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I LOVE YOU, YOU'RE PERFECT, NOW CHANGE

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This lighthearted, slightly ribald musical—a satire of modern dating rituals and the vagaries of love and marriage—is one of those shows that never grow dull. There's just something satisfying and refreshing about a work that so astutely depicts all those silly, sweet, embarrassing things we do in the name of romance, love, and sex. Creators Joe DiPietro and Jimmy Roberts clearly capitalize on that, packing this work with plenty of humorous sketches and memorable songs that highlight every relationship faux pas and triumph in the proverbial book of love. Like a clever standup comic who uncannily zeros in on every human quirk, this musical compels everyone—regardless of age or gender—to laugh and nod knowingly at one another as scene after scene truthfully points out all our crazy, bittersweet idiosyncrasies.

Although this fun musical is inherently witty and entertaining, there's always room for enhancement, and director Larry Raben and his cast seize that opportunity with exuberant success. Their collaboration is a delightful romp that starts on a high note of energy and never lets up as it sails through tales of first dates, parenthood woes, and other romantic collisions. Tami Tappan Damiano and Lance Roberts are most memorable in this staging, exhibiting a boundless energy that's charmingly infectious. Damiano's sweet voice and expressive acting serve her well in her roles—comic and touching. She is hilarious in the exaggerated "He Called Me," in which a potential suitor's return call is grounds for abandoned celebration. She's also poignantly vulnerable in "I Will Be Loved Tonight," a hopeful song about longed-for intimacy, and "The First Dating Video of Rose Ritz," a sobering skit about the scars left by divorce.

Roberts, with his mobile features and commanding presence, is also a scene stealer. He's often at his best in the mini-vignettes, in which he earns laughter as a scary Death Row matchmaker and a smarmy infomercial host pitching the questionable legal and relationship services of Jacoby & Meyers & Masters & Johnson. Rounding out the cast, Stan Chandler and Susan Hoffman add their own charisma to the show. They provide one of the most hilarious moments in "Marriage Tango," a duet that reveals how stealing an intimate moment is nearly impossible for married couples with children. It's a randy, laughter-inducing song-and-dance number that deftly sums up one of the show's messages: Love is often messy and difficult, but it's always worth the effort in the end.

"I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change," presented by Musical Theatre West at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center, 1800 Palo Verde Ave., Ste. E, Long Beach. Thurs.-Fri. 8 p.m., Sat. 2 & 8 p.m., Sun. 2 p.m. (except 4/20), Sun. 7 p.m. (4/28 only). Apr. 20-May 5. $20-45. (562) 430-2324.

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