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A CurtainUp Review
Lynn Shore, Mark Vogel and David Burnham, in their new musical, Happy 50ish, say the answer is an emphatic "yes." The show, directed and choreographed by Paul Stancato, is a two-hander; Shore is Bob, and Vogel is Mike, the friend who is is helping him celebrate his 50th birthday.
There is no one else at the party, as Bob's wife, Pam, is stuck at the bakery trying to get the name on his birthday cake changed from "Boob" to "Bob." But there are lots of birthday cards, which provide plenty of jokes and sometimes the introduction to a musical number.
Many of the jokes in this show are way older than Bob. The complaints about hitting that big five-O are not exactly new either. There are plenty of those "You know you're getting old when..." one finds all over the Internet. But with that said, there are moments in Happy 50ish that really do work.
The scene where Bob is trying desperately to urinate may be especially poignant for many men (and their sympathetic wives), but it is also very funny. The "Too Damn Hard" scene about a Viagra overdose is another case in point. And "Where's That Camera Gonna Go," a tale of colonoscopy woe is actually hilarious in a strange sort of way.
Shore is both likable and sincere. He even pulls off the more serious "Find the Laughter," in which he remembers his own father. Both Shore and Vogel have excellent voices. Vogel plays a mean piano, and Shore's harmonica and guitar solos are a pleasant surprise. Although there doesn't seem to be much reason for their piano duet on "Chopsticks" (s.k.a "The Celebrated Chop Waltz"), it does provide for some musical high jinx.
Bob and Mike have a dicey sort of relationship. Mike, supposedly Bob's friend, keeps needling him. This may produce the reaction that leads to the musical numbers, but one can't help but wonder why anyone would have such a sadistic friend.
If this show does not call for deep thought, it does ask some difficult questions: How does it feel on first becoming a Grandpa? How do our relationships change as our bodies change? Is it better to fight aging or age gracefully and graciously? The answer seems to be just suck it up and smile.