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REVIEW: Dating, love, and sex take center stage in REP’s “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change”

By Mikhail Lecaros Published Jun 19, 2024 5:55 pm

In the entirety of theater, there’s been no shortage of productions tackling dating, love, and sex, but only a few have been as unabashedly frank (and hilarious) in their observations as Joe DiPietro’s I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. Staged by Repertory Philippines as part of its 87th season, the acclaimed musical revue celebrated its opening night last Friday with a rapturous reception.

Whether one is amused or offended by the show’s notion that love is about finding one’s perfect match (and then spending the rest of your life trying to change them), anyone who’s ever been in a relationship will find something to latch on to here.

Set to a cadre of catchy tunes by Jimmy Roberts (Welcome to the Big Dipper), and directed by musical theater mainstay Menchu Lauchenco-Yulo (West Side Story), I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change is an out-and-out delight from beginning to end. 

The cast is comprised entirely of Gabby Padilla (Matilda), Krystal Kane (Spring Awakening), Marvin Ong (Mga Kwento Ni Lola Basyang), and Gian Magdangal (Carousel), with each actor assuming multiple roles in vignettes that take knowing digs at the many stages of human relationships. Frequently hilarious, sometimes tender, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change leaves no stone unturned while shining an all-too-relatable light on love’s highs and lows. 

Song titles like Single Man Drought and Marriage Tango reflect the production’s overall light-heartedness, while Roberts’ deft compositions let the cast showcase their pipes across a variety of genres. The comedic timing here is nearly flawless, whether in the solo numbers—exemplified by Magdangal’s side-splitting take on Scared Straight—or ensemble pieces like Single Man Drought bemoaning the awkwardness of first dates. 

A minimalist stage design is brought to life with cutting-edge graphic projections and live video feeds, lending a high-tech polish to the proceedings. GA Fallarme (Ang Huling El Bimbo), the digital enhancements bestow 21st-century veracity to Gabby Padilla’s darkly comic monologue, “The Very First Dating Video of Rose Ritz”, which deals with the aftermath of an unfaithful spouse. 

The choreography, by Stephen Viñas (Tabing Ilog The Musical), is endlessly playful, maximizing the production design without distracting from the scenes in question.

Ultimately, I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change succeeds on the strength of its performers, with the minimalist approach to country music, Always a Bridesmaid allowing Krystal Kane’s exuberant vocals to shine. The same can be said for the low-key—yet no less emotional—ode to married life, “Shouldn’t I be Less in Love with You” performed by Marvin Ong. 

Chock full of spot-on insights and mile-a-minute punchlines delivered by a cast and crew at the top of their respective crafts,  I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change makes for an entertaining night of musical theater that will have audiences howling. There’s a reason this play became the second-longest running off-Broadway show in history and now, thanks to REP, local audiences can see it for themselves in this spirited, gleefully irreverent take on the games that men and women play.

What’s not to love? 

I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change runs from June 14 to July 6 at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium in RCBC Plaza. Tickets are available at the box office or at Ticket World.