On March 30th, 2013, I attended Utah Repertory Theater Company’s production of I Love You Because, for a second time. Upon my first viewing, there were several difficulties with the venue which made it challenging to fully experience the show. Utah Repertory Theater Company was kind enough to invite me back after these kinks had been worked out. I am very grateful that they extended that invitation, as my second experience with the show was entirely different from my first. Serious work had been done to correct the lighting, sound, and seating issues, making it much easier to enjoy the performance. The wonderful talent and enthusiasm onstage created an infectiously upbeat atmosphere from the first entrance to the final bow.
A palpable energy amongst the ensemble was evident from the very first song. The actors beautifully painted the mayhem of “Another Saturday Night in New York” as they danced their way through the space and set the scene for the action soon to take place. The intensely focused and humorously tragic style of storytelling that way employed put a smile on every audience member’s face as they eagerly followed the many tears and triumphs of Austin, Marcy, Jeff, and Diana. This was all the more enjoyable to watch, as meticulous attention had been paid to diction and balance throughout.
The actors were believable and heartwarming, yet also impressively clear and concise. This would seem to be a difficult task, as they were burdened with bringing relatable characters to life in an extraordinary and comical way. However, the cast did a wonderful job with line delivery and diction, making it seem strangely ordinary for a group of friends to break out into song mid-thought. Jordan Hall (Diana Bingley) did an exceptional job maintaining clear diction, especially in her “Speed Test” type number, actually titled “The Actuary Song”. She found a witty way of making the arbitrarily mathematical seem rational and bringing arithmetic into a conversation about love.
I was also quite impressed with the balance that had been brought to the show this time around. Where I had previously felt like minor roles overshadowed the main action onstage, I now found myself without distractions during important dialogue, yet giggling out of my seat during beats or scene changes. Twyla Spittle (NYC Woman #2) and Johnny Wilson (NYC Man #2) brought an array of hilarious characters to life, while maintaining their places as supporting roles. I was especially entertained by “The Perfect Romance”, which the two sung as wacky baristas. They humorously performed a beautiful metaphor as they literally and figuratively set the scene for the action that was about to unfold.
A huge nod to Billy Hagee (Austin Bennet) and Madeline Weinberger (Marcy Fitzwilliams) is also needed, as their comedic banter was perfectly timed and delivered. The duo provided laugh after laugh as they convinced the audience they were terribly suited to one another, followed by many teary eyes as they struggled with the realization that they were inextricably in love with one another. Their performance of “…But I Don’t Want to Talk About Her” kept me giggling throughout, as I watched a blind date that was destined to fail. However, it was nearly impossible to keep a dry eye only a few songs later as Marcy sang Austin the devastating words “Just Not Now”.
In summary, I love Utah Repertory Theater Company because they worked tirelessly to make a good show great and provide the best possible experience to the audience. They staged a show that I can love not in spite of its faults, but because of them. It takes a lot of heart and soul to continue re-working a show night after night, but these guys don’t quit until it is the best it can be. They truly impressed me and I’m likely to visit them again. I would definitely recommend this show to a friend and hope that they have a full house for closing night- April 5th, 2013.