There are so many stories that are centered on love and dating. Stage West’s production of I love you because is just about that, complete with rules to follow when dating, musical numbers that outline everything from being friends with benefits to having a perfect romance.
The musical tells of an uptight greeting card writer Austin (Daniel Abrahamson) who just caught his girlfriend Catherine cheating on him, but he wants her back. But his brother Jeff (Jay Davis) advises him to to move on and Catherine will want him back. So they go online and find recently broken up Marcy (Steffi Didomenicantonio) who is looking for Mr. Wrong, because once she find him, she’ll immediately find Mr. Right according to her friend Diana (Blair Irwin). Austin and Marcy don’t exactly hit it off and Jeff and Diana make an arrangement of being friends with benefits.
This production is the kind of musical that you know what will happen as soon as the main character meet. You know that the story is going to end in a happy ending. And that would be okay if the musical featured charming, compelling characters, who are true to life and complex. But this isn’t the case with I love you because. Every character in the musical is predictable and their interactions with each other are inauthentic. Their motivation and characteristics are off. When Marcy and Austin meet for the first time, he spend most of the conversation talking about his ex and she even points it out. But this doesn’t stop her from pursuing a relationship with him under the guise that she’s looking for Mr. Wrong anyway. Diana and Jeff act like a healthy committed couple throughout most of the first half of the play, but then sing a song about being friends with benefits. There are no sparks or chemistry between the characters, so its seems odd that they declare their love for each other in the second half.
The actors babble their lines off, devoid of emotionality, but their singing is pretty strong. Lindsey Frazier, who played a waitress in the bar, amongst other character pulled off her solos quite well, while Didomenicantonio wavered a bit in some of her songs. The play is made slightly more better by an innovative set design by Scott Penner, with a bed that tucks away mechanically and a bar that swings around to become a cafe bar. Lighting design by Ian Martens is also very well done, changing colour to match what’s unfolding on stage.
I love you because is a modern day musical love story that needs a lot of work to become a love story we can really become engaged with.
I love you because runs at Stage West Theatre until November 10th. More information is available online.