Middle-Age in the Key of "C" - "Mid-Life: The Crisis Musical" Reviewed

The idea of going through a mid-life “crisis” is something that most people do not want to acknowledge will happen to them. But, as we all know, almost everyone experiences this to some degree, whether they’ll admit to it or not. It’s a natural part of aging; reminiscing about days past, wondering what could have been, and trying to recapture one’s youth. These are the things that mark the process of aging, and gave the writers of “Mid-Life: The Crisis Musical” fodder for a hilarious play.

Focusing on the years between one’s fortieth and sixtieth birthdays, “Mid-Life: The Crisis Musical” looks at not only the afore mentioned mid-life “crisis,” but also pokes fun at many of the other staples of middle age. With a superb cast of 6 actors and actresses, “Mid-Life” parodies the situations and neuroses that both sexes encounter when approaching the autumn years of life.

Utilizing a single set stage consisting of six doors (three on either side of the stage) narrowing back to a cut out of a house with a hedge (which hid a piano) and a backdrop showing a stereotypical shot of the suburbs complete with pink flamingos, the play opens with the requisite announcements about audio and video recording, cell phones, and the intermission. But instead of the usual, pre-recorded affair, each announcement was made with a few added interjections, including the request to adjust hearing aids; informing the audience about the availability of Geritol in the bar; and assuring all in attendance that there would be many, many intermissions. After the half-serious opening announcements, the pianist walked onto the stage, idly trimming the hedge as he made his way to the piano. As the pianist began to play the opening chords of the play’s theme, “Welcome To Mid-Life,” the entire cast burst through each of the six doors, belting the tune with a boisterous confidence that set the mood for most of the play.   

The singing mammogram

As the play progressed, the audience seemed to thoroughly enjoy each of the exaggerated situations the cast found themselves in. Each song, tackling subjects such as going to the doctor (including both the male and female experiences); a woman’s biological clock; lying to spare another’s feelings; and weekend warriors all received hearty amounts of laughter from the audience. One song, “My Lost Love,” especially seemed to be the audience favorite as it was not a ballad about a previous girlfriend (as the song’s intro made it seem), but rather a hilarious look at a man who lost his hair.  

An exasperated husband and his wife in "Classical Menopause"

To balance out the numerous laughs, the play did include a small number of “serious” songs that really made the viewer consider their loved ones and their own lives.

In the first act, the song “When He Laughs” is a ballad that focuses on a wife and her reasons for continuing to love her husband after many years of marriage. In the second act, the cast looks at mortality in a decidedly unfunny way. The song “The Long Goodbye,” which has three of the cast members singing about their aging parents, brought the play back to reality and made everyone ponder their own lives as a consequence. The song really seemed to hit close to home for some of the audience members as sniffling could be heard all around the seating area.

Weekend warriors!

In the end, “Mid-Life: The Crisis Musical” is an excellent musical that celebrates aging as much, if not more, than it laments it. Because even though it hilariously parodies many of the situations we all are going through, have gone through, or most likely will go through during middle-age, it reminds us that it is all a natural part of aging, and with the right outlook, it’ll be all right.

“Mid-Life: The Crisis Musical” is playing now through November 3, 2007 at the Pheasant Run Resort located at 4052 E. Main St. in St. Charles, Illinois. For tickets, please call the theater box office at (630) 584-6342, or visit www.noblefool.org.

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