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Wednesday, February 15,2012

Stages of the heart

Six actors serve up 20 varieties of love at LCC

by Tom Helma

Up close and personal, in your face and immediate—the Black Box stage at Lansing Community college, one of the most intimate theater spaces in town, is the perfect venue for a tender play about love and its eccentricities over time.

A full house of appreciative patrons braved the Friday night mini-blizzard to check out this pre-Valentine’s Day romp. “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” is less a play than a series of clever relationship vignettes. Led by the Lansing theater community’s newest loving couple, Emily English Clark and Gordon Clark, this play consists of an ensemble of just six people playing multiple parts. Lansing Community College students Miranda Amy, Devin Fraught, Scott Laban and Meghan Malusek round out a comic sextet that delights the audience throughout the production.

With 20 separate scenarios to choose from, some are charming and excellent and none fail to entertain. An early favorite of the audience was “A Stud and a Babe,” in which Miranda Amy and Scott Laban display the nerdy characteristics of a couple that are anything but a stud and a babe. Amy and Laban are singers who can act and actors who can sing.

A bit later, Meghan Malusek teams with Amy in close harmony to sing convincingly of a “Single Man Drought.” Later, Scott Laban breaks hearts, reflecting on love that endures into mid-life, with the tender solo “Shouldn’t I Be Less in Love With You.”

Emily English Clark wins the contest for capturing the quirkiness of various oddball older women, costumed creatively and adapting accents to each unique character. Her show-ending duet with Gordon Clark, “I Can Live With That,” puts a gentle spin on elder love. Devin’s plaintive solo,” Waiting,” about a husband waiting impatiently for his wife while she shops, was balanced adroitly by Malusek’s “waiting for the last 32 interminable seconds of a football game to end” so she could finally talk to her husband.

Clark and Clark, both veterans of many theatrical performances, are maturing into quite capable, versatile character actors. As to the younger foursome, each of them had both vigorous singing voices and superior acting skills.

Overall, this was a balanced and enjoyable presentation of the stages and ages of love, despite a needless distraction or two. A trio of winged cupids served as both an annoying running crew and vacuous comic relief. Set designer Fred Engelgau’s circus-colored set of dolphin blue, U-M yellow and Jeep Patriot maroon was a garish backdrop for the proceedings, but the closeness of the action, the clarity of the singing voices, and the fine comic acting overcame that distraction.

‘I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change’

Through Feb. 18

Lansing Community College Black Box Theatre

Room 168, Gannon Building

411 N. Grand Avenue

8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays

$10; $5 seniors, students, LCC faculty, staff and alumni

(517) 483-1488

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