My friend and I went to see Angelwalk Theatre’s production of I Love You Because (ILYB), at Toronto’s Centre for the Arts.
I subscribe to the theatre’s newsletter because I know Artistic Producer Brian Goldenberg from my time playing flute at our arts high school, however I haven’t been able to attend any productions until now. I happily bought tickets (at a very reasonable $35 each) to see the show in the Studio Theatre.
ILYB is a ridiculously funny off-broadway musical presented as a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. While I’m not sure ‘retelling’ is an accurate description of the musical, there were definitely elements of her work incorporated into the story beyond the character’s names. Marcy’s confession of Love is so completely in tune with Darcy’s first proposal to Elizabeth Bennett that I couldn’t help but laugh. Also, I found Diana Bingley’s dating mathematics brilliant, and what I imagine Charlotte Lucas’ might say if she were, in fact, a modern New Yorker.
With only 6 characters, the casting is absolutely brilliant. All of the characters have an undeniable chemistry, reminiscent of the 1990’s television show Friends. The couples all work unbelievably well, whether it’s as friends, the brothers, the couples or even the barristas/bartenders. Everyone’s facial expressions were brilliant, and I was touched both by the sad moments and when the NYC man and woman (Barristas and Bartenders) got their own chance to shine in a musical number. The music itself was simply wonderful. ‘The Actuary Song’ is hysterical, ‘Just Not Now’ was heartbreaking, and ‘But I Do’ gave me chills. The vocals and the arrangements were perfect, and I though I couldn’t sing it coming out of the theatre, I remember every emotion for each piece I heard.
When we first sat down in our seats, I was already impressed with the set. A 4 level stage was set to look like multiple eclectic New York apartments, and there is even a pull out panel that doubles as either a coffee shop or a bar counter. Below the top-level of the stage a bed pulls out, where some very funny scenes take place. The set is spectacular, and they made the most of every part of it.
The musical itself is very entertaining, though the actors gave it a life beyond the script. I kept wondering if ILYB could work as a musical motion picture but I suspect that it would lose the magic of its intimacy if it went to a larger stage or on the silver screen the way Mamma Mia did in its transformation. So much if the musical relies on the 6 cast members and the intimate stage that adding more people or New York city as an actual background might take away from the moments on stage.
ILYB is playing until April 15th, and if you can get up to North York, I highly recommend getting tickets. Such a wonderful musical with such an amazing cast is worth the effort to get there and very worth the price. Go support Angelwalk Theatre and see the show!