San Diego Theater Review: THE GEEZE AND ME (THE TENTH Avenue Arts Center)

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by Milo Shapiro on April 4, 2017

in Theater-Los Angeles,Theater-Regional

IT’S WORTH SINGING ABOUT GETTING OLDER

Perhaps the only thing worse than getting older is thinking about it. So when a nascent theater company puts on a show—a musical no less—about the fear and associated feelings regarding aging (and the odds of becoming what is referred to as a “Geeze”), some theatergoers may understandably be hesitant to attend. Fortunately, Rag Lady Productions manages to create a positive spin while dodging nothing about this sensitive subject.

The Geeze and Me is less plot than an exploration of feelings among a group of retired friends. When the group struggles after sharing a difficult emotional event, one of them suggests that they bring in a coach whose expertise is aging issues. As they dig deeper, their struggles and epiphanies are the source of most of the songs.

Comparisons can be drawn to Menopause: The Musical in that both shows are going to ring truer for attendees experiencing similar feelings and events. Thus, the under-50 crowd may be diverted, but the over-50 crowd is more likely to palpably feel the sting of aging and relate to the comicality of it all. Not surprisingly, themes include advanced-age parents, re-evaluating long term relationships, our bodies not doing what they’re supposed to anymore, and sexual  expectation. Sound like a drag? Actually, it’s not, and feels more genuine than the oft-produced Menopause. Act I is a little more of a gripe session, but the second act’s insights and progressions keep the feeling fresh and mostly hopeful without becoming trite.

In places, there are pangs of community theater: Joanne Lovejoy’s choreography is out-of-synch during “Thought I’d Be Somebody” (one of the show’s best, sung by Jesse MacKinnon); pre-recorded music, in a few places, drowned out lyrics, especially during “Social Insecurity”; and “Ladybumps”—a song about how men love breasts—was cute, but not really funny enough to compensate for cutting into the impact of the previous scenes.

Thankfully, this is followed by the highlight song of the show, the poignant ballad “Sailor,” sung by Devlin, who explores her aging character’s right to feel sexual. Also touching is one woman’s interaction with a homeless woman in the  poignant “Oh, Sister,” sung by Lorraine Devon Wilke and Erin Vanderhyde. Striking a strong emotional chord is Gabriela Nelson’s “Beauty,” in which she begs beauty to come back to her for just a short time to experience it again. Lovely harmonies appear throughout, but Act II is really where the payload is musically.

Delving into the stories of so many characters (14 actors play a variety of roles) cuts into knowing any of them deeply enough, but playwright/director Nancy Locke Capers and composer/lyricist/co-writer Hedges Capers wisely explore a varied set of themes utilizing 7 main characters without making the musical exceedingly long.

Remove any apprehension about facing this potentially heavy theme. After this upbeat presentation (and the reprise of the memorable “How Old Do You Feel?”), the declining years look more like golden years.

photos by Ken Jacques

The Geeze and Me
Rag Lady Productions
THE TENTH Avenue Arts Center, 930 Tenth Avenue
Thurs at 7:30; Fri and Sat at 8; Sun at 2
ends on April 29, 2017
for tickets ($30, $20 for groups of 10 or more),
visit SD Arts Tix or The Geeze and Me

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Mindy April 4, 2017 at 9:04 pm

I am so thrilled that this got mostly glowing reports. I know all too well that the part of the world you are performing in can be less than kind and knows every adjective that can go with that. And they mostly praised you. HOW COOOOOOL!!

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Leslee F Tipping April 4, 2017 at 9:16 pm

Great, great, GREAT show.

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Sandra April 5, 2017 at 11:10 am

Thank you Milo! The Geeze and Me has sold out several performances now!

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Lee Purser April 10, 2017 at 4:33 pm

Great Show! And there were several young people there who enjoyed it thoroughly. Would be a great thing to do for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. It’s fun and thought provoking. And the music is heavenly. if you haven’t gone yet, just go.

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