The Show Palace Dinner Theatre winds up the 2010 three-show summer season with the final in a series of lighthearted (some might say "lightweight") shows, this one about getting older, relatively speaking.
Mid-Life! The Crisis Musical will probably be a trip down memory lane for many in the Show Palace's mostly senior audiences, as it emphasizes the joys and pains of turning 40 and 50, ages that many passed one or more decades ago.
Like another show in its genre, Menopause, the Musical, Mid-Life bemoans Turning Forty, the tick-ticking of the Biological Clock, the empty-nest syndrome, hot flashes, memory loss, midlife divorce and dealing with aging parents.
Since its debut in 2006, the musical has become a favorite of dinner and community theaters, running for 19 months in the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre in Minneapolis and 10 months at the Broadway Baby Dinner Theatre in Milwaukee to enthusiastic reviews, one calling it "fall-out-of-your-seat funny."
It must be noted, though, that others have been less rapturous, calling it "cliched" and "repetitive."
Whatever, the Show Palace has recruited a six-member cast that includes three of the theater's favorite singer-dancers and three Show Palace newcomers who aren't newcomers to theater.
Leading off as Man 1 (there are no character names) is director/choreographer Steven Flaa, last seen as Sparky in the Show Palace's Forever Plaid, a role he has done in several theaters throughout the Tampa Bay area. He was also seen as Hillaire Jussac in Can-Can and in two Christmas shows. Appropriately, Flaa will celebrate his 50th birthday on Tuesday, three days before the show opens.
Woman 1 will be played by Patti Eyler, perhaps most fondly remembered as Dolly Levi in the 2001 production of Hello, Dolly at the Show Palace, though she was equally as good as La Mome Pistache in Can-Can, Mrs. Miller in Carousel, Miss Mona in the 2005 production of Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and the maiden schoolteacher in This Magic Moment.
Also returning is Allan Baker as Man 2. Baker was the nerdy comic character in This Magic Moment who had always had a crush on Ms. Eyler's character.
The three Show Palace newcomers are Melanie Souza as Woman 2, Forrest Richards as Woman 3 and Tony Triano as Man 3.
Ms. Souza, a native of Rhode Island now living in Sarasota, has appeared in musicals such as Gypsy, Chicago and Anything Goes, as well as serious drama, like Suddenly Last Summer at American Stage. Ms. Richards, another Sarasota resident, via Tennessee, has been in more than 40 productions in her career, including Call Me Madam, South Pacific and Sound of Music.
Triano, who portrays Man 3, hails from Jacksonville. Since 1988, he has been a mainstay at the Alhambra Dinner Theatre, but he has also played theaters in New York, most notably at the Sullivan Street Playhouse in The Fantasticks.
Stan Collins is music director, Tom Hansen did the sets and lighting design, Scott Daniel created the costumes and designed the wigs, and Susan Haldeman is stage and company manager.