Funny, This Musical Revue Looks Like a Winner
“Funny, You Don’t Look Like a Grandmother,” at the Santa Monica Playhouse, is old-fashioned family fare in a musical revue format. It’s not just about grandmothers. Grandfathers, the offspring and the grandchildren also get their say. Created by Lois Wyse, Sheilah Rae and Robert Waldman, based on Wyse’s best-selling book, this bare-bones production will leave you laughing as you recognize your friends, family and maybe even yourself.
The title refers to a devious comment a salesperson makes to a grandmother, persuading her to buy something too costly or too time-consuming to clean--something the grandmother acknowledges a harried mother would never consider. But Wyse’s grandmothers (Zina Bethune who alternates with Evelyn Rudie, Jan Daley, Barbara Minkus) aren’t straight from the Waltons. The children (Randy Kravis and Cindy Warden) complain about the modern grandmother who’s off taking computer classes and not available for last-minute baby-sitting duties in “Old Style Granny.” These grandmothers are sharp, witty businesswomen in red power suits (“Grandmas to Go”) or well-to-do ladies doing lunch in chic leopard-print togs (“Plastic Grandmas”).
The show covers the full spectrum--divorced, widowed and still-married grandmothers. Dumped by her husband during his midlife crisis, one (Daley) reenters the dating scene in the funny though sweetly sentimental “When Harry Met Anne (This Is It).”
The cast dons glittery cowboy duds when the tensions between in-laws turn into an old western shootout in “In-Law Outlaws.” Grandfather (Hank Adams) decries how his friends now have trophy wives; he prefers a night of Pepto-Bismol and a woman who’s “Old Enough to Be My Wife.” In “Rolling Along,” he learns roller-blading so he can teach his grandson.
The talented ensemble has its comic timing down, getting every laugh, wink and nod and enthusiastically executing Cate Caplin and Murray Phillips’ peppy choreography. With only musical director John Sawoski on piano, a few colorful rolling boards as background and quick-change costumes by Ashley Hayes, this production isn’t the slickest in town, but simplicity suits it. Tim Chadwick’s cartoon illustrations, including cutout cardboard cell phones and toy guns, are reminiscent of children’s toys.
Director Chris DeCarlo keeps it all from becoming too corny or cutesy and makes it an entertaining homage to grandparenthood.
* “Funny, You Don’t Look Like a Grandmother,” Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 4th Street, Santa Monica. Fridays, 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 7 p.m.; Sundays, 6 p.m. Ends Feb. 25. $24.50. (310) 394-9779. Running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes.
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