I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change – Arts Theatre

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change is a musical by Joe DiPietro, with music by Jimmy Roberts (whose other works include Memphis), which, rather than following the same characters throughout the show, is a series of short vignettes on the various stages of relationships, from first dates, through marriage, kids, divorce and growing old, which allows the actors to really show off their talents as they move quickly from portraying one character to the next, often very different, one, but still managing to grab the audience’s attention and empathy even in such short scenes.

Following an immensely popular and critically acclaimed one-month run at Above the Arts in July 2015, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change was revived again by Kirk Jameson at the Arts Theatre for one day only, 15th August 2016, with the all-star cast reprising their roles for two shows.

Simon Lipkin (Rock of Ages, Assassins, Avenue Q), currently starring in Guys and Dolls alongside Rebel Wilson, is a master of ad-libing and his comic timing is perfection. His hilarious performance as a serial killer offering dating advice had the audience in uproar, but in a dramatic shift of character, another of his scenes saw him deliver a very tender, poignant and beautiful rendition of ‘Shouldn’t I Be Less In Love With You?’.

Samuel Holmes (White Christmas, Spamalot, Kiss Me Kate) played a wide range of characters, from conveying the worries of a first-time father who has caught the “baby-talk” bug with ‘The Baby Song’, through to ‘I Can Live With That’ where he plays an elderly gentleman who has lost the person he spent his life with.

Julie Atherton (Avenue Q, Sister Act, Mamma Mia), who will be hosting a series of cabaret shows at Brasserie Zedel alongside Simon Lipkin this autumn, played quirky, zany characters throughout, including Rose Ritz, who makes a dating video after her husband leaves her for a “limping grandmother”, and delivered a beautiful performance of ‘I Will Be Loved Tonight’.

Gina Beck (Phantom of the Opera, Wicked, Les Miserables), currently starring in Show Boat at the New London Theatre, displayed her outstanding voice, particularly with ‘He Called Me’, and her humorous performance of ‘Always A Bridesmaid’ was one of the highlights of the show.

There were also some magical duets, including Beck and Lipkin’s ‘Marriage Tango’ and Atherton and Holmes’ ‘A Stud and a Babe’, and the closing song ‘I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change’ brings the show to an uplifting end, leaving everyone smiling and wanting more.

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change is an amazing, funny yet touching, show about the problems of love and relationships which everyone can relate to – the message of the musical is: “find someone to love, someone you think is perfect, and then spend the rest of your life trying to change them!” This cast delivered a scintillating show, clearly having lots of fun on-stage and their joy was infectious and uplifting. We hope this show is revived again soon, with the same cast, and for much longer!

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Jesus Christ Superstar – Open Air Theatre

Jesus Christ Superstar is a rock opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. The musical began its life as a concept album, featuring Murray Head as Judas, Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan as Jesus and Manfred Mann’s Mike d’Abo. The show then made its Broadway debut in 1971 and West End debut the following year. This controversial musical follows the story of Jesus Christ leading up to his crucifixion.

In this production, Jesus was played by Declan Bennett (Once, American Idiot, Rent). Bennett is brilliant in the role. He portrays Jesus as an ordinary human being who is experiencing the pressures of being followed and worshipped. Bennett excels with ‘Gethsemane’ where Jesus questions his impending fate but uncertainly accepts it.

At this performance, Joshua Dever (Twelfth Night, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Grease) played Judas, with Tyrone Huntley (Memphis, Hairspray, The Book of Mormon) playing the role full-time. Judas is the driving force behind Jesus, willing him on, but ultimately betrays him, taking silver to help the poor for disclosing Jesus’ location. Dever was spectacular in the role, giving a magnificent performance of ‘Judas’ Death’.

Anoushka Lucas (The Etienne Sisters, Klook’s Last Stand, The Lightning Child) played Mary. Lucas was sublime as Mary and her vocal performance of ‘I Don’t Know How To Love Him’ was breathtaking and touching.

A standout number in the show is ‘Pilate and Christ/Herod’s Song’, performed by Peter Caulfield (One Man, Two Guvnors, Cinderella, Into the Woods). Caulfield’s flamboyant and comical interpretation of Herod sees him prancing around the stage, taunting and challenging Jesus to live up to the hype of his legendary abilities.

The ensemble are phenomenal throughout the show, performing Drew McOnie’s ingenious choreography perfectly.

Overall, this production is spectacular, with fantastic music and a talented cast. It tells the well-known, tragic story from an alternative viewpoint, delivering the overall message that Jesus was only a human man and yet he touched and inspired so many, making the ultimate sacrifice for them, and then asks the question: why? This production of Jesus Christ Superstar is celebrating the musical’s 45th anniversary, and is showing at the Open Air Theatre (its first outdoor performance in the UK) until 27th August, with rumours of a West End transfer.