Before I describe Mid-Life! The Crisis Musical, be advised that the show sold out at South Park Theatre last weekend. Even the Sunday matinee was packed to the gills with loyal community-theater fans. Most of these people were middle-aged (or older), and if Mid-Life lacks appeal for a childless, urban, Gen Y bachelor, it seemed to offer superior entertainment value for 40-plus married couples from the suburbs.
Mid-Life is a musical revue created by Bob and Jim Walton. There's no "story," only a series of sketches about the usual midlife misgivings: weight issues, biological clocks, wayward husbands, ungrateful children and the onslaught of uncomfortable birthdays. Three men and three women play all the characters, and they sing about lousy jobs and Lasik surgery.
In one scene, a man forgets why he entered a room. He decides to step out and re-enter, because maybe this will jog his memory.
"That works every time!" a woman next to me exclaimed. Once again, fiction unearths a greater truth.
These performers have mixed abilities, but they are fearless onstage, and that's what matters. Director Rick Campbell adds some light choreography and a little slapstick, and the whole thing comes off like a unified high school talent show. There's even some heartfelt concern, in "The Long Goodbye," about elderly parents lost to a nursing home. Otherwise, the jokes are time-tested and even raunchy -- the funniest number is "Another Trip to the Doctor," where dancing physicians give a startled patient her mammogram.
Mid-Life is satire, and it's aimed at the comfy Baby Boomer set -- a population that currently has most of the money, real estate and senior positions in America. So isn't it depressing, all this talk of missed chances and alienated family? In "Weekend Warriors," we see three men who play basketball on Saturdays. They fake some urban lingo, they talk some smack, and then their wives call with domestic demands. The emasculated husbands hang their heads and go home. The women, meanwhile, sing about marital strife and traitorous bodies -- in this world, divorce is bitter and inevitable. The only satisfaction comes from quitting your job, or telling off hypocritical friends.
Yes, it's satire, but it's also gloomy to see the Vietnam generation mired in such self-loathing. The final song, "I'm Not Ready," shows the cast promising to live better, to waste no more time. But after all the boob-jobs and halfhearted exercise, the virility pills and compulsive eating, is it a matter of not being ready -- or being ready too late?
Mid-Life: The Crisis Musical continues through Sat., June 26. South Park Theatre, Corrigan Drive and Brownsville Road, South Park. 412-831-8552 or www.southparktheatre.com