Andrew Holden made an auspicious debut as a director with the hit musical revue, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, for Bowler Hat Theatre Company at Garter Lane Arts Centre. This 1996 musical looks, in a fun whimsical and most entertaining way, at the age-old rituals of the dating, mating game, the struggle to bed and make babies, fall in and out of love, and love when you’re old and nearly past it. The songs and routines have the fun and sting of recognition, the nudge in the ribs, the kick on the shin, the knowing wink, the accusing glare, the kiss-and-make-up of it all and the opening night audience experienced all of those emotions and a lot lot more.

Characters revealed hidden secrets of audience members, re-kindled pleasant memories, made love and marriage go together like a merc in a garage or a quickie in a shower. The audience delighted in the antics and routines of recognisable characters, dying for love, aching for love and then just aching and dying in a way we would want it all to end with warmth and music and the hug of belonging.

Damien O’Brien on keyboards and Theresa Costello on violin, made sweet and bitter-sweet music to suit he many moods as portrayed by four extremely talented performers who exude musical theatre style and brio. This cast of Tobie Hickey, Vicki Graham, Dermot Keyes and Gabrielle Cummins, created a wonderful evocative evening with some beautiful tender moments and some hilarious comic routines.

Dermot Keyes in a jock strap in I’m Gonna Have Sex, has got to be seen to be believed and he had me helpless with laughter. His byeplay with Vicki Graham in Lasagne Incident was as exciting as his foreplay in bed with two actresses in Satisfaction Guaranteed.

Gabrielle Cummins created many moods, as the Busy Busy career gal and the blowsy in Single Man Drought. She was a show-stopper with Always A Bridesmaid in country and western style and she shone with surprise in He Called Me. Her older woman in I Can Live With That was quality work.

Vicki Graham was sexy, sultry, shy, sarcastic and always splendid. The better anger of her Dating Video was powerful. Her wistful I Will Be Loved Tonight was beautiful.

Tobie Hickey just blew me away, with a rich and detailed set of characters and characterisations. His expressions were a scream, his acting was light and forthy, funny and tearful and old and thoughtful. His Highway Of Love routine was excruciatingly funny. I loved his Stud and Babe duet with Vicki and his aging suitor with Gabrielle in Funerals Are For Dating, left me breathless in admiration.

I would love to see him and Gabrielle or Vicki in the two-hander by Jason Robert Brown, The Last 5 Years (a falling in-and-out of love new musical).

The settings and lighting left a lot of unanswered questions that could not be just put down to lack of funding.