I LOVE YOU, YOU’RE PERFECT, NOW CHANGE – MUST SEE MUSICAL COMEDY FOR MARRIED COUPLES

SHORT TAKE:

I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change is a very very funny musical comedy revue about dating, marriage, men, women and relationships.

WHO SHOULD GO:

For adults in general and married couples in particular. Might be an awkward first date but is positively a MUST SEE for married couples.

LONG TAKE:

I Love You, You're  Perfect, Now Change is the latest play showing at ACTS Theatre from August 3 through 12 at 7:30pm, and Sunday matinees at 3:00pm. I was privileged to get permission to attend the dress rehearsal and must say it was some of the most fun I have ever had in the theater!

A musical comedy revue of twenty skits with over 40 characters and costume changes, are played by four very gifted actors. Clay and Markie Hebert, Kelly Rowland and Casey Doucet make up the intrepid quartet who sing and act up a storm of laughs and a few bittersweet tears.

They all have AMAZING and powerhouse voices with NO INDIVIDUAL MICROPHONES! They sure don't need them. I would have sat for 90 minutes and enjoyed listening to them sing random songs out of any Broadway collection but each of the diverse vignettes is fitted with a catchy song crafted specifically for the tone of the short story it tells sung by its own unique characters. The wide story range stretches from poignant to snarky to slapstick to tender and all will make you smile as they lead you, not only from the beginning of relationships through their maturities, but guide you through every possible emotion a romantic might have.

Clay Hebert does double duty as director, aided by his assistant Ashley Mayeux. Clay was most recently in Godspell. Markie Hebert was the female lead in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Casey Doucet just won an ACTA for his Shrek in the play of the same name. Kelly Rowland is a powerful mezzo-soprano with a flare for comic timing. There is a fifth member of the troupe who is not seen but heard. Andrew Steiner delights the audience with live piano accompaniment, expertly blending these four strong voices.

This is a hilarious send up on the loneliness and difficulties of dating, the challenges of marriage, the tragedy of divorce, and the optimism that it is never too late to find love. With twenty musical vignettes presented for your approval, there is something for everyone involved in the marriage adventure. 

Kelly Rowland and Casey Doucet portray an ecclectic collection of characters who are, at turns: hilariously ridiculous, heartwrenching, and adorable.

Clay and Markie Hebert also have a wide variety of personalities to perform, but the scenes where Clay and Markie play man and wife are especially charming as they are married in real life with three little boys. So, for them, this play isn't an observation but a strange kind of out-of-body experience, as they humorously have an opportunity to re-emerse themselves in the excitement, pratfalls, heartbreak, frustrations, and soul fulfilling contentment that highlights the different stages of dating, and varied relationships, with the hope of culminating in the lifetime marital committment.

Make your plans quickly as you'll likely want to see this gem more than once and it only runs through August 12. Get your tickets at ACTS THEATRE

PATERSON – QUIET LITTLE FILM ABOUT FINDING CREATIVITY AND MEANING IN THE SIMPLEST THINGS

SHORT TAKE:

Paterson is a charming film which follows an ordinary nice man for a week as he drives a bus and spends time with his wife and friends, finding inspiration in even the smallest things, to write poetry.

LONG TAKE:

(SOME SPOILERS)

Paterson spends a week in the life of a gentle, kind bus driver (Adam "Kylo Ren" Driver) in the small New Jersey town of the same name who lives with his artsy sweet and beautiful wife Laura and annoying bulldog Marvin.

The movie, to me, asks the question: do you affect art or does the art inherent in the creativity of those around you and the ambient beauty of everything from water falls to homeless bums to a pack of matches effect and shape YOU?

Paterson is presented as a very subtle fantasy – so subtle that I didn’t realize it until contemplating it after the credits had rolled. Paterson, the town, seems to be a magnet for creative forces which, in turn, effect their residents in large and small ways. This little unlikely town is home to a number of minor celebrities: Lou Abbott – comedian, Patrick Warburton – actor, Victor Cruz – football player, Catherine Sullivan – astronaut, Andre Torres – baseball player.

And the film focuses on the unexpected artistry of Paterson, the man, a quiet government employee – a decent responsible man, faithful to and in love with his wife, observant and attentive to the needs of those around him, who finds enough beauty in even the most mundane detail of life – such as the name of the company on a box of matches – to inspire him to write poetry.

He and others seem at times almost under a spell which elicits bursts of creative energies.

But, I mean, why not? If spaceships like the Enterprise can be expected to attract temporal anomalies, and the house in Poltergeist be haunted by the angry spirits of unburied dead; if a fracture in time and space can be located in Cardiff, Wales from which Dr Who’s TARDIS can recharge; if demons can follow unwary owners of cursed objects; if Newton Haven in Simon Pegg’s The World’s End inexplicably can become the "shelter city" for evil alien robots who plan to replace humans; and the Darling Family attracts the attention of Peter Pan – then why can’t a town be imbued with its own creative forces and instill them in its inhabitants in one way or another?

An actor who dramatically obsesses over a childhood friend? A bar owner who strives to participate in chess competitions, even to stealing his wife’s Piggy Bank money? An adolescent girl who writes poetry waiting for her family in a back street in a style very similar to our protagonist?

Paterson – the bus driver – spends every week day waking up at 6:15, having a bowl of Cheerios, driving a bus through the sleepy community, listening to his passenger’s random chatter, spending his lunch at a water fall, enjoying his wife’s eccentric constant redecorating and cooking, taking his wife’s dog for a walk, having one beer at a local bar and entertaining himself all day, like a familiar tune he hums constantly, writing strains of free style poetry in his head then committing them to a solitary, uncopied notebook which he seems interested in only his wife being privy.

