Reston Community Players I Love You BecauseBy Bob Ashby • Mar 8th, 2012 • Category: Reviews
Reston Community Players
Reston Community Center, Reston, VA
Through March 24th
2:35 with one intermission
$21/$18 Seniors and Juniors
Reviewed March 3rd, 2012
Reston Community Players’ (RCP) production of Joshua Salzman’s and Ryan Cunningham’s I Love You Because is a perfect little date movie of a musical comedy. The 2006 off-Broadway show does everything that a date movie should do. It features funny dialogue; cute, sweet characters with issues in their lives no more dire than navigating the 20/30-something New York dating scene; wry commentary on situations the characters face in trying to find true love; and a happy ending, of course. The only fault I can find with RCP’s presentation of the show is that they didn’t schedule it over the Valentine’s Day weekend.
Austin Bennet (Joshua Redford), an uptight greeting card verse writer, meets Susana Todd (Marcy Fitzwilliams), a spontaneous free spirit, as both are trying to get over bad breakups. Meanwhile, Austin’s brother Jeff (Tim Adams), and Marcy’s friend Diana Bingley (Evie Korovesis) strike up what begins as a friend-with-benefits arrangement. The two-person ensemble, Jolene Vettese and Terry Barr, who play waiters and bartenders in various restaurants the four principals visit, comments on the couples’ ups and downs.
All six of them are good — really good. There isn’t a weak moment all evening. Each presents a distinct, believable character, sings well, moves well (though this not a choreography-heavy show), and plays well with others. It is a commonplace compliment to an excellent community theater show to say that it is as good as a professional production. Having checked out several numbers from the original off-Broadway production on YouTube as I was writing this review, I have empirical evidence for the claim in this case.
While the show has no entries for the pantheon of great Broadway love songs, the songs are tuneful and clever. “We’re Just Friends,” sung by Jeff and Diana, is a delightful riff on the theme of FWB relationships. Marcy’s “Just Not Now” is a touching comment on problems in the emotional timing of relationships. The reflective second act quartet “But I Do” is the most intricate piece of musical writing in the show. “Marcy’s Yours,” sung by Diana, Jeff, and Austin, has distant echoes of the much stronger “Being Alive” from Company, which remains, 40+ years after it opened, the all-time greatest musical about New York relationships.
I Love You Because also provides enjoyable comic scenes, such as when Jeff throws out his back trying to have sex with Diana or when the tipsy Austin and Marcy give a disagreeable waiter his comeuppance. If the latter isn’t a classic on the level of the Jack Nicholson diner scene in Five Easy Pieces, it is funny in its own right and plays an important part in the evolution of the Austin/Marcy relationship.
A curiosity concerning I Love You Because is that the show claims some inspiration from Pride and Prejudice. While the character names in the play are drawn in part from character names in the Jane Austen novel, the events and tone of the show are even further removed from Pride and Prejudice than those of Clueless are from Emma or those of Forbidden Planet are from The Tempest.
RCP does its usual fine job with the technical aspects of the show, the lighting design — including some striking color changes on the backdrop — being particularly notable in the production. The set is a simple one, using a single, bi-level platform onto which the actors and crew bring a series of set dressing pieces.
I’ll admit that, as I watched the show, I found myself longing for the deeper passion and higher stakes of great Broadway musical love stories like The Most Happy Fella or even lighter romantic fare with more complex and memorable scores like She Loves Me. Given today’s entertainment economy and culture, it is entirely possible that musicals of this caliber will never be written again. That is a melancholy thought, but it does not detract from the achievement of a well-crafted and performed small-scale piece like RCP’s I Love You Because.
- Austin Bennett: Joshua Redford
- Jeff Bennett: Timothy Adams
- Everyman: Terry Barr
- Everywoman: Jolene Vettese
- Diana Bingley: Evie Korovesis
- Marcy Fitzwilliams: Susanna Todd
- Reeds: Mitch Bassman
- Bass: Rick Netherton
- Drums: Bill Wolski
- Keyboard: J. Michael D’Haviland, Blakeman Brophy
- Piano/Conductor: Elisa Rosman
- Co-Producer: Daryl Hoffman
- Co-Producer: Carol Watson
- Director: Lisa Anne Bailey
- Music Director: Elisa Rosman
- Stage Manager/Assistant Director: Joan A.S. Lada
- Assistant Stage Manager: Laura Moody
- Choreography: Lisa Anne Bailey
- Set Designer: Michael Schlabach
- Costume Designer: Sam Nystrom
- Assistant Costume Designer: Ashleigh de la Torre Muldoon
- Hair/Makeup: The Cast
- Property Acquisition: Mary Jo Ford
- Props Crew: Barry Altman
- Master Carpenter: Tom Geuting
- Assisted by: William Behan
- Light Designers: Ken & Patti Crowley
- Light Operator: Tomas: Huntley
- Sound Designer: Rich Bird
- Sound Operator: Rich Claar
- Set Painting: Lisa Anne Bailey, Joan Lada, Elisa Rosman
- Set Construction: Tom Geuting, William Behan
- Running Crew: Sara Birkhead, Amanda Russell, Leslie Tanner
- Fly Woman: Laura Baughman
- Wardrobe Mistress: Mary Rankin
- Audition Pianist: Alan Margolis
- House Management: Daryl Hoffman
- Photography: David Segal
- Publicity: Lori Knickerbocker
- Playbill: Ginger Kohles
Disclaimer: Reston Community Players provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review. RCP also purchased advertising on the ShowBizRadio.net web site, which did not influence this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/7740.
Bob Ashby has been an active participant in the Washington-area community theater scene since his arrival in town in 1975.