By Drew Sterwald
Originally posted on February 05, 2007
"What did I come in here for?" sang a middle-aged man as the second act of "Mid-Life! The Crisis Musical" began.
Commiserating laughter rippled through the Off Broadway Palm Theatre. Playgoers could relate.
There are more such moments in this ribald, rapid-fire revue, in which Bob and Jim Walton's clever lyrics explore the comical, humiliating and occasionally poignant effects of being over the hill.
From a "singing mammogram" to a prostate-exam lament, "Mid-Life!" offers refreshingly frank and irreverent observations instead of tired old Geritol jokes.
In some ways it reminded me of the dating musical "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change," but it probably has as much in common with "Menopause: The Musical."
The show is structured as a series of vignettes built around original songs, and they cohere well under the Waltons' direction. The titles of scenes are projected on a screen like an optometrist's eye chart — a clever touch.
The score is a pastiche of Broadway styles, with a good variety of pacing. Most of the songs work perfectly well, with the possible exception of the tongue-tying "Turning Forty," which is hard to follow lyrically and clearly not easy to perform.
Three men and three women sing and dance 21 numbers in two hours on the small Off Broadway stage. The theater seats only 90, which makes for an intimate connection with the cast.
Seth Abrahams, Francesca Amari, Craig Davis, Jennie Hollander-Carosiello, Andy Kopec and Patti McClure each shine in their solo moments. Hollander-Carosiello gamely exploited the sexuality of "Biological Clock," while McClure found a sweet way to sing about Lasik surgery in "When He Laughs."
That tender song, about seeing your spouse in a new way, provided a marked tonal contrast to the broadly comical scenes around it. Like the poignant "The Long Goodbye," about elderly parents, it brought depth to a show that could have skated by on over-the-top humor.