When I realized that I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change had two casts, I was torn — which cast do I see?
Cast A has two young up-and-comers in Juneau's acting scene (Thomas Eggers with JDHS and UAS experience and Jacob Riddle with TMHS experience), as well as two veteran performers in the female roles (Christina Bruce with JDHS, college and post-college experience down south and Salissa Thole with local musical and theatre experience). Cast B seemed to have less stage experience, but a lot of charm (Kaley McGoey, Travis Smith, Heather Mitchell and Brian Clasmeyer). I have friends in both. It's a real dilemma.
I chose to see the show based on timing, deciding Saturday at 6:30 p.m. would be the ideal time to see the play. I showed up and chose a seat up front and left of center — I love sitting as close as possible during live performances — and was utterly charmed by cast B. There was great energy and great chemistry and an overall great performance. I think there was the occasional fudged line, but the show still managed to elicit laughter and pull at the heart strings at times.
I was so happy with the production and curious to see it in the hands of Cast A that I decided to forego other plans and just stay for the second show. I returned to my same spot and watched the entire musical from start to finish a second time with Cast A — it was totally worth it. Though the choreography and the songs were the same, the characters had new life with the new cast.
Whether serious or teasing, I was asked "Which was better?" by more than one person (a cast member and a friend) and I don't think that's the right question to ask, nor a question I can answer. Each cast brought a lot of great energy and personality to the show and it was impossible to decide whether I preferred one performance over the other. It was just as difficult to decide which segments were best. The flirting between the geek boy (Smith/Eggers) and geek girl (McGoey/Thole) was my favorite from the first half, and for the second half I think everyone enjoyed the tango — "I'm married and I'm gonna have sex" — with Mitchell and Smith for Cast B and Bruce and Eggers for Cast A.
The off-Broadway musical is so cheeky and fun that it doesn't matter a bit that it's a collection of cliches about modern(ish) dating and romance.* Rosie Humphery, JLO's executive director, did a wonderful job choosing a musical that broke from the norm but kept with the spirit of the organization. She also did a great job as the accompanist. Becky Engstrom, known for her choreography, showed she had director's chops as well. And it's important to commend the stage manager, Amanda Waid, and crew as well.
My wholehearted recommendation? Go see it! Maybe even twice.
Showtimes are 6:30 and 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, plus a 3 p.m. showing on Sunday.
You can find out which cast plays which show or check out the cast at juneauopera.org.
* I say modern(ish) because AOL comes up and there is prominent use of a landline phone with a very long cord. Also, people say dating has changed for my generation, but I think plenty in the musical still rings true.