By Catherine Dribb
Mid-Life!, the Crisis Musical, presented by TexArts for only one more weekend, is a funny, witty piece about colorful characters and the crises they face. Brothers Bob and Jim Walton wrote book, music, and lyrics for this musical review with no plot other than scenes of the characters as they progress (and digress) through their mid-lives. Mid-Life! features six outstanding cast members directed by Lenny Daniel, bringing talent to Lakeway from Dripping Springs, Austin and Georgetown! If you’re able to make the scenic drive west, it’s a performance worth the trip.
Mid-Life! covers the range of emotions and crises associated with the often dreaded mid-life years -- a 37-year-old ticking time bomb looking for the perfect sperm; a 40-year-old man exhibiting Tourette’s syndrome outbursts of his father’s idioms; and a man and woman who decide turning the big five-oh isn’t so oh, oh, all that bad.
The creatively designed set is filled with stuff we’ve acquired in our lives. Mid-Life! is smoothly staged as characters come in and out of scenes carrying small props or rearranging the set items already there.
The six performers play different characters in different marriages, divorces, jobs and homes. Most of the show is comic: three women at their 30-year high school reunion discussing their divorces, for example, or the three men exaggerating their skilz on the bball court [sic] only to cut their recreation time short because wives are telephoning. From softly spoken I love yous to blatant I’ve-traded-you-for-a-younger-model announcements, Mid-Life! pokes fun at those who stay married, those who abandon marriage, and those whose marriage spawned that damn kid who just won’t leave home.
It isn’t all just fun and games. Coming out of the closet and mammogram tests aren’t all sparkles and flashing lights (though they are in this show!). In the finale a trio gently addresses the distressing responsibilities of parenting their own parents. After scenes that elicit laughs, gasps and did-they-really-just-go-there?, it’s a tender moment for the audience and actors.
That tenderness didn’t come any too soon, either. While it’s clever and funny, Mid-Life! can be hard to stomach at times, let alone watch. But at least both genders get what’s coming to them. Women in the audience had to watch the characters mock menopause and mammograms while men got to suffer through a song about that dreaded trip to the doctor that’s complete only after the rubber-gloved prostate exam.
Songs about such sensitive subjects were bearable, thanks to a strong cast. Special accolades go to Jarret Mallon and Amy Nichols. When all six performers sang together onstage, the overall blend wasn’t remarkable, but their individual performances in solos, trios and small ensembles were superb.
You will, indeed, laugh out loud at TexArts’ production in Lakeway of Mid-Life!, the Crisis musical featuring Kirk Kelso, Jarret Mallon, Melita McAtee, Amy Nichols, Rudy Roberson and Cathie Sheridan. It runs through February 26. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door.