By Mark Collins Camera Theater Critic
Friday, September 14, 2007
Is hair disappearing from your head, but growing in your ears? Have trouble remembering exactly why you got up and walked from the living room to the kitchen? Has your quest to find a mate gone into overdrive because you're afraid your uterus is going to turn into a pumpkin by your next birthday?
The folks at Boulder's Dinner Theatre are serving up a cure for what ails us mid-lifers: giggles as appetizers, laughter garnished with guffaws as the main course, and belly laughs for dessert.
It's a temporary fix, for sure, but the platefuls of laughter in BDT's "Mid-Life! The Crisis Musical" are sure to cool your hot flashes and make you feel 20 pounds lighter. This is a truly funny show.
BDT Artistic Director Michael Duran enlisted old pal Jim Walton to direct the regional premiere of "Mid-Life!" in Boulder. Walton knows the musical inside and out because he wrote it with his brother, Bob.
The show consists of 21 vignettes done in a talk-sing style, and features a cast of six who portray new characters in each scene.
It's also a departure for BDT. "Mid-Life!" is not your typical book musical (think "Sound of Music" or "The Music Man"), where characters' actions or antics are pretty much prescribed to the actors by what's called for in the script or what's been done before.
Instead, Walton allowed the actors room to play through much of the rehearsal process and come up with many of the comic bits in a collaborative way.
So what you get is some of your favorite BDT actors Scott Beyette, Bren. Eyestone Burron, Alicia Dunfee, A.K. Klimpke, Brian Norber and Barb Reeves letting down their (graying) hair and having some (often naughty) fun. The actors' enthusiasm for what they're doing shines through the performances.
Midlife's foibles have been fodder for musical comedy before ("Menopause, The Musical" anyone?), but "Mid-Life!" feels fresh because it's filled with surprises.
Here, empty-nest syndrome isn't your typical maudlin look at a couple having more time on their hands than they want. Instead, Reeves and Klimpke lament the fact their adult son, Norber, won't leave.
Lasik surgery gives Reeves' eyes new vitality, but also brings some unwanted visions into focus like her husband's bulging mid-section. When Beyette turns 40, he realizes with horror he's turning into his dad. He's stricken with "Father's Tourette," a disorder that leaves him involuntarily shouting a weary dad's clichés.
A 30-year high school reunion finds Burron, Dunfee, Reeves as three divorced women kvetching about their loser ex-husbands, in hilarious fashion.
Other laugh-out-loud scenes include one in which, biological clock ticking like a time bomb, Dunfee sets her sights on a hapless Klimpke when the two near the end of their second date. Or, when Burron is bewildered because a routine trip to the doctor turns into a "Singing Mammogram."
Later, the stakes, and laughs, are even higher when Beyette and Klimpke take a trip to the doctor for an annual prostate exam.
Just when the laugh meter peaks, the show turns poignant, as Dunfee, Norber and Reeves meet at a park to keep an eye on their loved ones who are off playing. But the trio of mid-lifers are not watching their children, they're looking after their aged parents.
They say laughter leads to laugh lines. But people can't see your wrinkles when you're laughing out loud, can they? "Mid-Life!" is guaranteed to hide your wrinkles, if only for a couple of hours.