Joy Beth DeWitt-Riley, Emily Vergason, Holly Smelson, & Rae Hester in I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. Photo: Hayswood theatre

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change

Book and Lyrics by Joe Dipietro
Music by Jimmy Roberts
Directed by Kimberly Rose Roeten 

A review by Tory Parker 

Entire contents are copyright © 2024 by Tory Parker. All rights reserved.

“If you met your partner on a dating app two years ago, you caught the last chopper out of ‘Nam.” – Keara Sullivan, TikTok (2024)

I think about the quote above a lot. I’m not a very app-forward person, but my short endeavors there have been about as fruitful as fly fishing in the desert—a sentiment I know I share with pretty much all my single friends. There are layers of complicated reasons for this (none of which have to do with me or my amazing friends and all of which have to do with capitalism, I’m sure) but watching I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, (ILYYPNC) knowing it originally came out in the mid-90s, at least comforted me in that this has always sucked, just in different ways. 

Told through a series of short vignettes, ILYYPNC has all the delight of sitting around and hearing stories about your friends’ love lives—some sweet, some maddening, many absurd. It’s a perfect musical for people who might not like musicals or for people who have a hard time paying attention to long (and long-winded) productions. You don’t like that character? No problem! We’re only with them for about 10 minutes. This song doesn’t do it for you? Don’t worry about it, it’s nearly over! 

Now, I’ve not had the chance to see something out at Hayswood Theatre before, but from what I can tell, the content in this show is a little more PG-13 than some of their usual fare. The word “sex,” for example, is not only used many, MANY times but it’s also used about *gasp* queer couples. And, not to spoil anything, but the *reveal* at the very top of the show is quite revealing! But while some of it made the audience squirm, by and large, they were pretty good sports, if a little too quiet for my taste. 

But if you’re NOT too chicken to show feeling at a live performance, then I can guarantee this production will make you laugh out loud. The songs are catchy and pithy, the dialogue is sharp and campy, and every single performer is bringing exactly what they need to bring. 

Originally written for four performers, director Kimberly Rose Roeten reimagined the show with a cast of ten, to “allow for more variety as well as a beautiful choral sound for group numbers.” With permission, she also adapted some of the scenes to incorporate same-sex relationships and gender-inclusive pronouns. Honestly, I thought the scenes made queer were strange choices. The problems facing the sapphic couples in the play (lack of sexual satisfaction and poor communication) are umm… not exactly what we’re known for—but I love including the larger cast, showing a wide range of people falling in and love kept the energy high and gave so many talented performers a chance to shine in different ways. 

While I genuinely enjoyed every single scene in the show, there were a few that spoke to me. We started strong with “Single Man Drought” (remember, “last chopper out of ‘Nam” is not a new phenomenon). I’m always a sucker for an all-women ensemble moment. There’s some incredible chair-ography in “On The Highway of Love” that I thought was so innovative and added to the charm of an already crowd-pleasing number. My personal favorite, “Always a Bridesmaid” is a country-tavern-style ode to those of us who revel in independent life, and was just exceptionally performed by Ari Hart and Holly Smelson. Rounding out the vignettes is the heart-achingly sweet “I Can Live With That,” capturing the peaceful companionship about a later-in-life second chance at love, in which Mike Bittenbender as Arthur gave one of the loveliest, dropped-in performances of the show. 

Ensemble members Joy Beth DeWitt-Riley, Greg Collier, and Emily Vergason have the emotionally heavier moments of the show, and the earnestness is lovely. DeWitt-Riley’s hope and excitement at a date that’s going well makes you think that maybe all this IS worth it. Collier’s quiet realization of love for his long-time wife hit so directly to this crowd that it got the couple in front of me to share a sweet embrace. Vergason, who has a Dating Video monologue about a painful divorce, has the challenge of the night in its delivery and handles it beautifully. It was a nice foil to what can be a delightfully silly show! 

But if you’re just in it for the laughs, you’re not going to be disappointed. Jesse Brown’s comedic timing throughout the entire show is just god-tier, and I knew from his first entrance that anytime he was one stage I was going to crack up. Will Weatherby and Gabe Petri both play a series of “younger” boyfriends and husbands and while the “douchey” trap is an easy one to fall into when trying to be the funny straight guy, they never do. Rae Hester, playing a range of ages and relationships, is a complete joy. I absolutely bought her as everything from an exasperated mother to an anxious nerd! 

This show is infinitely more enjoyable with a big crowd. So how about you GO and MAKE it a big crowd?? Musicians Paul Stiller and Griffin Cobb are doing all they can to keep the house rocking, but it would be easier with you there. Corydon is charming, and just a delightful hop-skip on 64W! The performers are ready to make it worth your while. Satisfaction, of all kinds, is guaranteed. *wink*

Featuring Mike Bittenbender, Jesse Brown, Greg Collier, Joy Beth DeWitt-Riley, Ari Hart, Rae Hester, Gabe Petri, Holly Smelson, Emily Vergason, & Will Weathersby

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change

June 6 – 16, 2024

Hayswood Theatre 
115 S Capitol Avenue
Corydon, IN 47112

Tory Parker, originally from West Virginia, is now a proud Kentuckian as well. In Louisville, she’s worked and/or performed with Actors Theatre of Louisville, Claddagh Theatre Company, the Chamber Theatre, Bellarmine University, Wayward Actors Company, Derby City Playwrights, Company OutCast, SHOTZ, Highview Arts Center, and director Emily Grimany. She is a co-founding artist of the queer theatre collaborative, three witches shakespeare, and of Untitled Louisville Theatre Company. As a playwright, her full-length drama, Recommended for You, appears in Stage It and Stream It: Plays for Virtual Theatre, and her original works have appeared in the National Women’s Theatre Festival Fringe Festival and Quick Quills Play Festival at Highview Arts Center.