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Monday, Jan. 25, 2010

Sunset Playhouse Pokes Fun in ‘Mid-Life! The Crisis Musical’

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Ah, midlife: There’s the forgetting of the car keys, repeating one’s self, trips to the doctor, repeating one’s self, adult children back living at home, repeating one’s self…

And then there’s Mid-Life! The Crisis Musical, which pokes fun at the onset of middle age and all its accompanying challenges. Within an hour and 50 minutes of musical vignettes, Sunset Playhouse covers all the recognizable signs, from the ticking of the female biological clock to the onset of male balding. It’s all in good fun, with some serious undertones. And, for the most part, it works.

Brothers Bob and Jim Walton wrote the book and lyrics that hit middle-agers smack dab in the soft underbelly of familiarity with numbers like the humorous “Side Effects,” which lists the never-ending potential results of taking medication, and “Weekend Warriors,” where a trio of men tries to whoop it up on the basketball court—until the wives call, that is. Game over, guys.

Some numbers work extremely well, like the hilarious “Classical Menopause” (men will laugh while their female companions glare at them for laughing) and “Empty Nest,” which rings all too true for many who have out-of-work children at home—along with partners and grandchildren. On the silly side is “Boys’ Night In,” with men getting a form of Botox.

But Mid-Life! nicely balances all the humor late in the show with the touching “The Long Goodbye,” which details three adult children watching their parents in the park on a “play date” as the children deal with their parents’ infirmities.

The ensemble—Mary C. DeBattista, Patti Anne Hachmeister, Paula Garcia, James A. Skiba, Glenn Villa and J.W. Anderson— handles the duties well under Mark Salentine’s direction.

For those who have yet to attain middle age, Mid-Life! can give you a sample of what lies in store—the funny parts, at least.

Mid-Life! The Crisis Musical runs through Jan. 31 at Sunset Playhouse in Elm Grove.