Monday, April 25, 2022

Humor, insight in 'I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change'

Jack O'Reilly and Samantha Rose Cardenas imagine they're "A Stud and a Babe."

“I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” takes a humorous yet insightful look at how relationships change from first date to 30 years of marriage.

Presented by Hillbarn Theatre & Conservatory and adroitly directed by Erica Abrahamson, this musical comedy features four talented actors who portray dozens of characters of varying types and ages in more than 20 scenes, each a self-contained vignette.

Because the characters’ names change from scene to scene, the actors are simply labeled Man #1 (Jack O’Reilly), Man #2 (Keith Pinto), Woman #1 (Samantha Rose Cardenas) and Woman #2 (Hayley Lovegren).

With music by Jimmy Roberts and book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro, the show opens with “Cantata for a First Date” as the four characters get dressed for the date.

The actual date takes place during “Not Tonight, I’m Busy, Busy, Busy” as Pinto and Lovegren decide that a first date is too awkward, so they pretend it’s the second and then the third, when they must decide on sex.

One of the more amusing scenes is “A Stud and a Babe,” in which O’Reilly’s character is actually a nerd and his date, Cardendas, is a frump.

Hayley Lovegren laments that she's "Always a Bridesmaid."

Later, in “Always a Bridesmaid," Lovegren laments that not only is she not getting married, she has to wear ugly dresses.

The way that parenthood changes people is seen in “The Baby Song,” as a married gay couple, Pinto and O’Reilly, who have a new baby, evolve from interesting adults to baby talkers who totally bore a good friend, Cardenas.

Other scenes show a contentious family road trip, two oldsters meeting at a funeral and more.

Each one is funny because it seems so real and because the four actors are so versatile.

Guided by musical director Matthew Mattei, each one also sings well, accompanied by Jon Mattei on a white grand piano and Paula Filseth on violin.

The scenes are divided by quick blackouts when the stage crew, Eric Olson and Adria Olson, moves minimal set pieces (set by Matt Owens with sound and lighting by Ron Ho) in and out, giving the actors time for quick costume changes.

Credit goes to costume designer Ashley Garlick for outfits that are appropriate for the characters.

Suitable for an adult audience only, “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” runs a fast-moving two hours and 40 minutes with one intermission.

It will continue through May 8 at Hillbarn Theatre, 1285 E. Hillsdale Blvd., Foster City. For tickets and information, call (650) 349-6411, Ext. 2, or visit

Photos by Mark and Tracy Photography