To Sequim, with love

OTA’s road to Valentine’s starts with ‘I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change’

Pizza brothers James Willis and Joel Yelland join Sheenieka Dolan in the song “He Called Me” as part of Olympic Theatre Arts’ “I Love You

A love story for and through the ages may sum up “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.”

The funny and sometimes sad realities of relationships come to Olympic Theatre Arts, 414 N. Sequim Ave., through song and dance starting with a champagne reception on Jan. 30 and running through Valentine’s Day weekend.

Pat Owens directs Joe Di Pietro and Jimmy Roberts’ play, which he says breaks into two acts; the first being about the relationships leading up to marriage and the second act is marriage and beyond.

Four actors – Leona Voss, Sheenieka Dolan, James Willis and Joel Yelland – take on a cast of 14 characters each and 56 costume changes led by stage manager Steve Schultz.

Owens has worked intricately on the play for almost a year despite no prior knowledge of it.

“A friend of mine told me about it and I wasn’t interested in directing,” he said. “Before I could get a script, I listened to a song on iTunes and it was that good of a song that here I am now.”

Music director Valerie Lape leads a small group of musicians, pianist Steven Humphrey, violinist Leah Marsh and bassist Carl Honoré. They sit center stage with set pieces and actors surrounding them.

“(‘I Love You’) is hysterically funny and delightful with such a variety of styles,” Lape said. “Actors are doing a most excellent job of adapting to all the characters.”

For audiences, Lape said there’s something that can reach anyone.

“The stories and songs convey something that everybody can relate to,” she said. “That’s what struck me.”

Owens said there are two scenes that stand out to him toward the end — “Shouldn’t I be less in love with you?” and “Funerals are for dating.”

“(For ‘Funerals’), it’s the song that will have the audience laughing and in tears,” he said.

“In ‘Shouldn’t I be less in love with you,’” he (Yelland) sings to his wife all the reasons he shouldn’t be with her, but in the end he still loves her. The whole show is like that with little moments that are hilarious and other moments where they are really moved.”

 

Labor of love

While there are only four cast members, Owens said the show turned out to be much more complicated than anticipated.

“It seems so simple on the surface but in order to perform the magic it takes so many people in the background,” he said. “There are almost 30 people in the background. It’s a real massive undertaking.”

One scene involves Willis and Yelland as pizza chefs singing and dancing and in the next scene Yelland must quickly become a state prisoner.

“He’s got a real quick change there,” Owens said. “Dressers work back stage so that they can make the quick change.”

Since its inception, “I Love You” has been huge off-Broadway but Owens said he hasn’t seen a live production elsewhere on purpose.

“I try not to (see other versions),” he said. “It lets me use my own approach without other stuff unconsciously coming in.”

For those, like Lape, who may have seen the play before, Owens said his approach to making the play feel original to Sequim resides with the actors.

“I try to get them to put as much of themselves into this,” he said.

Owens particularly raves about newcomer Dolan, who he said had never auditioned before.

“I’m not sure what prompted her to audition but I’m glad she did,” he said.

For more information, call 683-7326, visit olympictheatrearts.org or facebook.com/olympictheatrearts.

 

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

Where: Olympic Theatre Arts, 414 N. Sequim Ave.

When: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Jan. 30-31*, Feb. 6-7, 13-14, 2 p.m. Sundays Feb. 1, 8, 15

Preview night: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 29 $10, free for members

Pay-what-you-will: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 5.

*Champagne reception follows opening night Jan. 30.

More info/tickets: Visit or call the box office 1-5 p.m. weekdays, call 683-7326 or visit www.olympictheatrearts.org.

 

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