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I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change: 4 actors play 40 characters

‘We want to give audiences something to relate to, whether they’re a young romantic hit by dating app fatigue, or older couple going through the trials of marriage’—Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo

Gian Magdangal and Gabby Padilla (right), Krystal Kane and Marvin Ong

Show dates are June 14 to July 6 at Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium in RCBC Plaza, Ayala Ave. corner Gil Puyat Ave. (Buendia), Makati.

Forty characters in a musical will certainly crowd the stage. Yet, that should do for Repertory Philippines’ new production, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.

Actually, four actors will play the 40 characters onstage, and they will amazingly switch personalities, including costume changes, all in a few seconds.

Rep will present love and romance, as complicated as they’ve ever been, with its interpretation of modern relationships in I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.

Director Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo

With book and lyrics by the award-winning Joe DiPietro, music by renowned composer Jimmy Brooks and direction by the “First Lady of Philippine theater,” Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, Rep’s latest production presents a series of hilarious yet achingly familiar vignettes on connection and intimacy, commitment and loneliness.

“I don’t know how I managed, to be honest,” Lauchengco-Yulo told The “It’s great because it keeps the artistic juices flowing. So when people ask me , ‘Are you free?’ I answered them right away, ‘No.’

“I rehearse from 1 to 8 p.m. every day for Rep. I started first week of May, the moment after Buruguduystunstugudunstuy opened.

“So my weekdays are with Rep and my weekends are with Newport. When Rep opens, I will be half at RCBC and half at Newport, because they will be running simultaneously this June for two weekends.”

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change premiered at Westside Theatre in New York City in 1996. The 2024 staging in Manila is set in a bustling metropolis where swiping left or right is the norm—touching on things like chasing that invisible string in this era of situationships, and ghosting, and reigniting that spark despite all the distractions.

Lauchengco-Yulo is very hands on with everything that she does. Even with the set design of New York-based Joey Mendoza—who did the set design of her Little Women and Jekyll and Hyde—she makes it a point to work with him.

She knew about I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change at the start of the year, when Rep unveiled its 2024 season offering.

“I knew by the time I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change started, Buruguduystunstugudunstuy musical had already opened,” Lauchengco-Yulo explained. “So, I was able to accept the Rep project.

“From the very start, they already plot out the scene. The challenge of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change is that there’s no real narrative, just situations. Each song is a situation that does not connect to the next.

“So there are four actors playing 40 roles. It’s that kind. It’s a musical revue. There’s no real story, but the basic premise is about people trying to connect.”

Rep’s take on the second longest-running off-Broadway musical features a fantastic and accomplished cast of four playing 40 characters. All the cast members are making their theater comeback with this production.

Gian Magdangal and Gabby Padilla (left), Krystal Kane and Marvin Ong

Gian Magdangal, known for his versatile skills as a singer and actor, takes the stage after his standout performance in the 2022 Rep production of Carousel, which earned him his second PhilStage Gawad Buhay award as male lead performance in a musical, and LEAF (live entertainment, arts, fashion and festival) Awards outstanding performance by an actor in a musical.

A long-time Repper, Gabby Padilla joins the quartet after garnering recent acclaim for her film roles in Billie and Emma, where she got a FAMAS nod, and Gitling, which made her win Best Actress award in the Second Paragon Film Lokal Choice Awards and Fourth Pinoy Rebyu Awards.

Krystal Kane is returning to the spotlight after a four-year hiatus. Bitten by the theater bug since she was 10, Kane is known for her roles in The Sound of Music as Brigitta, In the Heights as Nina, Spring Awakening as Wendla, and Tabing Ilog: The Musical as Jerry.

Another theater comeback, PhilStage Gawad Buhay awardee singer-actor-songwriter Marvin Ong, brings his remarkable talents to the stage, having earned accolades for his role as Toby in Rep’s Sweeney Todd, and achieving gold record status for his debut album.

Lauchengco-Yulo is very pleased with the choice of cast for I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.

It was staged by Rep in 2006. Michael Williams directed. It’s second longest-running off-Broadway musical after The Fantasticks.

“I can understand why I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change is one of the longest-running off-Broadway musicals because it is easy to relate with, you don’t think too much, you can easily relate.

“Each song is a different situation of dating. There’s marriage, there are older couples, there’s the boy-boy relationship. There are many things about the show that have been modernized from the older version.”

Lauchengco-Yulo is confident her accomplished cast can brilliantly pull off their roles.

‘…. every time they go out and they come back, all of them are different persons. The 15-second changes are challenging’

“My challenge is to really get them in shape, because every time they go out and they come back, all of them are different persons. The 15-second changes are challenging. They have to change, come back onstage and they’re another person.

“Those are their characters. For example, Gab (Padilla), in one scene, she’s dating someone, next scene, she’s a mother. They keep changing. That’s the challenge for the cast. That they have to come in and become different people.”

The cast are real people. “Hindi ka pwedeng magpatawa for the sake of making the audience laugh. So my challenge to my cast is to find the truth of why your character is behaving the way they are behaving. No matter how absurd it is.”

“I am confident and I will help them get there,” Lauchengco-Yulo said. “I also have a great, creative team. My challenge to Stephen (Viñas) is 15 seconds. I have tweaked certain things about the show, to how I see it in my head. I love stylized staging.

“My challenge is I’m toying around with the idea of using the same furniture throughout with different configurations. The cast themselves will do the set changes.”

Among them, Barbara Jance, whom audiences last saw in Rep’s 2023 to 2024 run of Snow White and the Prince, and Davy Narciso, known for the productions with Ateneo Blue Repertory—he may have stepped back from theater since graduating in 2022, but now, he tries to juggle it with a career in Psychology.

An exceptional team of creatives is bringing this production to life: assistant director Cara Barredo, musical director Ejay Yatco, set and costume designer Joey Mendoza, associate costume designer Hershee Tantiado, associate set designer Lawyn Cruz;

Projector graphics and video designer GA Fallarme, lighting designer Meliton Roxas, choreographer Stephen Viñas, and sounds designer Aji Manalo are all on board to join the quest for  modern love.

“With I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, we want to give audiences something they can relate to, whether they’re a young romantic hit by dating app fatigue, or an older couple going through the trials of marriage,” Lauchengco-Yulo explains.

“Because regardless of age or stage in love, we want this show to emphasize that despite all the problems and miscommunications, love endures—with lots of laughs and some wit on the side.”

Early this year, Rep raised the curtains for its 87th season with the Philippine premiere of Harold Pinter’s Betrayal,  for which three UK-based British-Filipino theater actors were flown in to Manila to do Pinter’s three-hander— James Cooney, James Bradwell and Vanessa White. The play was inspired, interestingly, by the playwright’s own, seven-year marital affair.

It was directed, for the first time for Rep, by critically acclaimed actor and theater director Victor Lirio, who’s been based in New York and London and who himself chose the three actors.

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