Relationship at the heart of Winterport Open Stage show

Posted April 21, 2011, at 10:03 p.m.

WINTERPORT, Maine — What’s love got to do with it? Everything, it seems, from the earliest spark on a first date to the long-lasting, battle-tested 40-year marriage. That’s the basic premise behind “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change,” a musical produced by Winterport Open Stage that’s set to open this weekend.

Directed by Dominick Varney, the show stars Varney, Brianne Beck, Christie Robinson and Ben Laymen as more than 80 characters who fall in and out of love over the course of the musical. Varney chose the show because he felt it would be a perfect fit for Winterport Open Stage, which has, in recent years, staged such grown-up comedies as “Jenny’s House of Joy” and “Shakers.”

“This is the first full-fledged musical we’ve done. It’s two hours long with choreography by Stephanie Erb and musical direction by Phil Burns,” said Varney. “Our comedies went over very well, and musicals are always popular, and this is really such a great show. It’s funny and sad, all at the same time. It’s got great tongue-in-cheek humor and fantastic songs. I love this show.”

“I Love You” pits zany, ironic humor against a backdrop of first love, divorce and everything in between. Beck and Robinson, with their vocal chops and dancing backgrounds, each play a multitude of female roles, while musical theater veterans Varney and Laymen take on everything else.

“It’s a modern-day look at relationship. The first act is about beginnings and first dates and figuring out who you really love,” said Varney. “The second half is about marriage and divorce and even on to the death of a partner. You spend your life trying to find that one person to spend your life with, and then once you have them, you try to change them. Hence the name.”

“I Love You” is the second-longest-running off-Broadway musical of all time, premiering in 1996. It’s a worldwide hit, translated into 13 languages. It finally closed in New York in 2007. This will be its first performance in eastern Maine.

“It’s a pretty universal show. Everyone can relate to the topic. And everyone loves comedy,” said Varney. “Directing comedy is very difficult though. Much more difficult than drama. As a director, it’s definitely a challenge. But it’s a very fun challenge.”

“I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. April 22-23 and 29-30 and May 6-7, and at 3 p.m. April 24, May 1 and 8, at Wagner Middle School in Winterport. General admission is $10 at the door; $8 for students and seniors. For information on Winterport Open Stage, visit www.winterportopenstage.com.

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