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"I Love You Because" misses the mark

By Victoria Aronson

Section: Arts, Featured

April 19, 2013

Directed by Brian Haungs ’15, the production of “I Love You Because” presented by Tympanium Euphorium intertwined humor and the classic hardships of romance. Although the choreography and singing capabilities were mediocre, performers playing secondary roles truly stole the show.

The musical itself, “I Love You Because,” portrayed the need to cast aside any plans in pursuing love, since the act of directly searching for commitment only leads to heartache. Simultaneously projecting the ideal of falling in love unexpectedly and condemning any predetermined plans to find “the one,” the show nevertheless followed a highly predictable trajectory.

Tracing the heartaches of Marcy Fitzwilliams (Tamar Forman-Gejrot ’16) and Austin Bennet (Nick Maletta ’13), the play casts the two together initially as friends who slowly begin to fall in love. Embodying the classic notion that opposites attract, Marcy is a free-spirited, liberal soul dedicated to aiding the highly structured, rigid personality of Austin in his desperate attempts to win back the heart of his ex-girlfriend. Yet, through the process, the two inevitably fall in love.

In a moment of humor, the scene portraying the initial meeting of Marcy and Austin appealed directly to the predominantly Jewish environment at Brandeis University. Marcy’s close friend, Diana Bingley (Bethany Adam ’15) arranged for the two single women to meet two strangers at a bar through the online dating service Jdate, although none of the characters are actually Jewish. Among outbursts of laughter from the audience, Jeff Bennet (Ray Trott ’16) tore open his shirt to reveal the words Brandeis splayed across his chest.

Despite humorous moments such as these, it seemed Forman-Gejrot struggled to hit the high notes, while the chemistry between Marcy and Austin fell short in comparison to the blossoming romance between Diana and Jeff. Despite attempts to evoke a sense of sexual tension, scenes between Marcy and Austin lacked intensity and intimacy.

Intriguingly, Trott’s portrayal of Jeff Bennet only improved throughout the play, as his enthusiasm and humorous delivery of lines conveyed a sense of enthusiasm and dedication that had been lacking in the choreography.

As this was his first production, Huangs said, “I wanted to keep one main idea in mind: make people laugh. I have a strong feeling that art as a form of entertainment is often overlooked for finding deep, analyzed meaning.”

In particular, Adam delivered a standout performance, demonstrating a natural affinity for acting, which lended itself to her convincing rendition of the character Diana Bingley. Dramatizing the conflict of feelings arising in strictly friends with benefits scenarios, Adam was comical in her mathematical proofs of the amount of time necessary to rebound from a failed relationship. Her timing was precise and her embodiment of the character was truly believable, while the chemistry developing between the amusing character of Jeff and herself was clearly evident. Encapsulating sexually explicit scenes, the play incorporated humor as Jeff strained his back and was unable to be intimate with Diana without experiencing excruciating pain. Performing mathematical problems on his abacus, Jeff emerged as a truly ridiculous but lovable character.

Although the orchestra was excellent, the singing capabilities of the performers fell short in several instances, as they sought to strike notes outside of their vocal ranges. Rita Coté ’15, playing the part of a restaurant manager, possessed one of the best voices in the performance, despite her role as minor character. The set itself was well designed, depicting the brick buildings of New York. When they changed the set mid performance, however, it drew attention away from the actors on stage. It was further distracting to see members of the production moving furniture during the solo of one of the central characters.

Despite initial impressions of mediocre singing capabilities and choreography lacking enthusiasm, the musical “I Love You Because” improved as it progressed, using humor to its advantage. “Some people really just need a nice night out to have a good time, and that’s what I hoped to be able to do with this show,” Huangs said.

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