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A CurtainUp Review
Happy 50ish 


You don't stop laughing because you get old, you get old because you stop laughing.—┬áBob
Happy 50ish
Mark Vogel (L) and Lynn Shore (R)(Photo: Jeremy Daniel)
The pitfalls of aging have been well explored when it comes to women. But how about men? We've all laughed (perhaps a bit enviously) at aging men who woo and sometimes win younger women. And many women will insist that no matter how old men get they never really grow up. But don't men face many of the same crises women do when they look in the mirror and don't see the same face they saw when they were 20?

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.

Hapyy 50ish
Book Music and Lyrics by Lynn Shore, Mark Vogel, David Burnham
Directed by Paul Stancato

Cast: Mark Vogel (Mike), Lynn Shore (Bob)
Scenic and Lighting Design: Christopher Ash
Sound Design: David Crawford
Production Stage Manager: Nic Adams
Running Time: 90 minutes
The Beckett Theatre, 410 West 42nd Street (212) 239-6200
From 7/15/15; opening 7/26/15; closing 8/30/15
Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. with matinees on Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.
Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons July 23, 2015

Musical Numbers
Bob Is Turning 50 (Mike)
Happy 50ish (Bob and Mike)
The First Card I Got This Year (Bob and Mike)
This Is Your Life (Bob and Mike)
My Mid-Life Crisis (Mike)
What The Hell Is Wrong With Me (Bob)
Happy 50ish reprise, Where Have the Years All Gone (Bob)
Better With Age (Mike)
Better With Age reprise (Bob and Mike)
They Text They Type They Talk They Twitter (Bob and Mike)
One Foot in the Grave (Bob and Mike)
Where's That Camera Gonna Go (Bob and Mike)
Happy 50ish reprise, The Change (Bob and Mike)
Too Damn Hard (Bob)
Find the Laughter (Bob and Mike)
Happy 50is reprise, Can't Live in the Past Now (Bob and Mike)
My Mid-Life Crisis reprise (Bob and Mike)
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