Opening tonight, Friday, March 7, the Backstage Theatre in Breckenridge presents the musical comedy “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.” The play features four actors and a pianist, who take the stage as a variety of people making their way through the myriad (and often ridiculous) stages of dating and romance, marriage and long-time love.
“It takes you on a journey and plays through the stereotypes of love and relationships, through dating all the way through death,” said director Seth Caikowski.
Much of the appeal of the play comes from the fact that each member of the audience can relate in some way to the situations presented, he added.
Because of its subject, Caikowski said parents should consider the play PG-13 for “adult themes, some sexual situations. There’s no nudity but there is language.”
Each of the four actors onstage plays upwards of nine or 10 characters — a different person within each vignette. While it’s something of a challenge, it was one that the actors said they enjoy taking on.
“As an actor it’s kind of like candy, it’s theater candy, because you get to play every facet,” said Caikowski. This is his fifth time being involved with the play, and among his previous involvements he acted in it.
“It posed a challenge at first,” said actor TJ Hogel, who participated in Backstage Theatre’s production of “Oliver,” in which he played several different characters, “and then once everybody started getting comfortable with what they were doing with the music and their lines and their characters, it almost became very easy to separate each character.”
Hogel had seen the play performed once before, and jumped at the chance to be involved directly. He struggled to think which of the musical numbers was his favorite, eventually citing “Hey There Single Guy / Gal,” and added, “It’ll always be changing. I’ll always be loving different things about the show.”
Along with many members in the audience, there are parts in the play that speak to his own experience. One of his characters, for example, is dragged to a chick flick with his girlfriend, and ultimately ends up enjoying the experience.
“I have been down that road many a time,” Hogel said with a laugh.
Melanie Horton, who also acted in “Oliver,” said her challenge lay in finding a way to represent the story arc through multiple characters rather than just one.
“It’s so fun and such a challenge for an actor to have to play all these characters back-to-back and to really find ways to make them different and still be truthful,” she said.
Horton has also acted in the play before, though the first time was more than 10 years ago. She said she’s gone through a variety of experiences that the play mentions, from dating to finding the person of her dreams. She is engaged to Hogel, and taking the stage with him in this production has been a fun experience, she said.
“It’s a lot of fun. … We’re at the beginning of our lives together and we play that older couple together (in the play), so it’s interesting to kind of look ahead and think about, will this be us in however many years? It’s a great deal of fun to be doing it, for sure.”
Pianist Trent Hines also takes the stage with the four actors. His notes follow the characters along as they discover love and hilarity.
“The hardest part of casting the show was casting the piano player, because it’s such a central part of our show,” said Caikowski. “What’s great about Trent is that it doesn’t matter what he does or how he plays — he’s magnetic. You watch him on stage because he’s so much fun to watch. He has a smile that pretty much lights up any room, so he himself is a light on stage, which is fantastic, as well as being fiercely talented at the piano.”
Much like the actors, Hines said he enjoys the play because it gives him the chance to play a variety of styles, rather than just one. The musical numbers run the gamut from rock and roll to tango to jazz.
His job, Hines said, is to support the actors rather than feature himself.
“It’s more about supporting the actors and what they’re doing and making them shine as much as possible,” he said.
“I would like to say that working with these four actors has, they’ve made my job extremely easy bc they’re so brilliant,” Caikowski said. “Each one of them has brought such amazing insight and talent to what they’re doing on stage and I can’t wait for people to see it, for that reason.”
Most of all, the play and those involved in it want the audience members to laugh and enjoy themselves.
“What I would want the audience to take away from it is just a fun night at the theater,” Hogel said. “There are no heavy moments, it’s not a show that you’re going to leave going, ‘Huh, I think that changed my life.’ It’s a show that you leave and you feel good. It was happy, you laughed through the whole thing, you enjoyed it. It’s a whole experience from beginning to end. My hope is the audience walks away with that good warm, happy feeling.”