I Love You Because - Theatre Review

A review by Suzanne Birrell.

As a person who really likes Jane Autin's writings and musicals, I was excited to see I Love You Because produced by After Hours Theatre Company now playing at the Hudson Backstage Theatre because it was billed as Pride and Prejudice meets modern day New York. Nope.The Pride and Prejudice connection totally eluded me. That aside, if you go in without that expectation, you'll find a romantic light-hearted modern day musical love story featuring some stellar performances.

The story centers around an uptight generic greeting card writer, (Austin) who meets a living-in-the-moment photographer (Marcy) who is looking for Mr. Totally Wrong before she can move onto Mr. Right. Austin's older brother Jeff  is a believer of friendship with perks and advises his recently broken-hearted brother to play the field and avoid the phrase "I Love You." Marcy's friend Diana gives the same advice to Marcy while struggling to maintain her own distance of friendship (but with perks) with not so suave and debonair but totally real Jeff .

(Right: Austin MacPhee & Aly French.)

Austin, the romantic lead, played by Austin MacPhee was a vocal standout because his clear tenor voice was able to cut through the band which was too loud. The part of Jeff, the comic lead, was played with verve and vigor by Nick Bredosky. As a Baritone, he tended to blend and it was difficult to understand the words of his songs, however, his high energy coupled with the choreographed moves made his performance very fun to watch. Marcy, the romantic lead played by Aly French, had an easy to listen to soprano voice but it was hard to understand a lot of what she sang. Diana, comic lead was fun to watch but difficult to hear. One of her best songs - The Actuary Song- was right in front of the band which totally overwhelmed- but the tidbits we could hear made us long for more. She obviously had a command of the music coupled with comic timing.

(Left: Nick Bredosky & Shelley Regner)

Shelley Regner, Harrison Meloeny, Aly French, and Ressa Marie singing  "What We Do It For." Photos by Bryan Carpender.

Playing all other roles from Chinese cook to Southern Delivery Boy were Harrison Meloeny and Ressa Marie. They almost stole the show partly because the band did not play through most of their lines and we could hear them. Moeloeny's facial expressions were something to look forward as he milked each character for all it was worth.  Marie's Chinese Restaurant Manager was hysterically funny.

The music was not memorable although some of the orchestrations were very nice.  We didn't leave the theatre humming any tunes although the performances of But I do and What do We do It For were worth the wait.

The Hudson Backstage Theatre with its brick walls is a difficult one to stage a musical in. The band members led by Elmo Zapp were all accomplished performers but at a grave disadvantage in their setup along the wall. With the Bass at one end of the lineup and the Drums at the other, they never quite got in the pocket with each other.  The production could do themselves a huge favor by bringing in a Sound Designer, an often underappreciated theatre professional who can optimize sound set-up, sometimes by just moving speakers around.

I Love You Because

plays Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays thru August 7

Hudson Backstage Theatre

6539 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles.


Posted By Suzanne Birrell on July 26, 2016 01:52 pm | Permalink