By RITA CHARLESTON
For 21st Century Media
“I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change,” opens with previews at the Walnut Street’s Independence Studio on 3 on April 29 and continues through June 29.
The musical is presented in the form of a series of vignettes connected by the central theme of love and relationships with a four actors taking numerous roles.
According to Doylestown native Ellie Mooney, who plays one of the women, most of the scenes stand independent of the others but progress in a fashion designed to suggest an overall arc to relationships throughout the course of one’s life.
“The production features two couples — two men and two women — and we sometimes change couples around to do different sketches because each sketch can stand on its own,” Mooney says. “And each sketch is meant to depict different aspects of a relationship, like being newly married, newly divorced, having babies, all kind of situations and how people deal with each other accordingly.”
Mooney says because she and others can relate to all the situations talked about in the show is what has kept this show attracting audiences for years. In fact, premiering at New Jersey’s American Stage company in 1995, it was followed the next year by its premiere Off-Broadway, eventually ending a successful 12-year run. Showcasing the hilarity of the dating game, marriage, love and lust, the show has such universal appeal that it has been translated into many languages.
“The only difficult part of this show is that we four actors play as many as 10 to 15 characters throughout the night,“ Mooney explains. “Sometimes we play parents, sometimes the lover, so we have to be able to change gears very quickly. We need a lot of stamina to do this one, but this is my favorite kind of theater. I love playing multiple characters in one show. It’s the most challenging and the most inspiring.”
Starting out as a dancer, Mooney remembers she became serious about musical theater when she fell in love with Julie Andrews. “I was very fortunate that my parents took me to the theater all the time and I began to see how dancing could be integrated in storytelling — especially the kind of storytelling Julie Andrews was doing.”
So after just two years in college, Mooney decided to quit and head to New York to study singing and acting to widen her talents in reparation for a career in the theater. She intended to go back to college, but a successful career eventually came knocking.
My first big show was playing Dorothy in the national tour of “The Wizard of Oz,’” she says. “I was just 19 and hadn’t seen most of the country until then, so that was an extraordinary journey for me. I was on the road for nine months and had to be completely responsible for myself as well as my performance. The whole adventure taught me there’s much more to performing than just getting on the actual stage.”
It was a lesson well learned, and Mooney went on to display her talents in many ways. She was Violet and the Dance Captain for Broadway’s First National Tour of “Chitty, Chitty Bang Bang.” Off-Broadway credits include “Silent Laughter,” “Have a Heart,” and “Shake That Thing.” She’s appeared in many regional venues as well.
Additionally, Mooney has numerous director, choreographer, and teaching credits, and is a staple at the Walnut Street Theatre School.
“But when I’m on the stage I feel like I’m part of something so much bigger than I am. I love being part of a show like this which never feels like the same thing twice.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT: “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change”
WHEN: Begins with previews on April 29, opens May 1 and continues through June 29.
WHERE: Walnut Street Theatre’s Independence Studio on 3.
INFO.: Call (215) 574-3550 or check www.WalnutStreetTheatre.org.