Elements of his wife’s morning-described dreams faithfully and routinely crop up in his every day life – she mentions having seen twins and suddenly Paterson notices they are everywhere. Opportunities for poetic events gently flitter around him like fairies. And people simply act in prosaic but poetic ways (sounds like an oxymoron but it works here): The bartender plays chess with himself then moans about getting his "ass whooped" by his opponent. The smitten lover brings a toy gun with which to confront his ex-girlfriend. A random Japanese tourist commits a random act of kindness which gets our protagonist back on track after a minor catastrophe. His Iranian born wife suddenly announces her "lifelong dream" of which our protagonist does not appear to have had any foreknowledge, of being a country western star, and spends her days painting different black and white patterns on everything that stands still long enough – from the curtains to the dog’s collar to the cupcakes she sells at the Farmer’s Market.

And our bus driver is a poet who aspires to be…a bus driving poet happily married to his beautiful doting wife.

Paterson is a charming little movie worth seeing as one might meditate on the shape of clouds on a still summer afternoon or watch swans swim on a glass flat lake.

And those who only know Adam Driver as this generation's version of Darth Vader should watch to note that Driver really can act.

PASSENGERS – AN ALLEGORY FOR MARRIAGE

 
When my husband and I had been married for 15 years we volunteered to go through an Engaged Encounter Counseling training session. During that period of time we learned things about each other that we did not know! For example, his favorite color is blue. I thought it was tan. He always WEARS tan. Who knew?!
The process also reminded me about the dating/mating process. The early years when you become irresistably attracted. Then you wonder if you should take the risk of being a couple. After a time, as you consider you may be spending the rest of your life with this person – have I done the right thing? The infatuation. The sexual attraction. The sharing and adventure. The fun. And then you find out things maybe you hadn’t realized about the other. You fight. Maybe the fight seems to herald in the end of the relationship. But at some point you realize you would much prefer to journey through life WITH this person than without them – warts and all.
Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt star in Columbia Pictures’ PASSENGERS.
Perhaps it takes a personal crisis. Perhaps there is a moment when you see the resilient admirable core at the center of their being – the stuff that, even unknowingly, attracted you to them to begin with. Their morality. Their love of life. Their sense of fun….their courage in the face of life’s adversity. Something to which you can cling during the dangers and storms of life.
SPOILERS
In short, I have just synopsized Passengers. This movie is a brilliant allegory about just such a meeting, discernment, set of crises, resolution, determination and resolve that describe the stages of coming together in a marriage – not just the wedding, but truly the union of two people through thick and thin who commit selflessly to each other to face the life and death trials the world – or space – can bring.

Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) and Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) are strangers. Passengers on a deep space colony ship whose 5,000 colonists and 100+ crew are put into hibernation for the length of a 120 year trip. 32 years into the journey the ship has an unexpected, unplanned run in with a comet storm which causes damage which triggers the opening of Jim’s pod. It also causes other damage which will not be fully noticed for another 2 years.  Jim finds himself alone on a 1,000 foot luxury cruise ship with every amenity except companionship. There is the quirky addition of an android bartender


(Michael Sheen) but that’s it. He spends much of his time for the first few months: trying to contact Earth (round trip answer to even his cry for help would take 55 years), accessing the bridge (NOTHING short of a proper access code will get him entry despite the fact he is a mechanical engineer), reading manuals, trying to reactivate his hibernation pod. Finally he resigns himself to at least enjoying the amenities on the ship but after another few months he begins the slow descent into madness. He ceases to care even about shaving or dressing and finally is inches away from suicide when he randomly, if not Providentially comes across Aurora’s pod. He checks out her video profile and the books she has written and falls in love with her humor, her writing and ultimately…her. He struggles for months with the idea of manually opening her pod – even consulting Arthur, but his desperation is too great and he does what he realizes is the unthinkable – he awakens Aurora 87 years too early.

And so the courtship begins. The details of how the potential tragedy plays out, what her reaction is when she finds out what Jim has done, the reason why Jim's pod opened to begin with, and the resolution to their relationship I will leave to your watching of this amazing film.
Suffice it to say that I was captivated by the special effects, delighted by the story and impressed with the acting of two Robinson Crusoes and their bartender “Friday”. Pratt and Lawrence were terrific and Sheen endearing.
But it was my husband who recognized the analogy to marriage – how two people, against odds, found each other. That despite the hundreds of people around them it was up to ONLY the two of them to make a life for themselves, to overcome seemingly overwhelming obstacles and to triumph by self sacrificing to and for each other, recognizing their union may require foregoing other possible choices, binding themselves only to each other, and spending the rest of their lives making a life with each other. The perfect analogy of a courtship and marriage.
My only regret is that religion was sanitized out of the equation. There were Biblical elements: Jim willing to lay down his life for Aurora. Aurora willing to forgive Jim completely and his life becoming her life. They ultimately chose to cleave to each other, despite the fact Aurora was provided, by Jim, with another option. But there were no visits to a chapel, no praying to God in what was emotional extremity for Jim. No acknowledgement of the Hand of God and His Providence in their miraculously timed awakenings, finding each other or escape from mortal peril. And that’s a shame. Because with inclusion of the recogniztion of God this marital analogy would have been raised to the level of a sacramental union. There was even a clergy of sorts in the form of a Senior crewman (Lawrence Fishburne), who stood in the way of Captain for a time and who – before his demise – gave his “blessing” to them.
Despite this lack Passengers is a lovely, inspirational movie about the adventure of two people who bond for life…and who bond FOR life.