So I’m not perfect… I can change
- Joy G. Virata () - February 13, 2006 - 12:00am
Never was I so pleased to be proven wrong. I had seen the long running off-Broadway musical I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change in New York several years ago but was not entirely impressed by it. Granted the title was catchy, the music was good, it was funny, but would Filipinos relate to it? Dating? Did Filipinos date that way? Yuppy love? In my defense I had not yet been introduced to the Filipino glossies. Men versus women relationships? Did Filipinos talk about those things? Did they even concern themselves about those things? I married a dyed-in-the-wool traditional Caviteño how should I know? Should Rep do the play? Would it sell?

Now I wonder how I could have been so stupid. Either my generation gap had become as wide as all those gullies I can’t seem ever to cross on the golf course or I had had the worst jetlag in history and wasn’t focusing. Or maybe it was the skill and talents of the Rep actors (Robbie Guevara, Niccolo Manahan, Liesl Batucan and Cathy Azanza) that made me realize the universal themes that ran through the musical. Because when I sat down to watch a rehearsal at Rep, I broke into a loud guffaw after the first few lines – and I am a hard one to make laugh aloud while watching a play or movie.

Yes, today’s young Filipinos would relate to and yesterday’s not-so-young ones would identify with, and/or laugh at, mankind’s romantic foibles. Thank God artistic director Baby Barredo knows how to read a script saw what a marvelous script and catchy lyrics Joe DiPietro had written, and director Michael Williams knows how to handle that kind of material and could turn it into something so entertaining and clear in its message. I was proven wrong in my judgment. So I’m not perfect but I can change.

The first inkling I had that I was going to be proven wrong was when I told my 18-year-old granddaughter Dani we were doing the play, and just by the title alone her face lit up and she said, "Oh, I want to see that one."(She is not exactly a theater fan; she is more into horses.)

After I watched a rehearsal I realized that it was better than what even the title seemed to promise. The opening alone establishes the eternal courting game between man and woman. The succeeding vignettes, accompanied by the musical beats of the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s as written by composer Jimmy Roberts follow in one hilarious scene after another – waiting for a phone call, lamenting the lack of eligible men, trying to impress, fast-forwarding the courting protocol for yuppies, anticipating an evening, pleasing the parents, marriage, being a parent – and so on and so forth in the never-ending game of love between men and women. Many of the scenes, besides being funny, are touching as well as when a widow and a widower meet and realize that love need not be replaced, just expanded, and that life after loss can go on.

To add even more spice to the production Michael talked our cost-conscious artistic director into agreeing (after she saw the rehearsal) to invest in a projector, which will be used to provide the backdrops. And believe me that was no easy task. This was going to be both an auditory and a visual treat.

Lastly, we had finally got the timing right. So often, due to oversight, actor availability, or whatever, we would be showing a murder mystery or a heart-wrenching drama on Valentine’s Day. This time, although we would be a few days off, the season still would be right for this musical dedicated to all lovers and lover-wannabes.

I am told that Rep has had the reputation among the hard-to-pry-from-cafes-and-bar group for being "old" and "fuddy-duddy." The words "I love you, you’re perfect, now change!" could be a message to Rep’s "fuddy-duddies" – which I suppose would mean Ms. Barredo and yours truly. Well, we’re trying, we’re trying!! We know. We’re not perfect but we can change!
* * *
I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change with book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro and music by Jimmy Roberts opens on Feb. 17 at Rep’s Theater at Onstage in Greenbelt One. A production of Repertory Philippines and the City of Makati, the shows are on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3:30 pm. Tickets at P200, P300 and P500 are available at Repertory Philippines office (887-0710) and Ticketworld outlets (891-9999).

AFTER I BABY BARREDO DID FILIPINOS FRIDAYS AND SATURDAYS GREENBELT ONE I LOVE YOU JIMMY ROBERTS LIESL BATUCAN AND CATHY AZANZA MICHAEL WILLIAMS NOW CHANGE
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