By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Musical 'a classic romantic comedy'

Marcus Larson/News-Register“I Love You Because” cast members, from left, NYC Man (Lance Nuttman), NYC Woman (Julia Sargent), Austin (Sam Dinsmore), Diana (Alice Darnton), and Jeff (Cesar Anguiano) perform a musical number. The show will run through April 19 at Gallery Theater.
Marcus Larson/News-RegisterCharacters in “I Love You Because,” from left, Marcy (Rebekah Wagner), NYC Woman (Julia Sargent), NYC Man (Lance Nuttman), and Diana (Alice Darnton) enjoy drinks while performing a musical number.

While Jane Austen’s original enumerates the reasons one character shouldn’t love another, this version does the opposite — leading to the name, “I Love You Because.”

With music by Joshua Salzman and lyrics by Ryan Cunningham, “I Love Your Because” is set in present-day New York City. Its characters — including Marcy and Austin Bennett, both twists on names in the original book — are 20- and 30-year-olds struggling to find both themselves and their way around relationships.

“It’s about what happens when you fall in love with someone you’re not supposed to,” said Seth Renne, who is directing the show.

“Everyone can relate,” he said. “Falling in love is something everyone has done and wants to do.”

Jane Austen’s work has inspired many adaptations, from movies to books. They work because Austen’s originals are so strong, Renne said. “She really knew how to write relationships,” he said.

Renne decided to direct Gallery’s “I Love You Because” after seeing a version in 2011 at the Broadway Rose theater in Portland. “It was really funny and the music was really, really good,” he said.

He has directed several shows at Gallery and appeared on stage many times, most recently as Seymour in “Little Shop of Horrors.”

“The music in ‘I Love You Because’ is reminiscent of a classical musical,” he said. “It’s really a classic romantic comedy, heartwarming and tender with a lot of humor — the first time we ran it, people were falling out of their chairs laughing.”

He said he wants to hear the audience laughing. And he hopes they leave the theater “feeling good and maybe a little more accepting of people for what they are.”

Renne remarked how pleased he is with his cast. Plenty of people turned out to audition, enabling him to choose actors perfectly suited to the roles, he said.

Rebekah Wagner plays Marcy, who just broke up with her boyfriend and is seeking her next Mr. Right. She has performed at Western Oregon State University and the Enchanted Forest.

Sam Dinsmore plays Austin, also on the rebound. He has appeared in shows such as “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” at Gallery. “Sam often plays characters that are far older or younger than he is. This time, he gets to play his own age,” the director noted.

Austin and Marcy’s best friends are comic characters Diana, played by Alice Darnton, and Jeff, played by Cesar Anguiano. Both are Gallery regulars — Darnton has been seen in shows such as “Seussical” and Anguiano recently won rave reviews as the cat in “Honk.”

Lance Nuttman and Julia Sargent fill out the cast, both playing an assortment of New York residents. Nutman was recently seen in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and “Little Shop”; Sargant played opposite him in “Cat” and has acted in many other shows.

Kelly Jansen and Lauren Berg are the assistant directors. Berg also is doing costumes and props.

Ember Eastman is choreographing the show. Paula Terry is the stage manager. Mike Pace is in charge of lighting.

Beth Randolf is the music director. A four-piece combo will provide live music.

Curtain will be at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays, through April 19. Tickets are $14 general and $13 for students and seniors. On the first Saturday, tickets are buy one, get one free.

The show is rated a strong PG due to adult content, the director said.

For reservations and more information, call 503-472-2227.

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