By Damien Jaques
‘Mid-Life!’ takes comic look at getting older
It's an axiom in theater that the audience likes to see itself on stage. Relating to the characters and their story is a prime component of a satisfying night in the theater. With that in mind, “Mid-Life! The Crisis Musical” has won half the battle with its title alone. Absent a plot, the show is actually a comic musical revue that contains 22 original song-based skits connected by the slender but strong strand of a single truth. Middle age is the daily reminder that you are getting old.
The list of irritations and indignities middle age asks us to endure is familiar, and “Mid-Life!” gives many of them their own, individual sketches. In one of the most amusing numbers, the old concept of the singing telegram is modified and moved to a clinic where women are subjected to singing mammograms. Later in the revue, that uniquely male experience, the digital prostate exam, is given its musical tribute. Single and childless women racing their biological clocks, middle-aged guys trying to maintain their basketball prowess, Lasik eye surgery and the never-empty nest are some of the topics explored. A trio of divorced women tunefully chortles over a husband who dumps his wife for a much younger woman, only to unexpectedly find himself a father again.
“Mid-Life!” also has its more serious moments. “The Long Goodbye” is a bittersweet number about the shadow of Alzheimer's disease falling over beloved parents.
Six singer-actors are equally featured in the Broadway Baby production, and director Elaine Parsons-Herro, who is also one of the performers, casts the show well. She is particularly funny in a broad range of characters, from the less than enthusiastic mammogram patient to a sugary blond cowgirl and a dim-witted divorcée. Mary C. DeBattista is the strongest singer in the group, and she contributes a great deal of sparkle, polish and energy. Her determined effort to find a father for the child she desires as her biological clock nears midnight sets a high standard for the production.