes and language, so use discretion when bringing children.