Birder Players perform in relationship-focused revue
By Janelle Fisher
City Pages Editor
The Birder Players will take the stage this weekend and next weekend in their latest production of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change — the longest running off-Broadway revue in history — at Broadway Theatre in De Pere.
Unlike most shows which follow one set of characters on one plot for the duration of the performance, Michelle Oren, the show’s director, said I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change involves more than 20 shorter stories, each with their own set of characters.
“There’s not like a main through line,” she said. “It’s not like there’s six different characters and every character stays the same character through the entire show. Everybody plays different characters in each scene… It’s like 23 Saturday Night Live sketches, and they’re all about relationships.”
Oren said playing a new character in every scene poses an interesting challenge for the actors involved, both on and off stage.
“You’re basically doing 23 mini shows, but all in one succession,” she said. “I’ve always said we should almost sell tickets backstage and have people watch the back of the theater and what’s happening… because of course these actors are working so hard to change characters and change costumes and have 15 seconds to be somebody else. As an actor it’s a challenge because you’ve got to be on your toes and be ready to morph into that next character. It’s a great challenge for actors and it’s also a lot of fun.”
According to Oren, the cast has risen to the challenge and learned to play their characters as over the top as intended while still holding space for the more emotional, reflective moments in the show.
“They’ve risen to the challenge of becoming [their characters],” she said, “What I’ve found is they’re maybe holding back a little bit and I’ll be like ‘just take it and go as far as you can with it and then I’ll tell you if it’s too far…’ Because they’re doing so many characters, I think they’re like ‘woah, that character is kind of over the top,’ and I’m like ‘okay, let’s find that balance between the over the top character versus one that’s a little more tender.’ I would say the score and the script are written so well that there’s moments the writers have given the audience to sort of stop laughing and just kind of be a little bit more reflective. [The show] kind of moves in a way that ebbs and flows through sort of an emotional track, but it’s just the funniest.”
Oren said the first act of the show focuses on the beginnings of relationships — and the beginning of time.
“We kind of start in monk robes, you know, ‘in the beginning…’” she said. “And then it goes through Adam and Eve and Eve saying ‘well, I’d rather see other people’ and Adam says ‘there are no other people.’ It’s just making fun of sort of the whole idea of ‘okay, well, that’s who I am gonna date, right?’ And then it goes into this next series of coming up on a first date and what it’s like to get ready for your first date — putting on deodorant and making sure your butt doesn’ look big. And then it moves on to a series of about seven different first date scenarios — the powerhouse business couple that are trying to date but they don’t have a lot of time so they speed this up a little bit and the kind of nerdy couple that is dating — and it goes through all these series of different dating scenarios which are so relatable to everybody… and they’re just hilarious.”
Contributing to the hilarity of the show, Oren said, are the over-the-top depictions of relatable dating scenarios.
“It’s all these little vignettes depicting sort of the extremes of dating,” she said. “When you think of an SNL skit, you think of the extreme, right? They make it just funny and over the top and that’s exactly what [this show] does. It leaves the audience just constantly laughing and sort of poking fun at the experience of finding love and looking for the right person.”
Moving into the second act, Oren said the show focuses more on life and relationships after dating, and even after marriage.
“At the end of the first act, of course, there’s a wedding,” she said. “So we’ve finally arrived. One of these couples ends up getting married. And then the second act starts with hopping into their honeymoon. The series of vignettes that happen in the second act are obviously now post-married, or in some cases post-divorce, and it’s going through, again, just the life and love and being in love in a marriage or recently getting divorced. The final sort of love scene is two widowed 70-plus-year-olds who are at a funeral, and the 70-year-old man is trying to pick up the 70-year-old woman. So it just kind of goes full circle. There’s never a time when you can’t find love, right? Whether it’s in your youth or whether it’s later in life, whether it’s post-divorce, there’s always some hope for a relationship. And if you’re lost in love or unlucky in love, you can certainly look at this and relate to just sort of all the dating experiences.”
Those hoping to catch a performance of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change can visit birderonbroadway.org/upcomingperformances for more details and to purchase tickets.