Chatham Courier/Berkshire Bright Focus
LA COUSINE GERMAINE
As musical revues go, so goes the nation. At least that was the theory I grew up with in New York City. There was a middle ground between the Broadway of Leonard Sillman with his fabulous New Faces shows and the off-Broadway, downstairs cabaret shows of everyone else. They were all witty, clever, facile, and featured performers like Mary Louise Wilson, Jane Connell, Eartha Kitt, Maggie Smith and Beatrice Arthur. I know there were men there too, but these women just stuck out with their individuality and brilliance.
Two women who bring their own particular personalities to the stage are currently working that middle ground in Copake Lake, New York in a new revue about the joys, thrills and horrors of being middle-aged, "I Know I Came in Here for Something" by Carl Ritchie. This is the first production of the new Taconic Stage Company and it is a dinner theatre experience -moving it closer to those off-Broadway experiences of the 1950s - and the women are Diedre Devere Bollinger and Cathy Lee-Visscher, also known as Woman One and Woman Two. Their male counterparts are David L. Greene (Man One) and Brian Litscher (Man Two).
Together and apart they perform about 26 musical numbers on the subject of Baby Boomers and their current place in society. It’s the sort of show that should have most of us in that category in tears, but instead you laugh until you plotz (if you are truly middle-aged). Because you laugh so much it would be wrong of me to expose the funny lines and ruin the jokes, so I will restrain myself in spite of wanting to share, share, share.
Litscher sings a song to his mother in a nursing home that could break your heart if you have ever experienced anything like this. "AM I STILL YOUR LOVING SON / OR AM I ANOTHER STRANGER PASSING THROUGH? he sings and the sting in those words strikes such a familiar chord.
Greene nearly stops the show late in the second act with his white tie and tails tribute to Viagra and other "enhancing" drugs when he’s "all dressed up with no place to go." It isn’t the situation that comes to mind at all, but it’s the number you’ll walk out of the restaurant/theater remembering for a very long time.
Lee-Visscher has many memorable moments in this show, and in particular two. The first is her paean to Cat Love and the second one is a woman who realizes slowly but surely that she has become her own mother whose "FAV’RITE WORD IS NO." She also handles much of the narrative in a sweet and silly way and duets with Woman One on a hilarious song about middle-aged women seeking some sort of validation on the beaches of Mexico.
Bollinger has many, many moments throughout the show. She has a sardonic smile that she invests in many of her lyrics and as a middle-aged woman having a late child she is as hilarious and affecting as she has been as a woman whose weight gain has given her a new sort of passionate air.
Helen Schneider provides costumes that reek of correctness. For the High School Reunion sketch she does the outlandish and for the "Bump" number she goes all out to create a Broadway that even Sweet Charity wouldn't recognize.
The show touches on the loss of memory suffered by most people as they grow a bit older. A sketch in a supermarket is hilarious as is a TV game show [SEE THE PHOTO ABOVE] for the over-qualified starring a hilarious "Ivanna" who after 27 years as co-host has grown too bored for even tears. This show has been extended several times this summer and may not be again, although the theater was full on the Friday night I saw it, so you never know.
If you are, have been, or still might become middle-aged there are joys galore in this silly little revue. Even the food was of a middle-aged sort but enjoyable for all that. It’s a different sort of night out experience filled with laughter, pasta and potatoes, a slow, hanging tear in the corner of your eye and loads of talent. I’m glad I went out to see it. You will be too.