By Brandon Burt
Utah Repertory Theater Company’s latest offering is a light and meringue of a musical. Fraught with no ponderous metaphors and devoid of any Sondheim-esque leitmotifs, i love you because is just a delightful romantic comedy filled with toe-tapping, catchy tunes — perfect for this season with love and hormones so beguilingly perfume the air.
It also signals that a Utah County invasion of Salt Lake City’s theater scene has well and truly begun. Seven of the eight cast members mention Brigham Young University in their theatrical-training bios.
Madeline Weinberger can do no wrong. Her clear, resonant soprano and magnificent expressiveness make her perfect as the female romantic lead, Marcy. Billy Hagee, as Austin, plays valiantly against Weinberger’s exquisite beauty.
Twla Spittle and Johnny Wilson are hilarious in character roles as various quirky New Yorkers, and Jordan Hall is adorable as Diana. The cavernous Murray Theater does have odd acoustics, so some of the brilliant lyrics in “The Actuary Song” unfortunately are lost in the reverb. Still, the venerable old space does offer interesting potential for staging; designer Casey Price made some innovative decisions, placing the orchestra at center stage while the action takes place in the orchestra pit and on either side of the proscenium.
And now that Utah Rep has moved into its historic digs, it’s clear that the Utah County invasion is a good thing for local aficionados of musical theater. The opportunity to see a group of attractive, talented young people who obviously love the genre is wonderfully satisfying.