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Women of a Certain Age Shine in “Broads!” at the El Portal Forum

Posted By Karen Young On March 11, 2010 @ 1:40 am In Arts & Culture,Featured,spotlight,Theater | 1 Comment

BY AMY LYONS

They’re not dead yet. That seems to be the overarching message in “Broads!” a musical about four female senior citizens who sing, dance and stare down old age with sass.

The story surrounds Nilda (Ivonne Coll), Louise (Leslie Easterbrook), Elaine (June Gable) and Myra (Barbara Niles), who put on an annual talent show at a South Florida retirement village. Two of them live there, two of them are old enough to live there, and all of them refuse to let age stop them from strutting their stuff.

On stage now at the El Portal Forum, the musical is more like a musical revue that takes aim at the various ailments of aging while tackling presumptions about people over 60. It’s full of fun moments and solid performances, but it feels a little tired, as if we’re laughing at these over-the-hill attention grabbers, not with them. When crisis strikes, the women predictably strengthen their bond and triumph over adversity. There’s nothing new about the story.

The plot is weak and borderline patronizing, but the performers each bring doses of magic to the trite material. Cole and Easterbrook are particularly good, each displaying a youthful spirit and knack for self-deprecating humor. All four women have Broadway credits and three of them have Tony nominations under their belts. Their collective talent is not in question, but the script feels like an over-simplification of the aging process.

Though the show isn’t great theatre, at a recent matinée the smiles on the faces of every audience member seemed to indicate extreme satisfaction. The average age of audience members that day was around 65, and laughter of recognition rang out all afternoon.

So, is the show a success? Though this critic was somewhat underwhelmed, the target audience certainly had a blast the day I was there. I’m thinking my opinion just isn’t the most important one here.

The El Portal Forum Theatre, 5269 Lankershim Blvd. Call (818)508-4200 or online at www.broadsthemusical.com

TICKETS:
General admission: $35

Amy Lyons is a professional freelance journalist and theatre critic, with a degree in Theatre Arts and English from UMass, Boston. She started her journalism career at The Boston Globe and is a member of the Drama Critics Circle. Her articles, theatre reviews and photos regularly appear in numerous publications, including the Beverly Press, Valley Life Magazine, the Santa Monica Mirror and www.nohoartsdistrict.com

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