Philippine theater

In era of dating apps and situationships, REP stages ‘I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change’

Mika Geronimo

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In era of dating apps and situationships, REP stages ‘I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change’

MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN. Local theater’s renowned talents like Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, Stephen Viñas, Cara Barredo, and Ejay Yatco make up the production’s creative team.

Mika Geronimo/Rappler

The Philippine run of the comedy musical is about the love lives of 40 individuals, played by a 4-member cast - Gian Magdangal, Gabby Padilla, Krystal Kane, and Marvin Ong

MANILA, Philippines – Fresh off their rendition of Harold Pinter’s critically acclaimed play Betrayal, Repertory Philippines (REP) is back with I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, their second installment for the busy 2024 season. 

With book and lyrics written by Joe DiPietro and music by Jimmy Roberts, the musical made its Off-Broadway debut in 1996.

Twelve years and 5,003 performances later, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change became the second longest-running Off-Broadway production. REP’s local take on the musical marks the second time the material has been staged before a Filipino audience since 2006, with theater veteran Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo set to direct.

SNIPPETS OF LOVE. I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change’s official poster. Repertory Philippines

With an impressive cast, an amusing title, and relevant subject matter, here’s what audiences can expect from REP’s upcoming musical revue.

Vignettes of modern relationships

Through a string of standalone scenes and songs, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change is “a series of hilarious yet achingly familiar vignettes on connection and intimacy, commitment and loneliness.” The musical tackles the reality behind the many faces, ages, and settings linked to modern relationships through mere glimpses into the lives of a whopping 40 individuals.

Admittedly much has changed in theater and the dating scene since the musical’s Off-Broadway run and its Philippine premiere. To accommodate these shifts, REP will be staging the revised 2018 version of the musical, which holds a few lyric rewrites and song changes that help make the story more contemporary. 

FIRST LADY OF PHILIPPINE THEATER. Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo talks about REP’s exciting plans for the 2024 theater season. Mika Geronimo/Rappler

In the show’s media launch on Thursday, May 16, Lauchengco-Yulo shared that the creative team challenged themselves to depart from their comfort zones by making the story “more current” and “geared for the audiences of today” but without altering the original material. This means making the show more purposive in its storytelling and “visually interesting.”

“My opening is completely different from how it was staged in the past. Hope it works,” she said. 

While previous iterations tend to rely on stereotypes, caricatures, and comic relief to drive their narratives home, Lauchengco-Yulo said that it took them “lots of experimenting” to arrive at a healthy middle ground between truth and theatrics.

TOUGH LOVE. Gian Magdangal and Krystal Kane perform ‘I Can Live With That’ where their elderly characters take a chance on romance. Mika Geronimo/Rappler

“What’s important is you have to come out of a scene and say, ‘Oh my god, I felt that, I know that feeling,’ rather than just laughing for the sake of laughing.”

Musical director Ejay Yatco also explained that the 2018 version opted to swap violins, bass, and pianos for more modern-sounding electric guitars, electric bass, and drums.

However, the show ultimately tests the acting chops of principal cast members Krystal Kane, Marvin Ong, Gabby Padilla, and Gian Magdangal, who will be stepping into the shoes of multiple characters. Davy Narciso and Barbara Jance will also be joining the four as swings. 

From mastering the music to timing to quick changes, Kane spoke about the process behind assuming their roles.

“It’s very challenging to play so many different characters, especially with the age range [in mind]. To play the characters, but at the same time, play them truthfully,” Kane said. “So how do you find the truth in it, without overplaying it?”

THEATER’S BACKBONE. The musical’s dedicated swings Davy Narciso and Barbara Jance. Mika Geronimo/Rappler

For Narciso, the swing tasked to learn both Ong and Magdangal’s tracks, the challenge veers more to the technical than artistic aspect. “You have to know what you’re going to say before you say it, not just how to say it or how to play it,” he explained.

“At the end of the day, I always tell them, ‘These are real people,’ no matter how absurd some of them are,” Lauchencgo-Yulo also shared. 

Highly-awaited comebacks

Most of the show’s cast members will be making an overdue comeback to the stage. For actor and history teacher Marvin Ong, the project marks his first theater role in 10 years. 

WHEN THE CURTAIN CALLS. Singer-songwriter and educator Marvin Ong returns to REP since Sweeney Todd in 2009. 

“I felt the tug was very strong. Not just because I want to do theater again, but [it’s] also the material that’s very intriguing,” Ong said, sharing that it was also the ease he felt with his cast mates that made him say “yes” to the musical. 

Reeling from the success and anticipation of projects like Gitling, Secret Ingredient, and Kono Basho, long-time REPper Gabby Padilla returns to her theater roots in I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. “Like Marvin, it was also Tita Menchu who got me to say yes. We all want to work with her.”

SCREEN TO STAGE. Gabby Padilla makes her theater comeback after starring in several acclaimed films and series. Mika Geronimo/Rappler

For Lauchengco-Yulo, who was trained under REP since 1998, rekindling ties with the company was a no-brainer. Her last directorial work with REP was in 2013 – she has since worked mostly at Newport World Resorts’ Full House Theater Company as its co-artistic director.

”It’s really like you go off to college and you come back and you’re home. It’s that sort of feeling. And nothing changes, it really doesn’t,” she shared.

Alongside Lauchengco-Yulo and Yatco, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change boasts equally exceptional names in its creative team, like assistant director Cara Barredo, set and costume designer Joey Mendoza, projector graphics and video designer GA Fallarme, lighting designer Meliton Roxas, choreographer Stephen Viñas, and sounds designer Aji Manalo.

MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN. Local theater’s renowned talents like Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, Stephen Viñas, Cara Barredo, and Ejay Yatco make up the production’s creative team. Mika Geronimo/Rappler
Love in all of its mess and beauty

Amid a chaotic and trying era of situationships, dating apps, and ghosting, REP says I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change couldn’t be any more relatable and timely today.

When asked what audiences who grew accustomed to such a dating scene can expect from the musical, Padilla told Rappler, “What this story tells you, I think in every scenario, in all the love troubles you may have, no matter how strange, different, how unconventional you may believe yourself to be, you will find a person and you will connect with them, and love is universal in that way.”

For Ong, it’s that no love is perfect, yet it is a “primordial human feeling” one can’t help but come back to. “There’s always going to be adjustments on both ends, compromise on both ends.”

“If Gen Z watches the shows, they’re going to find some moments in the show they could relate to, but you could also have an old couple come to the show and relate to some scenes,” said Kane. “I think that’s what makes this show so beautiful and at the same time, kind of timeless, because love is timeless.”

Magdangal, for his part, said: “I guess that’s what love is, it’s a lot of finding and discovering yourself, and in effect, each other.”

“Who knows, you might find that person when you watch this,” she added, teasing that watching the show could also make for a good date idea.

HEART TO HEART. The cast reflects on their own experiences with love during the media launch. Mika Geronimo/Rappler

Apart from I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, Lauchengco-Yulo also revealed that REP’s offerings for the latter half of the season will highlight Filipino storytelling through new children’s musical Jepoy and The Magic Circle, which will launch the company’s new home in Eastwood City, and Going Home to Christmas, their first original Filipino musical featuring the festive catalog of Jose Mari Chan. 

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change will run from June 14 to July 6 at the RCBC Plaza’s  Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium in Makati City. Tickets are available at Ticket2Me and official showbuyers. –

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