If ever a musical revue knew its target audience, it's The Kids Left. The Dog Died. Now What? Indeed, it seemed to strike many responsive chords among the appreciative middle-aged-and-up matinee audience attending the performance reviewed. Despite the title, the show doesn't focus much on the empty-nest syndrome. Instead, it's a sincere, mostly lighthearted package of songs and skits about living and living it up as one's senior years get nearer, from growing dependence on doctors to late-blooming romance. It's also considerably more workmanlike than inspired or revelatory.
The book, music, and lyrics are by Carole Lonner, a baby boomer herself according to the press materials, who went back to school at age 50 to study music. Her score follows the revue template, replete with ballads and frisky novelty numbers. Like the skits, the songs often make their points in clear but fairly pedestrian fashion. Typical is the upbeat finale celebrating the adventures midlife and golden-age folks can embark on: "Stepping out, we're coming of age again./Stepping out, out, we're turning a page again."
Except for some occasional overselling of the jokes, the cast, under Hilary Adams' direction, handles the material with solid singing and adroit acting. The five talented actors are Ron Bagden, Tiana Checchia, Mary Jo McConnell, Marsha Mercant, and Michael Shelle. Musical director Rick HipFlores provides piano accompaniment. Laura Crow's array of stylish costumes gives things a bright look.
Several sketches deal with widows or widowers. In one, a daughter advises her widowed father how to dress cool for a date. In another, a widow meets her husband's mistress, and among still others, a widow and widower fall sweetly in love and are asked to be discreet around the grandchildren. It brings to mind an alternate title for the show: The Kids Left. The Spouse Died. Now What? But that might not sit so comfortably with that target audience.
Presented by Naja Productions as part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival
at TBG Theater, 312 W. 36th St., 3rd floor, NYC.
Sept. 25-Oct. 7. Remaining performances: Sat., Sept. 29, 8 p.m.; Tue., Oct. 2, 8 p.m.; Wed., Oct. 3, 1 p.m.; Sun., Oct. 7, 1 and 4 p.m.
(212) 352-3101 or (866) 811-4111 or www.theatermania.com or www.nymf.org.