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'I Love You' musical, a series of humorous vignettes, opens in Conyers

Matthew Tryall and Candace Parr experience an awkward date moment in the production "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change."  The musical opens at 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 11, with evening performances on July 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26 and 27 and 3 p.m. matinee performances on Sunday July 14, 21 and 28.  Staff photo: Lee Depkin

Matthew Tryall and Candace Parr experience an awkward date moment in the production "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change." The musical opens at 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 11, with evening performances on July 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26 and 27 and 3 p.m. matinee performances on Sunday July 14, 21 and 28. Staff photo: Lee Depkin

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The New Depot Players rehearse a dance number from the production "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change." From left are Patty Mcguire, Lenae Rose, Candace Parr, Sean Blackwell, Matthew Tryall and Charles Swartout. The musical was written by Joe DiPietro and directed by Amy LeCates. Staff photo: Lee Depkin

The trials, tribulations and triumphs of romance take center stage for the next several weekends as the New Depot Players present the musical comedy "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" at Center Street Arts black box theatre in Olde Town Conyers.

"It's not really satirical, but it is very funny," "I Love You" director and ensemble veteran Amy LeCates said. "There's something for everyone in this play -- dating, marriage, kid stories. Everyone can relate to something here."

"I Love You" opens at 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 11, with 8 p.m. performances on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and 3 p.m. Sunday performances through July.

Written by Joe DiPietro, "I Love You" is a series of some 15 vignettes that cover the topic of love, starting with dating, then moving on to marriage and children and then closing out with what happens late in life.

"There are about seven or eight (vignettes) in the first act and maybe six or seven in the second act," said LeCates, who recently appeared in the New Depot Players' production of "Rabbit Hole." "None of them are very long -- I don't think there's anything over five minutes. It's very quick; when you get to intermission you're like, 'Oh, it's intermission already?' It goes by very fast. This has always been one of my favorite shows."

Although "I Love You" was originally scripted for a cast of four, LeCates opted to add two extra players, due in no small part to the gifted performers who auditioned. The cast includes Patty Maguire, Sean Blackwell, Charles Swartout, Candace Parr, Lenae Rose (who also serves as musical director) and Matt Tryall.

"We've been having a lot of fun with this one," LeCates said. "The cast is super-talented and we laugh all the time about the scenes and at each other ... I've really enjoyed working with this cast -- they're hysterical. I'm lucky they're all hams, because they'll try anything."

Although LeCates has helmed a number of New Depot Players shows through the years, "I Love You" represents her first musical foray.

"I think we were going to do this play a couple of years ago," she said. "Jay Tryall wanted to direct it initially and I wanted to be in it because I'm a musical girl and I'm used to just getting on stage and being a ham, or whatever, but Jay couldn't do it and asked me to direct instead. This is a very new process for me because I've never directed a musical. It's been difficult at times but it's also been a great new experience."

A graduate of Heritage High School, LeCates earned a degree in education at the University of Georgia (and was involved in theater there as well) and has taught in Rockdale County for more than two decades.

"The stage has always been an outlet for me," she said. "I love to sing and act and I feel really blessed to be able to do it in the community where I grew up. Patty and I have known each other for 20 years. We worked together in 'Into The Woods' with the original Depot Players and that was my first show with them."

"I Love You" roughly represents the halfway point of the New Depot Players' 2013 season. Earlier this year, audiences were treated to the drama "Rabbit Hole" and the Atlanta-centric comedy "Driving Miss Daisy." After "I Love You," the season will conclude with Neil Simon's "Lost In Yonkers" (set for mid-October) and the troupe's annual holiday musical, which this year is "Christmas Bells."

"We always try to do a musical in the summer," LeCates said. "Last year it was 'The Great American Trailer Park Musical,' which was also a lot of fun. 'I Love You' isn't as racy as 'Trailer Park,' but it's just as funny. Anyone who comes to see it will laugh the whole time. If you need a night to laugh, this is the place to be."

For ticket information, visit www.conyersarts.org. For more information on the New Depot Players, visit www.thenewdepotplayers.com.