A 50+ woman faces a second chance at life and throws herself into the modern dating world in off-Broadway’s tuneful new Curvy Widow.
More Time to Travel is specifically for over-50 travelers—bon vivants who enjoy a nice night out. So, it only makes sense that the new off-Broadway show Curvy Widow would invite us to spend an early August evening with its delightful cast and story aimed right at the heart of our readers.
Curvy Widow is a 90-minute musical comedy about something that may not seem that funny or tuneful on its face: what happens to a well-off NYC woman in her fifties when her husband of 30 years suddenly dies.
But this musical springs from the mind of bawdy and funny Bobby Goldman, a woman of a certain age whose story this actually is—so much that she didn’t bother changing her or her husband’s names. (Her husband was James Goldman, an Oscar- and Tony-award winning writer who worked with Stephen Sondheim.)
Bobby Goldman originally conceived her late-in-life dating tale 10 years ago as a humorous play (Cybill Shepherd played Bobby in that production), then was convinced that it would be even better as a musical. She teamed up with young composer Drew Brody, who has dreamed up 16 or so songs that are witty, current, and pure Broadway-lite. Stylistically I heard nods to Stephen Sondheim’s Company, John Kander’s Chicago, and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita and Sunset Boulevard.
Facing life head on, after a pause
In the play, Bobby (who, quirkily, runs a construction company) tries to get over the loss of her spouse by moving from Park Avenue to a gorgeous downtown NYC loft while seeing a shrink to help her move forward. He essentially tells her to get out there and start dating. Of course, “dating” today means two things: Match.com and sex. Well, in this play’s case three things: also, guilt. The guilt takes the form of Bobby’s bath-robed deceased husband showing up at inopportune times to scold her for daring to find another man, which had the audience both shaking their heads and laughing.
You gotta give Bobby credit; she goes out there to face her new life head on. The play’s title comes from her attempt to sign up for online dating and being told that, along with inputting her age, weight, and height, she needs a screen name. It’s pretty funny as she scrambles for a name that fits her without being too off-putting to possible suitors. “Curvy Widow” turns out to be an alluring online name—and the men come calling.
What happens next forms the main part of the play, and contains snappy songs with titles like “It’s Not a Match,” “The Rules for Whittling Down,” “Gynecologist Tango,” “Looking for…,” and “The One.” You may think from that last title you know where the play is heading, but the next song is called “What More Do You Need?” and there’s more after that.
About the talented players
The show has a cast of three men doubling and tripling roles and three women, mostly appearing as Bobby’s supportive and zany friends. They make a funny choral and dancing background for Nancy Opel’s Bobby.
Opel, a Tony-nominated Broadway musical veteran, has a wonderful voice and plays a mostly-smart woman who navigates entirely new territory with head-shaking bemusement about the various predicaments a curvy widow can get into. Opel may be a tad miscast in terms of age (with her silvery bob she seemed older than mid-50s) and build (more rectangular than curvy), but her heart and game sense of humor are winning.
Curvy Widow opened at the off-Broadway Westside Theater on August 3, and I was interested to read a variety of reactions to the play online. Some reviewers complained that the show makes light of the struggles of a recent widow or that Bobby’s too rich to feel sympathy for or that it’s unrealistic that a woman Bobby’s age would find so many potential guys her age to date.
There may be grains of truth in all that, but I feel like saying to those folks: “Lighten up!” This is a musical fantasy about a baby boomer looking for love. A summertime confection, it’s a little raunchy and a little silly (see above “Gynecologist Tango”) but above all it’s relatable. The preview audience I saw it with seemed amused and charmed by Bobby Goldman’s imperfect musical journey and as we were crowding out of the theater, I heard more than a few people saying, “This show would be perfect for [friend’s name]!”
Take a peek at the Sizzle Reel for Curvy Widow on Vimeo.
IF YOU GO
- Curvy Widow is playing in Manhattan at the Westside Theatre|Upstairs on 407 W. 43rd St. (and 9th), through October 15, 2017. Note that there is no intermission in the 90-minute production. (See the Curvy Widow website.)
- A friend and I had dinner before the show at nearby Marseille, a large French-themed bistro. This place is a standby for me before a Broadway show because they have great food and wine and understand about getting you out the door in time for an 8 pm curtain.
- TodayTix.com (see related “Last-minute Theater Tickets at a Discount” article) periodically offers discount tickets to Curvy Widow.
- If you’re traveling to New York and want to make your destination “Off-Broadway,” Time Out New York catalogs the dozens of Off-Broadways shows along with reviews and ticketing information.
All photo credits: Matthew Murphy
Disclosure: Although we were invited guests of Curvy Widow, any opinions expressed in this post are our own.