The old saying is that there is nothing new under the sun, and that old saying holds true for Mid-Life! The Crisis Musical.
The cabaret-style show, playing matinees and evenings through Sept. 26 at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre, is a series of vignettes about the "pleasures" of turning 40, then 50 and facing the midlife crises: going bald, going through menopause, going through divorce and all those other predictable, but still surprising-when-they-happen, events.
What makes Mid-Life! different and fun is that the old cliches are done with such charm and wit by director/cast member Steven Flaa's excellent cast and crew. Artistic director Matthew McGee obviously knew his audience when he picked the players, as they tend to be closer to the older midlife than the younger and therefore connect better with those watching.
Make no mistake, this show is for grownups. The skits and songs don't leave any coy blanks or implications, as many others do. When the rhyme should be "a--" or "butt," the lyrics include those words, not a wink or a nod.
And bodily functions — or, more accurately, familiar malfunctions — are an hilariously running theme. Many in the opening night crowd may have faced those crises decades ago, but the memories linger and some are still around.
Mid-Life! hits them all — the biological clock, blown-out knees, miserable trips to the doctor, midlife divorce — but also boomerang kids and aging, forgetful parents, problems closest to many at the tables.
The six cast members aren't into the savior of many musicals, namely high kicks and eye-popping dance numbers, but they more than make up for it with good voices and persuasive acting.
Tony Triano (characters have various names throughout the show) won a room full of admirers in his Show Palace debut. Balding, with a comfortable, friendly middle-aged paunch, Triano has a delightful manner and a terrific voice.
Two other newcomers, Melanie Souza and Forrest Richards (she's female) also roped in the crowd, Souza bemoaning her biological clock, translating what women really mean when they talk and boasting about her most unusual midlife career, and Richards as an aging wife coming to appreciate her husband, turning 50 and playing a perky substitute doctor.
The three Show Palace veterans — Patti Eyler, Allan Baker and Flaa — deliver the strong performances audiences have come to expect from them. Baker's physical comedy is top-notch, Flaa's boyish charm is at its best and Eyler a linchpin pulling it all together.
Pianist Stan Collins is superb, following the feel of the show and shining in his own moments.
The show is mostly good laughs, but the penultimate number, The Long Goodbye, about watching a parent succumb to Alzheimer's, brings just the touch of poignancy this little musical needs.
The show runs a scant two hours — just right for a cabaret show — but it goes so quickly, it seems much shorter.
Tom Hansen's abstract backdrop sets the mood, and his center-stage turntable assures no pauses in the action. Scott Daniels costumes are age- and physique-appropriate for midlifers.
Mid-Life! offers no unexpected insights, but it does serve as a gentle and pleasant reminder of what is to come or what has been, and that everyone lucky enough to survive that long goes through it.