Tribute to love: Oil Lamp delivers affectionate, intimate 'I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change'

  • Glenview's Oil Lamp Theater stages its first musical, "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change," starring Adrian Thornburg, left, Sarah Obert, Jeffrey Charles and Marina Magnelli.

    Glenview's Oil Lamp Theater stages its first musical, "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change," starring Adrian Thornburg, left, Sarah Obert, Jeffrey Charles and Marina Magnelli. Courtesy of Oil Lamp Theater

 
 
Updated 6/13/2023 5:56 PM

"I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" -- ★ ★ ★

Oil Lamp Theater chose well in selecting as its first musical "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change," the breezy, gently optimistic revue from 1996 that chronicles romantic relationships from first dates to final farewells.

 

With its small cast and minimalist set, "I Love You ... Now Change" is an intimate show well-suited to the cozy, 60-seat Glenview theater's postage stamp-style stage. This show, last revived in suburban Chicago five years ago if I recall correctly, is ideal for spring: affectionate, not too saccharine, but with a hint of pathos and a generous dose of humor.

After a yearslong off-Broadway run, the show by writer/lyricist Joe DiPietro and composer Jimmy Roberts premiered locally at Marriott Theatre in 1998. A subsequent production at Chicago's Royal George Theatre ran about 3 years and was followed by productions at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, the defunct Fox Valley Repertory, Marriott Theatre (in 2013) and most recently at Steel Beam Theatre in St. Charles.

Adrian Thornburg and Marina Magnelli play widowed seniors who take tentative steps toward romance in Oil Lamp Theater's "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change."
Adrian Thornburg and Marina Magnelli play widowed seniors who take tentative steps toward romance in Oil Lamp Theater's "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change." - Courtesy of Oil Lamp Theater

Now comes Oil Lamp, whose buoyant production is directed by Jay Pastucha and features a robust quartet featuring Sarah Obert, Marina Magnelli, Adrian Thornburg and Jeffry Charles. Strong singers all, they're accompanied by music director/pianist Jake Hartge, who is literally in a separate room, that's how small the space is.

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As it turns out, good things do come in small packages.

Set to a mostly pop-music score (injected with country and doo-wop), with book updated to include same-sex couples, Netflix and "Frozen," among other contemporary references, "I Love You ... Now Change" centers on dating in the first act.

Magnelli and Obert bemoan the "Single Man Drought," while Charles and Thornburg make excuses for bad behavior in "Why? 'Cause I'm a Guy." In each, the performances temper the musty stereotypes that animate the tunes. In "Hey There Single Gal/Guy," parents (played by Obert and Charles) encourage their man-child son and his career-focused girlfriend to commit to each other. That sentiment is amplified in "Scared Straight (to the Altar)," where a sneering convict (Charles) advises skittish singletons Obert and Thornburg to give up their search for Mr./Ms. Right.

"They're not coming," he says. "You gotta compromise."

Sarah Obert, left, and Marina Magnelli sing about the "Single Man Drought" in Oil Lamp Theater's revival of the relationship revue "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change."
Sarah Obert, left, and Marina Magnelli sing about the "Single Man Drought" in Oil Lamp Theater's revival of the relationship revue "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change." - Courtesy of Oil Lamp Theater

In the second act, which concerns marriage and its aftermath, Magnelli's perpetual wedding attendant confides in the witty "Always a Bridesmaid" that her "friends can't assess a man or a dress," then concludes -- without regret -- that while she lives life alone, "the terms are my own."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

A trio of tunes about parenthood -- a couple with a newborn, another whose domestic duties allow no time for sex, and a cleverly staged family road trip -- elicited some of the show's biggest laughs.

The most poignant moments occur late in the second act when Thornburg's long-married husband reflects on his enduring love for his wife in the tender "Shouldn't I be Less in Love With You?"

Obert, who sang about an anticipated sexual encounter with her new love in the first act, has a poignant moment in the second as Rose Ritz, a middle-aged divorcee dating online for the first time.

In the wistful "I Can Live With That," Magnelli and Charles play widowed seniors who meet at a wake and take the first tentative steps toward a late-in-life romance, which concludes with a soft-shoe dance break that elicited an appreciative "aww" from the woman sitting next to me.

Ultimately, the point of this tuner is best expressed in the finale, where the endlessly hopeful characters who -- despite disappointment and failure -- continue their pursuit of love, that which makes life worth living.

• • •

Location: Oil Lamp Theater, 1723 Glenview Road, Glenview, (847) 834-0738, oillamptheater.org

Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday through July 2

Running time: About 2 hours, with intermission

Tickets: $28, $45

Parking: Street parking available

Rating: For adults, includes mature language and subject matter, sexual situations

COVID-19 precautions: Masks optional

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