Capsule Reviews

I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change! If only love trouble were as simple as Joe DePietro and Jimmy Roberts imagine it to be in their hugely popular musical revue I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change! The amusing bauble of a production now running at Stages Repertory Theatre gives us a sitcom-style world where men think Caddy Shack is the best film ever and women can't seem to find a decent guy to date. The fluffy show is certainly energetic enough to account for its likability; the music breezes happily along for two hours without ever getting bogged down by, say, depth of thought or original ideas -- which is perfectly fine, given the temperature outside. Structured around the rituals of courtship, the revue features four performers who play multiple roles as they march through the inevitable stages of love. Broadly speaking, Act I deals with the journey from dating to wedding, while Act II takes on the challenges presented by marriage. The play is a narrative in only the loosest sense of the word. There are no real characters, just songs. Despite a few potholes, the show is, most of all, easy and fun. And while the play says nothing new (or even all that true) about marriage or love, it certainly makes for a pleasant diversion. Through September 12. 3201 Allen Parkway, 713-527-0123.

Tamalalia 9 We could all use a blue spandex "superpower fear-fighting suit" like the one Tamarie Cooper sports in Tamalalia 9. It's cool! But cool is standard issue from the Tamalalia series, the silly summer confection devoted to the strange inner life of Cooper. No. 9 delivers so many laughs, it's hard not to forgive the show's creators for their unusually timid approach to the subject at hand, namely fear and the crazy things it makes us do. Great numbers abound. One of the funniest is "The Vampire's Folk Dance," performed by the company's wildest clown, Kyle Sturdivant. But the real showstopper is "Physical Ed," about Tamarie's horror of gym class. Jeff Miller, Tek Wilson and Sturdivant play PE bullies from Tamarie's past who return for a rematch. The contest is run by Coach Gascamp (a wicked Noel Bowers), who delights in referring to Tamarie as "Mamarie Pooper." But near the top of Act II, the show starts to go south. Things are promising at first: The entire cast sings "Culture of Fear," and everything from the government to the media to mad cow disease comes up. But just as the show seems to be moving into some timely stuff, Tamarie stops it, declaring she doesn't know where to go from here. This familiar shtick -- it's been used in other Tamalalias -- is disappointing. Truthfully, the script writers haven't backed themselves into a hole at all. Indeed, they've suddenly moved into a landscape rich with potential. But Tamarie claims she's afraid of getting too serious and worried about offending her audience -- some of whom might be Republicans! In the end it's fear, the very thing this show sets out to conquer, that gets the best of Tamalalia 9. Through August 28 at the Axiom, 2524 McKinney, 713-522-8443.

Vagabondage Improv Comedy Troupe Vagabondage shows feature both games and long-form improv, giving the troupe an edge on both ComedySportz and Main Street Improv, which just do the standard 90 minutes of game-playing. Games played by practically every troupe in town -- like Three-Headed Oracle and Chain Murder -- aren't Vagabondage's strongest points. To be honest, nobody plays Three-Headed Oracle better than ComedySportz (but they call it Dr. Know-It-All). C-Sportz's tightness and polish with the game is stunning. And Main Street Improv's Chain Murder (which they call Murder Chain) is more fun. Vagabondage's live game show, the Blank Game, features the players as a panel of celebrity guests and audience members as contestants. The game requires a good-sized crowd, and there aren't always enough volunteers to make this portion of the show happen. No matter -- more time for long form, which is where Vagabondage shines. This type of improv could begin with a query like, "Name a childhood toy," which might lead, say, to vignettes about the troupe members' childhoods. Here, the cast -- especially Melissa Keller and host Randy Matthews -- consistently performs with zeal and originality. Every Saturday night upstairs at PJ's, 614 West Gray, 832-651-7814.

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Eric A.T. Dieckman
Lee Williams