You might predict that the musical revue I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, at CLO Cabaret, is about people who, after joining together in bonds of whole commitment, try to make over their partners. Nope. Although 20 sketches and 20 songs spotlight love, the characters entertain no illusions about either perfection or about changing anyone. In fact, Joe Dipietro's book has fun with the absence of perfection.
And, having witnessed the first act, you might predict that the whole thing resembles standard stand-up comedy, zapping everyday foibles and imperfections. (But then, who laughs at happiness and joy?)
However, the second act offers a few fresh and imaginative pieces, giving the package some appealing substance. Credit Dipietro's concepts and his dialogue. Credit, too, the four-member cast and director James Brennan for making the best of it work.
Act II deals with marriage and, just as you begin to think that Dipietro will walk well-worn aisles, he offers a portrayal of people, wed for 30 years, stumbling through early-morning rituals, until the husband remembers how much he still loves his wife. A sensitive idea, even if quite simple. In another sketch, "The Very First Dating Video of Rose Ritz," a newly divorced woman finds herself completely venting, admitting facts slicker video-daters would gloss over. Surprisingly, perceptively, Dipietro's fine material then underscores the woman's strength. And in "Funerals Are for Dating" a dear and funny old man touchingly seeks new companionship with a widow. Ted Watts Jr. brings understanding depth and sweetness to that old man. And, as Rose Ritz, Kristiann Menotiades underscores her already evident talent.
Cumulatively, then, the second act becomes positive and affirmative, whereas the first act generally makes dating look like a bummer, except when Menotiades' glowing warmth shines in a bit that celebrates falling in love. That act also has a couple of pieces with clever premises, but the dialogue doesn't make the most of the comic possibilities.
Notably, this 12-year-old, internationally renowned hit show has no material about gay couples. I'll bet Dipietro could have come up with something new and perceptive to add on this count, especially given that his comedy Fucking Men, a contemporary take on Schnitzler's La Ronde, opened in London earlier this year.
Throughout it all, although Jimmy Roberts' music never goes beyond generic, Dipietro's lyrics come across as clever and inventive and Christine Laitta and Joseph Domencic, like the other cast members, sing everything exceptionally well, with fine voices. And all four display character versatility.
As a result, what could be fluff turns out to have some memorable qualities -- even if perfection, as always, remains hard to come by.
I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change continues through Feb. 1. The Cabaret at Theater Square, 655 Penn Ave., Downtown. 412-325-6766 or www.clocabaret.com