Various Artists - I Love You Because (Modern Day Musical) (Music CD)

Release Date: 17 January 2011
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Austin Bennet, the leading male character of lyricist/librettist Ryan Cunningham and composer Joshua Salzman's musical I Love You Because, is a greeting-card writer, which perhaps helps to excuse the clich‚d way he expresses himself at the outset of the show. Oddly, he is also a straight-laced, suit-and-tie-wearing Republican, and that makes him an unlikely romantic companion for Marcy Fitzwilliams, a photographer with a more impulsive nature. In addition, both have recently come to the end of romantic relationships, making them hesitant to start again, especially with someone so different from themselves. Such is the show's central conflict, one that annotator David Hirst calls "a modern twist on" Pride and Prejudice, although, in fact, the only things it has in common with the too frequently adapted Jane Austen novel are the "opposites attract" theme and some character names. The key number is "The Actuary Song," in which Marcy's friend Diana Bingley explains with mathematical (and fanciful) precision why she should wait six months before embarking on another relationship. Like an article from Cosmopolitan set to music, it helps set up the "just friends" relationship she undertakes with Austin; Diana, on the other hand, strikes up a "friends with benefits" liaison with Austin's brother Jeff. It all ends in the modern equivalent of wedding bells, i.e., "committed" relationships, but not before some ups and downs leading to a realization on the part of all four lovers that the romantic ideal must give way to an actual person who must be loved because of, not in spite of perceived imperfections. Cunningham and Salzman pursue this well-worn story with music that recalls both traditional Broadway show music and early-'60s pop styles, as filtered through Billy Joel. Cunningham's lyrics are written in American slang, with words like "laid" (in the sexual sense) and "suck" (in the critical sense) turning up frequently. Maybe it's because his main character writes greeting cards, but he seems to be much better at the funny songs, most of which fall to the secondary characters, than at the big romantic ballads, which tend to go to the leads. That means Stephanie D'Abruzzo, as Diana, and David A. Austin, as Jeff, get more to play than Colin Hanlon, as Austin, and Farah Alvin, as Marcy. All have good voices and work hard to bring the recording off, as they did on-stage when I Love You Because ran off-Broadway for three months starting on Valentine's Day, 2006. Written as a thesis project for New York University's graduate musical theater writing program, the show is a minor, early effort for Cunningham and Salzman that shows promise. ~ William Ruhlmann
Release Date: 17 January 2011

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Catalogue No: PS643