Encore Michigan

‘Life Begins at 50’ at The Riverbank

Review July 23, 2021 Paula Bradley

MARINE CITY, MI–Do you remember when you were a child, and you loved seeing your grandparents? And you thought: They are so awesome, but thank goodness I’ll never forget the name of my favorite actor, or lose my glasses all the time?  And then your grandparents chuckled and said: Someday it will be your turn.  And you were certain your turn would never look like that.  Then one day you woke up and thought: They were right.

The comedy Now Comes the Fun Part! Life Begins At 50!  is on stage now at The Riverbank Theatre in Marine City, workshopped there by co-authors Lynne Halliday, James Hindman, Mark Waldrop (lyricist) and Jeffrey Lodin (composer).  The show is directed by Hindman, whose  popular works Popcorn Falls, What Doesn’t Kill You and Pete n’ Keely have been seen previously on The Riverbank and Snug stages.

Now Comes the Fun Part! features a small cast (Jason Oyler, Christy Kreidler, Bryan Sawyer and Anita Newby) as four un-named characters who revolve through a series of both musical and non-musical vignettes addressing the joys—and perils—of mid-life. From redecorating rooms after the kids move out, to retirement, internet technology, online dating, colonoscopies, hip replacements, recurring memory issues and more, any viewer who has made at least 50 trips around the sun will find something to relate to, and to laugh about!

The show’s music features witty lyrics set to a variety musical styles, performed as solos and in ensemble. A few of the songs are not very memorable in a melodic sense, but the funny lyrics make them relevant and entertaining.  Some jazzy solo numbers do stand out (Sawyer in “Things I Will Not Miss,” Newby in “Mr. Wallpaper”) but the most entertaining numbers involved the full ensemble.  Act I ends with “Gonna Get the band Together,” during which cast members vocalize the sounds of their “air” instruments when reuniting their high school garage band; in Act II, “K-Tel Songs of the 70s and 80s” is a hilarious succession of common mid-life complaints set to familiar hit tunes.

While mostly comedic, there are some poignant moments in the show as well, addressing topics like Alzheimer’s and gay family members.  But the show doesn’t linger on the serious side too long; you’ll be nodding along and laughing again soon enough.  There’s also an element of audience participation in a couple spots for a bit of extra fun.

A few things are certain for viewers of this show:  1) if you ever prep for a colonoscopy, you will thoroughly read all the directions first; 2) Ms. Newby will remember the name of that actor by the end of the show; 3) you will relate to and laugh at all those things your grandparents warned you about.  While Now Comes the Fun Part! Life Begins at 50! is appropriate for all ages (there are  a couple instances of mild language), the subject matter will be best appreciated by the mid-life and older set. The production is scheduled to run through July 25, 2021, but check www.RiverbankTheatre.com for potentially added dates.

Week of 5/23/2022

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