Getting a laugh out of life
Nancy L. Meyer loves a comedy. That’s why when she was asked by the Wilton Playshop to direct its upcoming production of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, she jumped at the chance.
“I told them, ‘as long as it’s funny,’” she told The Bulletin during an interview at the Playshop last week. “I love a good comedy.” The show opens Friday, Oct. 26, at 8 p.m.
I Love You is a show about relationships. It’s tagline is “Everything you have ever secretly thought about dating, romance, marriage, lovers, husbands, wives and in-laws but were afraid to admit.”
It premiered off-Broadway in 1996, and were that version to be presented, it would appear dated. But this is the 2018 version.
“They have contemporized it,” Meyer said of the show’s principals. For example, in the original show there was a musical number about a woman waiting by the phone for a man to call.
“The new scene is still about phones,” Meyer said, declining to elaborate for fear of giving away too much. Another scene had been about a blind date. Now it’s a date arranged online.
“They’ve updated celebrity references, technology, and it’s sensitive to our current culture,” she said.
Eight performers — five women and three men — portray a range of characters that change from scene to scene.
“That’s the joy and the challenge,” Meyer said, with characters that range from their 20s to their 70s.
Producer Ralph Pastore said that while at the Playshop he has heard — not seen — portions of the show and of the cast he said, “they pack a wallop.”
They are supported by live music provided by a pianist and saxophonist/clarinetist conducted by music director Zachary Kampler. Christine Titus is the choreographer.
The story arc follows a progression of relationships from dating to marriage, kids, divorce, and more dating. The penultimate scene, Meyer said, takes place in a funeral home.
Both Meyer and Pastore emphasized this is a show for adults, given the nature of the story and some mature language.
“It’s not gratuitous,” Meyer said. “Nothing’s mean, there’s not a mean-spirited moment in the show.”
When asked how the show plays in this #MeToo environment she said, “women are very empowered. … the women come off as really smart.”
The show is also a reunion of sorts for Meyer and Pastore who have known each other since he was a student in Meyer’s English class at Greenwich High School more than 30 years ago. Meyer, who is a singer by training, has held a number of educational positions and is now director of education with Connect with Kids, an educational media company that works to promote positive social action. A Stamford resident, she recently portrayed the Mother Superior in Curtain Call’s production of Sister Act.
“Nancy is probably one of the most fun, talented, easy-going people I know,” Pastore said. “I credit her with my foundation in the theater. I learned from the best and try to bring the best to everything I do, whether it is producing, directing or performing. I try to pass along all the wisdom from her wherever I’m involved.
“She’s definitely the right director for this material.”
The audience for I Love You will be the first to sit in the Playshop’s new chairs, purchased through its Musical Chairs fund-raising program, which is 70% complete.
Performances are Oct. 26, 27, Nov. 2, 3, 9 and 10 at 8 p.m., and Nov. 4 at 2 p.m. Tickets range from $30 to $35 and may be purchased at wiltonplayshop.org.
I Love You kicks off the Wilton Playshop’s 81st year and Pastore said the theater has a well-planned lineup. “We’re coming back strong with a fall show which is not too heavy,” he said. “It’s light, it’s fun. Based on everything going on in the world right now people need to escape a little bit and have a great night out. This type of show provides that.
“Then we segue into A Charlie Brown Christmas,” which was very well-received when it was done two years ago.
“Then into 2019 we have a few exciting things in play under our Applause series — musical revues and concerts,” which he said are still in the works. “We finish up with a blockbuster in Guys and Dolls, a traditional classic with great music and great dancing.
“We are keeping with our new focus which has been our audience survey and audience feedback. We continue to hear from audiences they want music.”
That’s what they will get with I Love You and a little bit more, according to Meyer. “I really, firmly believe we all need affirmation of the way we’ve lived our lives in terms of our relationships,” she said. “You’re going to walk out of this show feeling good about yourself.”