REVIEW: Mid-life! The Crisis Musical (Metropolis Arts Centre)

Still in need of some ‘crisis’ management

 

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Metropolis Performing Arts Centre presents
  
Mid-life! The Crisis Musical
 
By Bob Walton and Jim Walton
Directed by Robin M. Hughes
at MPAC, 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights (map)
Through June 19 | Tickets: $35-$43 |  more info

Reviewed by Leah A. Zeldes

Hot flashes, varicose veins, dimming vision, escaping memories, philandering husbands … these are the subjects of Mid-life! The Crisis Musical, currently at Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights. The opening number offers a laundry list of the pains of the 40s and 50s … and the rest of this overlong show, like middle age itself, goes downhill from there.

Productions - Mid Life - 2 Less a musical than a revue, the show quickly becomes repetitive, with the litany of the first song expanded in a series of thematic songs and skits. The humor expends itself rapidly — these are all jokes we’ve heard before. (And much of the opening-day audience at Metropolis not only lived through them but also at least a decade or two beyond.)

The funniest number, "What Did I Come In Here For?" comically details the problems of short-term memory loss. A mid-life translator interprets the frustrations of aging husbands ("I want to sleep with other women") to their weepy, menopausal wives and vice versa. "He Got What He Deserves" (a low-budget version of "Cell Block Tango" from Chicago) suggests that two-timing, middle-aged lotharios get their just rewards, a sadly untrue contention.

Some of the bits are just plain dumb, like one about a singing mammogram. "The Long Goodbye," a song about the difficulties of caring for elderly parents in senile dementia had the potential to be poignant, but the writers went for cheap laughs instead.

The cast, portraying six nameless middle-aged characters, carries through well, with good timing and fine moves, yet they can’t add much to such lightweight material. Dennis Brown‘s cockney accent seemed a bit distracting, though, and the women — Kate Brown, Elizabeth Haley and Katie Miller — all appear too young for the roles they’re supposed to be playing. Costume Designer Cathy Tantillo apparently tried to address this by putting them in frumpy knee-length khaki skirts with unattractive hem-line borders and maroon tops that emphasize bulges.

Scott Alan Emerick, 41, looks a bit on the youthful side, too, especially in a "Weekend Warriers" skit that portrays him as being the same age as the older men. Haley and David Elliott bring notable voices to their performances, but the music – peppy and uncomplicated – doesn’t give them much scope. (Hear samples on the website.)

Productions - Mid Life - 5 Robin M. Hughes uses a rear-stage video screen to introduce each number in a singularly uncreative use of high tech. The videos, mostly ugly, do nothing that wouldn’t have been more effective in live sequences … even an actor just carrying a sign across the stage.

Michael Gehmlich and Adam Veness have constructed an interesting multilevel staircase set, with two proscenium arches studded with 156 lights. It’s a pity that Christie Kerr’s uninspired choreography doesn’t make better use of it.

Getting old may be no joke, but Mid-life! The Crisis Musical won’t do much to lift your spirits.

   
   
Rating: ★★
  
  

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Think Fast – Jerry Springer, theatre ticket refunds?, Tim Gunn, and Writers’ Theatre London tour

  • Is it a good idea for theatres to offer your ticket money back if you did not enjoy the play (as the Goodman Theatre did in El Grito del Bronx)? Chicago Tribune’s Chris Jones thinks not.
springer-in-chicago-the-musical
heidi-and-tim
  • Starting this Thursday, August 20th, The Coach House (950 W. Wolfram – map) will kick off its weekly “Project Runway” viewing parties with the hit show’s new season premier.  Come play drinking games with Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn with many of the bar’s drinking specials. (maybe a shot every time Tim Gunn says “Talk to me”? or “Work, work, work!”??).
  • Writers’ Theatre is offering a London Theatre tour, December 30th thru January 6th, which will be led by Artistic Director Michael Halberstam and former chief theatre critic of the Chicago Tribune Richard Christiansen.  Enjoy some of the world’s greatest theatre; visit with some of the world’s greatest actors; experience insider encouters with local theatrical leaders; fine dining, fascinating conversation, exhilarating drama!   For more info, contact Rachel Weinstein at 847-242-6005.  Space is limited, so act fast. 

Mental Health Break: Florence Henderson shows kinky side!

Ran across this video the other day, and thought I’d share it with my readers.  Who knew Mrs. Brady was so nasty…