I Love You Because sweetens Valentine's Day at a price

REVIEW: Not Another Theater Company's production provides laughs and warmth with intimate audience.

In the second show of their third season, Not Another Theater Company brings I Love You Because to the Locker Room stage.  The dinner-and-a-show experience caters to valentine couples that want to share a humorous, light-hearted night together.  That is, if you want to spend $25 per person—and that doesnt include the dinner.

Its an interesting take on Valentines Day entertainment.  Most everything geared toward this holiday includes built-in price inflation, but the show seems to treat the sentiment with cheek— it mocks the sappy, romantic love story, but at a sappy, romantic price.  Its not that the show isnt worth seeing, its just a hefty price.

I Love You Because was written as a modern take on Jane Austens Pride and Prejudice, but the similarities between the two plots are hard to identify.  Theyre both love stories.  But that seems about it.  After recent break ups for both Marcy and Austin, they meet on a blind date and decide to just be friends, while Marcy helps Austin observe the appropriate gestures and timing to win back his ex.  The accompanying comic duo, Diana and Jeff, support their friends while also trying to follow the rebound timeline detailed by Diana at the beginning of the musical.  Everyone veers from the socially accepted path, and ends up loving their partner because theyre not the prescribed answer, not despite it.  Awww.

Alex Cupelo plays Austin, the straight-laced greeting-card writer, who slowly falls in love with spontaneous Marcy, played by Kasey McHale.  They didnt mesh especially well—the banter would have been more at ease if it had been quicker—and its hard to believe in McHales unstructured personality.  But the two were well prepared and have good Broadway voices.

Jennifer Pearson and Maxwell Anderson (Diana and Jeff) are a more interesting couple, with humorous timing and convincing, if unexpected, chemistry.  Imagine a grown-up Screech (of Saved By the Bell fame) matched with Karen Walker before she met Will & Grace.  Funny, right?  Pearson exhibited great rhythmic skill in The Actuary Song, and connected well with the audience; who wouldnt want her as your friend?  Andersons comic relief was genuine and executed with gusto, and though his voice isnt especially suited for the musical sound, its a nice voice.

The stage is tiny and makes choreography almost impossible, even with a small cast of 7, but the set design and use of space were well done.  With a cubed, grey-scale city line in the background, a few well-placed boxes or stools acted as furniture in a number of apartments and restaurants. Director Meghan Pearson did a great job with what she had.

The sound design was a little strange.  All cast members were suited with microphones, despite the small audience.  There were feedback problems when singers belted—which was practically every other line—not to mention the three distracting pieces of tape on each of their faces, holding the wire in place.  This cast could certainly reach the ears of all audience members in this venue without the help of mics. 

Though the show is overpriced, whatever you choose to do this Valentines Day probably will be, so if you and your honey-bunny are interested in something relaxed, I Love You Because is a pleasant, funny evening.


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