Presented by Emma Knights Productions
Reviewed 19 June 2018 (Final Dress Rehearsal)
It’s a bit bleak at the moment and finding something to cheer you up on a cold night is always a bonus. I Love You Because is a really cute, and clever, Off Broadway show which has been around a while and, just like our own version of off Broadway, The Goodwood Institute, you can’t keep a good thing in the dark.
Written by Ryan Cunningham and Joshua Salzman I Love You Because was first performed off Broadway in 2006 and is as relevant and pithy today as when it first saw the light of day. It’s referenced as a show based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and its characters have as much charm and personality as the characters in Miss Austen’s novel, which has also endured for a considerable time. It also has a touch of Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice about it (for those of you who remember the 80’s) as the characters all seem to have the ability to forensically examine each other’s relationships and give seemingly good advice with disastrous results. Perfect plot device!
From the witty and fast opening (Another Saturday Night) to the romantic and engaging finale (I Love you Because) the show is full of clever and intelligent songs that demand the 6 protagonists know how to work a song and an audience. Director Megan Doherty has allowed her talented cast to find the measure of each song and allowed them to move artfully through the story of four people falling in and out of love in the rat race that is New York. They have found just the right balance of pride and prejudice to ensure we get a ride through the journey of their relationships that is funny, intelligent, moving and just what makes an off Broadway 6 hander musical worth the trip out on a cold night, enhanced by some finely integrated choreography from Alana Shepherdson which adds polish and pizzazz to the show.
Josh Barkley’s Austin is just the right amount of dorky to make his performance a highlight of the evening. He is really able to nuance the acting and bring his songs to life with believable integrity. James Nicholson’s voice is a gift and his hammy Jeff gives us a laugh or two balanced by some very challenging moments in the second half. Stefanie Rossi is a bright and sassy presence from the moment she appears on stage and is right there all night at just the right pitch and pace for the show. Her Actuary song is a highlight as is her ability to go from humour to pathos at the drop of a hat. Charles Smith and Serena Martino-Williams as the New York man and woman add variety and humour in their several supporting roles. The vital support roles are often filled by not so sure-footed talent, but these two performers are punchy, clear and bright and both have really great Broadway style vocal ability. Finally, Cailene Kilcoyne’s American background gives her all the chutzpah to shine in her role as Marcy. Her vocal ability is made for an off Broadway role of this magnitude. It is demanding, intelligent, humorous and emotionally challenging and she rose to the challenge and then some. It’s a tour de force of a performance that is really memorable.
As with every Emma Knights’ show the talent is fresh, the band is tight and supportive and makes some pretty awesome sounds for four humans buried under the stage, and the venue is just right. The Goodwood Institute really does have that off Broadway feel about it and fits in with Emma’s focus towards making every Emma Knights’ production an immersive experience. It’s a unique theatre full of charm and it always feel like you are welcome when you walk in through the front door. It’s truly a people’s theatre full of charm and history.
As with every final rehearsal there were a couple of slow changes; these will speed up as the show gains momentum and a full house to help with some vigorous applause will fill some of the gaps. It’s worth a trip out to see this charming show. It is full of humour, vitality and some very good songs.
Reviewed by Adrian Barnes
Venue: Goodwood Institute
Season: Weds 20th to Saturday 23rd 7.45pm – 10.15pm Sat 23rd and Sunday 24th 2.00pm – 4.20pm
Duration: 2 hours with a 20 minute interval
Tickets: $36 – $40