“I Love You Because” is beautiful in every way!

Rating: ★★★★ (out of 4)

Love is a very beautiful thing. Some of us understand it and some of us don’t. Its a subject that has been simplified and complicated over the years. Finally though there’s a new show that puts it all in perspective. Angelwalk Theatre presents the Canadian Premiere of I Love You Because, a modern musical twist on Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, directed by Darcy Evans. The story revolves around Austin (Jeff Madden), a young greeting card writer living in beautiful New York City. After a shocking breakup with his girlfriend, he looks to his brother Jeff (Jay Davis) for support and to a create a “plan” to move on. Their so called “plan” makes them cross paths with two young women, Diana (Gabi Epstein) and Marcy (Elena Juatco), a moment that will change their lives forever.

I Love You Because is a very simple but moving production. When you walk into the romantic Studio Theatre at the Toronto Centre for the Arts, you are greeted by this beautiful and eye catching set, designed by the very talented Scott Penner. The mix of colours and light give you a warm and cozy feeling. Lily Ling, the musical director of the production, has created music that not just excites you but invites your emotions to be a part of the show. The set and the music together create this perfect atmosphere to discuss about love.

Cara Leslie, Gabi Epstein, Jeff Madden, Jay Davis, Michael DeRose in “I Love You Because” | Photo Credit: Vincent Perri

Love is something that cannot be expressed genuinely unless you mean it. A simple “I Love You” doesn’t mean anything unless the two people connect with one another. Connecting with the audience is something the cast excels at. Madden takes this rather interesting young man named Austin and builds his character as the story progresses, rather than just throwing him out there. You understand his inner emotions, his desires and the wanting for love. Juatco does the same by really demonstrating a talent for controlling different emotions. Her performance invigorates her character Marcy in such a way, the audience falls immediately in love with her. Davis brings so much energy into the production as Jeff that you are presented with this tall, handsome man who is enjoying every part of life; however, as the story progresses, Davis ingeniously brings out the hidden side of his character that the audience wasn’t aware of, truly creating an experience. His performance is further enhanced and  complimented by Epstein’s Diana. Not only is she able to bring complexity to her character (Diana is an actuary!) but manages to bring diversity to character with her on stage cuteness. Michael De Rose & Cara Leslie, who play multiple roles in the show, have such amazing chemistry, you literally feel the magic on stage.

Elena Juatco, Cara Leslie, Michael DeRose & Gabi Epstein in “I Love You Because” | Photo Credit: Vincent Perri

This cast perform like a family. Amazing chemistry. There are  no loose ends, no compromises. Every little detail is beautifully crafted. The most significant part of the entire production is the underlining message: love one another not in spite of each other’s faults but because of them. It is a very powerful message. The cast bring to life characters we all can relate to or see everyday and put forward an interesting thing about love: Its all about perspective. Love should be felt, not analysed, and the cast deliver that message very well.  From start to finish you are brought into this wonderful world of love and when you leave, you feel like you have been touched by an angel. The experience is beautiful! Hats off to Brian Goldenberg & the folks at Angelwalk Theatre for bringing this to Toronto!

I Love You Because plays the Studio Theatre at the Toronto Centre for the Arts until April 15th. For more information and tickets, please visit www.angelwalk.ca

Elena Juatco, Gabi Epstein, Jeff Madden, Jay Davis, Michael DeRose & Cara Leslie in “I Love You Because” | Photo Credit: Vincent Perri