Angry Housewives: It was a cold and damp Sunday evening, and still a good-size crowd came. It wasn’t a sellout, but then I think Tacoma Musical Playhouse can seat more than 300 guests, which is a huge venue for a short run musical.
People were chatting, waving to their friends and shaking hands in the lobby and the theatre as well. The crowd was mostly older, but then so were all the actors. The Young at Heart Players feature actors over the age of fifty. Director Julie Halpin welcomed everyone and prepped us on this show and others. She’s a retired drama teacher from Curtis High School where she produced sixty shows.
The musical was written and published in the 80s. Peg and I and friends operated the Bedrock Lounge at Prossito’s on Sixth Avenue around that same time. We lost money but enjoyed ourselves. I think Peg and I played records and videos on Wednesday evenings until 2 in the morning. We brought in live bands on Friday and Saturday evenings. I think we featured every alternative rock group in Seattle that never hit it big. The American punk rock band Black Flag from southern California was interested in playing but never made it to the Pacific Northwest in the 80s. I liked the very punk Sex Pistols and finally sold my autographed, framed photo of Johnny Lydon (Johnny Rotten) just last year. So, a musical featuring the Punk Rock scene from over forty years ago remains close to our hearts.
Mostly the music still works, but the sniggeringly song “Betsey Moberly” never seemed to fit, even in 1988. We can picture Chad Henry writing it and performing it just because he thought it weird and giggling.
The opening number “Trade School” performed by Susan Moblo could have been exceptional except it sounded as if the mic wasn’t live. Moblo had some nice moves and we loved her bunny house slippers.
Susan Hendricks sings “Think Positive”, trying to convince herself in the face of her overwhelming money problems since her husband died. She decides to sell beauty products to her equally penniless friends. She invited 39 and then begins answering the regretful phone calls. “All of their grandmothers died!” The song is filled with angst. The only ones that show up are her three closest buddies. They all had men, or the lack of men, problems of their own.
“Generic Woman” was a very nice ensemble piece. The women sang and danced their hearts out. Kate Russell did an excellent job as the lead singer and dancer. Lissa Valentine performed the poignant song “Not at Home” about having a brand-new dream house and a new baby and not feeling welcome there. It was obvious that the actors were enjoying themselves and we were enjoying them too.
The big number “Eat Your F*&king Cornflakes” is a show stopper and ends Act 1. We’ve seen it performed with the actors coming down into the audience and emptying cornflakes on people. In this production, Lissa Valentine delivered several dozen personal-sized breakfasts by flinging small boxes with abandon at the audience. She covered many rows both in the center and on the sides.
I always liked the number “Man from Glad”, which makes fun of an 80s commercial. It was the next to last song in the show. This stands out in my mind because one of our favorite Canadian comedy series, “Corner Gas”, which ran from 2004 to 2009 featured the Man from Glad in a dream sequence.
Using aging actors of fifty or more, seemed a little strange at first, but they evoke such a keen sense of sadness and regret that it adds another dimension to the presentation and gives the production additional meaning, and more power.
We are looking forward to the next Young at Heart Players production, “The Pajama Game” which has a three-day run from June 21 to 23, 2019. Call the box office to reserve your seats.