“Every seven seconds, another baby boomer’s turning 50,” they sing – and every one of them will receive the dreaded welcome letter from AARP, henceforth to be known as “officially old.”
The shock of that unwelcome acknowledgement – and the worse horrors to follow – are celebrated (if that’s quite the word) in the musical revue “Too Old For The Chorus ... But Not Too Old To Be A Star!” The show, with book, music and lyrics by Marie Cain, Mark Winkler and Shelly Markham, plays through June 24 at Welk San Diego Resort in Escondido.
Vista’s Broadway Theater presents the show and provides director Randall Hickman and star Douglas Davis. The pair are co-founders and owners of the Broadway venue and the Off Broadway Theater.
A neighborhood coffeehouse called Java the Hut serves as the gathering place for five official oldsters who drift in and out, to be served by affable barista Barry (Myles Vencill) and to lament problems familiar to the senior set such as “memory moments” and the shifting of the anatomical real estate into “saggy, baggy and haggy” status.
Flaming redhead Shirley (Eliane Weidaur), for example, wants to tell James (Scott Westover) about the wonders of memory booster ginkgo biloba, but wouldn’t you know it, she can’t recall the name.
Divorcée Faith (Valerie Washington Geason) is flashing all over the place in “Menopause Rag.”
But the guys have their own problems. Dancer Bobby (Davis) feels “Invisible” at auditions, noting that “my leotards are older than half the kids out there.” Businessman James laments that “they still call me ‘sir,’ but now it’s like a slur.”
Most of the songs are bouncy, but a few are genuinely poignant. Housewife Shirley sings of “The Road Not Taken,” not so much regretfully as just wondering what might have been.
Glenn (Walter Smith), a former surfer, sings of his relationship with his father (played by Westover in a wheelchair) in the lovely “Child Is Father To The Man.”
And in the most unusual song, Smith’s Glenn offers a paean to pets loved and lost in the unfortunately titled “Dog Passages.”
The show’s main weakness is in its concept. The notion of five strangers walking into a coffeehouse and complaining about getting old offers may inspire songs, but offers very little room for dramatic interaction.
And speaking of room, the set takes up nearly the whole stage, eliminating the possibility of much dancing. This may be deliberate – only Bobby (Davis) is supposed to be a dancer – but giving the others something more to do than walk on and offstage might improve the rather flat visual impression the show gives.
Still, the cast is good enough. Davis is an old pro with the pipes and the moves to sell anything, especially Bobby, whose dancing career is, to put it kindly, stalled.
Geason’s divorcée Faith is apparently looking for a get-rich-quick scheme (or another man) – but her talent is beyond question, with a rich voice that sells the humorous “Get Real Estate” and “Crush.”
Weidaur’s voice is not as strong as the others, but she hits the notes on her big song, the melancholic “The Road Not Taken.”
Westover and Smith keep their end of the bargain, scoring points with their star turns.
Despite all the complaining, this isn’t a downer show. The whining is good-natured and familiar, much of it even funny, and though some of the song lyrics are clunky and others trite, many are clever and the message is clear: Age is just a number.
“Too Old For The Chorus....But Not Too Old To Be A Star!” plays through June 24 at Welk Resorts Theatre San Diego, 8860 Lawrence Welk Drive, Escondido.
Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 1 pm; Saturday at 8 pm.
For tickets, call 888-802-7469.
To read more reviews by SDGLN Theater Critic Jean Lowerison, click HERE.