Peoria’s Arizona Broadway Theatre will help make the Valley summer heat infinitely more bearable when it opens its new production of the so very cool Off-Broadway musical lalapalooza I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change by Joe DiPetro (book and lyrics) and Jimmy Roberts (music) this coming Friday night, August 6. This crowd pleasing show has the distinction of being the second longest running Off-Broadway musical after the phenomenal forty plus year run of Schmidt and Jones’ The Fantasticks. I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change opened Off-Broadway at the Westside Theatre on August 1, 1996 and ran an incredible 5003 performances before closing on July 27, 2998.
ABT continues its Summer funfest August 13 with the opening of one of the funniest comedy farces ever written, Ken Ludwig’s Lend Me a Tenor. Both musical and play will play in classic repertory fashion, alternating performances. I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change runs through September 19 and Lend Me a Tenor runs through September 26.
Carolyn McPhee is one of the co-stars in I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. McPhee is well known to ABT audiences having appeared in Bye, Bye Birdie, Pump Boys and Dinettes, La Cage Aux Folles and Kander and Ebb’s And the World Goes ’Round. She has also been a prominent fixture in the East Valley as well, having performed in Broadway Palm’s Meet Me In St. Louis, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Honky Tonk Angels, Oliver!, Anything Goes and 42nd Street. She received an AriZoni Award nomination for her performance in Smokey Joe’s Café at Phoenix Theatre.
The Examiner recently had the pleasure of interviewing Ms. McPhee about herself and I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.
The cast of I love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change from different angle
Q: You have a solid history with ABT. Of all your many roles there, which has been your favorite to perform?
A: I have been very lucky to have been a part of Arizona Broadway Theatre. They are such very nice people here.
It’s difficult to chose. I was going to say Pump Boys and Dinettes but it’s definitely And the World Goes Round. I worked with our director Kurtis [Overby] in both those shows. I think the Kander and Ebb revue has a lot more range for us, the performers and the audience. The show has so many songs that most people had no idea were Kander and Ebb. And the World Goes Round is an all-time audience pleaser.
Q:What other local theater companies have you worked with?
A: I did Smokey Joe’s Cafe at Phoenix Theatre and I have worked a lot with the Prather Entertainment Group in Mesa [Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre] as well as Pennsylvania and Florida. Most recently, I did Meet Me in St. Louis, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Reno in Anything Goes and Honky Tonk Angels. Some of those shows have traveled and that meant I was not here when ABT was offering some great shows.
August 6 though September 19
Q:Metropolitan Phoenix is probably only surpassed by Chicago in its rich and diverse commitment to theater. If New York is first and Chicago second, the Valley’s theater companies easily place Maricopa County as third most important theater hub in the country. How has your theater work in Chicago influenced you as a performer?
A: Chicago is an amazing theater town and they definitely have and offer so many different choices. Working there helped me fine tune my craft and expand my range as an actress. Chicago theater runs the gamut from legit musical to contemporary drama and comedy to sometimes the very naughty and bizarre.
Q: Do you have any funny/odd stories about your experiences on stage anywhere?
A: I was doing Snow White in children’s theater, adults performing for kids, and the guy who played Prince Charming knelt down and kissed me. His knee was on my wig and when he lifted me up I could feel my hair sliding off my head, much the the giggling delight of all the kids and adults in the audience. It was pretty embarrassing. I was struggling to get my wig back on with everyone laughing and, yes, it was hard not to laugh.
Q: What can you tell us about performing in I Love You, You’re Perfect Now Change?
A: Our director/choreographer Kurtis is giving us great ideas. Kurtis encourages us to improvise and be crazy and try all sorts of weird stuff. It’s a lot of fun. But Kurtis is always there to reign us in to the realities of the show. We have such an amazing cast. A lot of the musical numbers may appear to be over the top, in a Saturday Night Live sort of way, but the reason why they’re really funny is that they are so relatable and true.
Q: What’s up next for you?
A: This is my ABT summer! I am also doing Lend Me a Tenor. I love farce and I love shows where the audience simply does not have all the information. With Lend Me a Tenor, no one really has a clear picture, character or audience, of what is happening and that is so much fun.
August 13 through September 26
Q: With both Lend Me a Tenor and I Love You, You’re Perfect Now Change playing in tandem how will their being in repertory work, one week on, one week off?
A: No, we’re actually mixing it up in true repertory fashion. Tenor has four shows and I Love You has four and then next, the comedy has three shows and the musical has five, etc. We will just keep mixing them up for the entire run.
Q: How difficult is it to learn two completely different parts and then play them together in repertory?
A: It’s very exciting. It’s something I have never done before. Last year, ABT did two summer musicals in Rep, Forever Plaid and The Taffetas and it was very successful.
I am the only cast member in both productions this year. I am nervous, excited and want to make certain that I give both shows 110 %.These show’s are so very different, it’s definitely going to be a challenge for me to switch back and forth.
If you missed The Examiner interview with director/choreographer Kurtis W. Overby, you will find it by clicking the link: Kurtis W. Overby speaks the language of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change opening August 6.
Graphic artwork and production photos by David Errigo Jr. courtesy of Arizona Broadway Theatre.
I love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change plays August 6-September 19.
Lend Me a Tenor plays August 13-September 26 (more to come on this great play).
For additional information regarding I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change and Lend Me a Tenor ticket availability and/or repertory performance schedule, please contact the Arizona Broadway Theatre Box Office directly, either by phone at (623) 776 8400 or ON LINE.