A number of shows being performed all over the country all deal with the same thing: aging. There's Mid-Life the Crisis Musical, Menopause the Musical, Mid-Life 2; the Crisis Musical, and many home-made regional productions of shows pertaining to the same subject. Some are funnier than others, but all of them use the same basic set ups.
Directed and choreographed by Paul Stancato, the mid-life crisis show playing at the Beckett Theatre on Theater Row is Happy 50ish. As you walk into the theater, you are greeted with a set (design by Christopher Ash) of a beautiful back yard and patio all set up for Bob’s 50th Birthday celebration. The guest list? Bob (Lynn Shore), his best friend Mike (Mark Vogel), and you, the audience.
You quickly come to realize during Happy 50ish that this is going to be 90 minutes of people reminiscing about their youth, making jokes about getting older, making jokes about what they did in their youth, and complaining about youth today, with songs to accompany all of it. What you don’t expect, is the unmatched enthusiasm that the two performers bring to the stage. The two actors (Vogel and Shore, who also wrote the show with David Burnham) fill the show with a score that reminds you of 1950s Doo Wop, Alan Menken’s Little Shop of Hoors and a few Billy Joel-isms. The voices on Mr. Shore and Mr. Vogel are splendid. Whether they are singing solos, duets or harmonizing, it is always clean, clear and a joy to listen to. With their energy and voices, they carry the show fantastically. The voices on the audience, not as grand. (The show is directly addressed to the audience in a way that makes us a part of the show...sometimes helping out with songs and being referenced as certain people in these character’s lives.)
As a whole, Mr. Vogel and Mr. Shore know the audience they are after. If you meet the criteria (will you be, have you had or are you planning a 50th birthday?), you will find solace in this show knowing that you are not the only one going through some of these thoughts and feelings. One of the highlights in both composition and delivery was the song about colonoscopies. That’s right, they are going that far into these feelings...and sometimes, even further.