RALEIGH — If you've ever dated, been a parent, had a divorce or given up finding a mate, you'll relate to "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change," the lively musical revue staged by Hot Summer Nights at the Kennedy.
The show says nothing particularly new or insightful about the ups and downs of relationships, but its universal truths prompt a lot of knowing laughter and even some tearful pangs. Despite a 12-year run off-Broadway and several previous Triangle area productions, this current version's fine cast and clever direction should please repeat visitors as well as first-timers.
The show features dozens of characters in short songs and sketches, moving from first meetings to final departures and covering all the joys, tensions, jealousies and reconciliations in between.
Composer Jimmy Roberts astutely spoofs a range of musical categories, from country & western to soul and doo-wop, appropriately fitting each style to the situation. Lyricist Joe DiPetro has a lot of fun with puns, innuendo and off-kilter rhymes. As performed by music director Jay Wright on keyboard and Joan Beck on violin, the numbers are charming, funny and catchy.
Director Tito Hernandez instills energy and confidence in his talented cast, moving them confidently over every available space on the multilevel, raked stage. His choreography enhances the big numbers, never just for show and always integrated into the moment. The constant changes of furnishings and costumes are well coordinated, although intimate revues such as this can work as well (or better) with simpler means.
Aaron Pratt amuses and amazes with his wide range of characterizations, whether a bespectacled nerd, a nervous bridegroom or a garrulous date. Vocally, he can bring on guffaws as a weary parent waiting to have sex with his wife ("Marriage Tango") or put a catch in the throat in a paean to loving his spouse after 30 years.
Pratt is paired in both these instances with Andrea Schulz Twiss, who is equally at home with deadpan sarcasm ("Always a Bridesmaid") or sweet warmth ("I Can Live With That"), vocally adept and marvelously physical.
Yolanda Rabun commits herself fully to every character, from ditzy to devoted, radiantly vocalizing "I Will Be Loved Tonight," while investing her video dating sketch with believable reality. Jason Sharp can play a Neanderthal couch potato and a cooing parent with equal ease, his car-loving husband and sensitive movie date numbers marking special highlights.
The four play comfortably together, projecting a great sense of fun. Some of their best lines and vocals get swallowed up in the now-unavoidable (and unsightly) head mikes, a shame for such an intimate piece in such a compact space.