Dare to Defy presents ‘I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change’
By Jacqui Theobald
Photo: Bobby Mitchum and Jackie Darnell get some Legal Assistance from Mackensie Vonderbrink in “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change”
Even though Valentine’s Day has passed, there is a delightful “proposal friendly” musical opening soon in Dayton. A new theatre company, Dare To Defy has a bold concept and a brave plan to begin a for-profit – they hope – theatrical opportunity for the many talented young actors in the area to provide paid professional work. It is the brainchild of Becki Norgaard. In addition, she hopes this showcase keeps them before the public, continuing to perfect their skills while earning a modest salary.
“Dare To Defy speaks to my personal motivation,” Norgaard said, “to finally just go for it. Success or failure, I wanted to live my dream instead of just wishing or talking about it. So, it is really about daring myself to defy my fears and just leap.”
The choice of “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” may be just right, as Dare to Defy steps up to a downtown venue. It has been described as a musical “Seinfeld.” Book and lyrics are by Joe DiPietro, with music by Jimmie Roberts. Definitely a crowd pleaser, it debuted in New York off-Broadway in 1996 and ran for 12 years with a record-breaking 5,003 performances. It has been an international favorite, as well.
Dare to Defy’s presentation features Jackie Darnell, Zach King, Bobbie Mitchum and Mackensie Vonderbrink. Each one plays a variety of characters, as the play is a series of vignettes that progress through “myths, truth and mating.” The actors have been well trained at Wright State University or Sinclair Community College and have performed on local stages and in other companies, including one in Wyoming.
Reflecting real life often described by light-hearted singable music are situations most everyone has experienced in dating – or will. Catchy titles give a clue to the direction of the story. There’s not much doubt with songs and scenes like “Not Tonight, I’m Busy, Busy, Busy” or “A Stud and a Babe” or “Men Who Talk and the Women Who Pretend They’re Listening.” Moving right along, the first act continues the story with “Tear Jerk,” “I Will Be Loved Tonight,” “And Now the Parents,” “I’ll Call You Soon (Yeah, Right)” and “He Called Me” followed by the finale, “Wedding Vows.”
The second act proceeds along life’s continuum from several viewpoints. There’s “Always a Bridesmaid,” “The Baby Song,” “Sex and the Married Couple,” “The Family That Drives Together,” “Shouldn’t I Be Less In Love With You?” “Funerals are for Dating,” I Can Live With That” and, finally, “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.” There are other songs and scenes along the way in each act that support the connections and the story line.
Cast member Mackensie Vonderbrink expressed great delight in working with the company. “Acting and singing so many roles has been a challenge,” Vonderbrink said. “In a good way, it has pushed me to make it real and relatable and to connect with people. The material is funny. We want to go beyond the obvious.
“It’s wonderful,” Vonderbrink added. “Such a fun work environment with some extremely passionate people. I feel honored to work with them daily.”
Dare to Defy does indeed defy all the risks of beginning a new theatrical company, but Norgaard is not only a dreamer, she is an accountant with a plan. She has saved and researched and made lists and talked to significant people. She combines practicality and the dream with a true love of the theatre and a desire to support young actors, as well as a wish to “give back” to something that has been so pleasurable in her life. Norgaard is actually fairly new to Dayton. She and her military husband chose to retire to the area only a few years ago in 2006. She became involved with Playhouse South, now serves on their board and recently directed “Hamlet” on that stage. “For a long time,” she said, “I have been thinking young people ought not have to pay for gas or lose time from a job in order to express their passion to act or be involved with good theatre.”
Before the current play, Dare to Defy had a three-month run as a once-a-week dinner theatre at Mimi’s Café at The Greene with “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.” They will also be happy to work with individuals or groups to entertain at dinner parties or perform for corporate galas.
In the not too distant future, Norgaard and company will take an even bigger leap, with performances of “Rent” scheduled for the Victoria in early September.
“I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” appeals to all, no matter what age. It offers a perspective reflecting how men and women deal with each other, what they feel and fear, what they express. It’s fun to take the ride for the first time, or muse on parts of your own life story.
Dare to Defy presents “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” on Friday, March 21 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, March 22 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. at the Mathile Theatre of the Schuster Center, 1 W. Second St. For tickets, please visit ticketcenterstage.com and click “other attractions.” For more information, please call 937.999.9949.
Reach DCP theatre critic Jacqui Theobald at JacquiTheobald@DaytonCityPaper.com.