I Love You Because intrigued me for a lot of reasons – it’s a musical I hadn’t seen; I like that Not So Common Players makes theater accessible to everyone with free shows; the show is an adaption of Pride and Prejudice and the venue was non-traditional. This all comes together into a fine show, both funny and touching, with strong work both on and offstage.
Austin (Michael Camelo), heartbroken to find his girlfriend of five years cheating on him, is urged to get back into dating by his brother Jeff (Marc Christopher). At the same time, Marcy (Elizabeth Corey), who has just broken up with her boyfriend, is told by her best friend Diana (Christine Meglino) that she needs six months to get over him, and she needs to find Mr. Wrong and date him in those six months, because Mr. Right follows as soon as you find Mr. Wrong. Jeff and Austin set up a double date with Marcy and Diana; Jeff and Diana hit it off, but Austin and Marcy are polar opposites – so is he the Mr. Wrong she needs? Or is Mr. Right right in front of her?
The show’s six-person cast (including Matthew Dembling and Jennifer Lefsyk, who play a number of smaller roles) – works very well together. Director Adam M. Coons does a solid job with the direction – the characters are well-rounded and the relationships between the characters are strong and defined (something often found lacking in musical theater). Adrienne Sherman’s job as musical director can’t be ignored – the music is beautiful (even if some of the songs – through no fault of anyone involved here – are a bit forgettable … that’s the fault of the show’s lyricist) and the harmonies, especially when the four main characters or all six actors are singing together (and especially in the song “But I Do”) are gorgeous.
Christopher and Meglino may not be the lead couple, but they are the more dynamic couple, both the comic relief and an unexpected splash of romance in the production. Christopher’s comedic timing is spot-on, and Meglino (who should be familiar to local musical theater buffs – she’s a total powerhouse, and every time I’ve seen her onstage she’s stolen the show) plays buttoned-up and cutting loose with such abandon you can’t help but love her. Corey plays Marcy with conviction; Camelo’s character is hard to like (again, through no fault of his own – a writing issue) but he fully commits to it and there’s no faulting that. Dembling and Lefsyk, who could have faded into the background, have complete scenes going on for each of their characters, and I found myself watching what was progressing with them (and rooting for them) regularly – kudos to them for not letting themselves become set pieces. Their work really shines.
The full house and the standing ovation at curtain call proved that the audience agreed with me – the show is a hit. Definitely worth checking out before it’s gone – you’ll leave with a smile on your face.
“I Love You Because”; Not So Common Players, Clifton Park-Halfmoon Library, 475 Moe Road, Clifton Park; through November 5; free; Runtime: 2 hours and 25 minutes with a fifteen-minute intermission; http://notsocommonplayers.org/