“Grumpy Old Men”
(or “The 50 Year Grudge Match meets Aphrodite”)
A Review by Jason Pendergast
As the days get shorter and the evenings get longer, the time seems so appropriate for the Ogunquit Playhouse to bring to us a musical comedy about getting the most out of life, even in your senior years. The familiar “Boy meets Girl meets another Boy” story is given the AARP twist where two senior gents are vying for the attention of the new “girl” in town, while dealing with the various complexities of life that comes with more advance age (children drama, health issues, and financial concerns) while never forgetting to make us laugh with them along the way.
John (Mark Jacoby) and Max (Ed Dixon) are the best of enemies, holding on to a grudge that seems to have been going on since the Johnson administration, revolving around a girl whom they both wooed. Living next to each other in a small town, their paths constantly cross as does their insults. Despite this, those around the two enjoy these geezers and their playful bickering, as it often adds so much charm of this small midwestern town where this is set. Things radically change, however, when free spirited literature teacher Ariel (the radiant Leslie Stevens), moves into a long disused home nearby and is immediately pursued by the two infatuated men. This of course, fuels their rivalry and causes more anxiety for the men, their children (Kevin Massey and Laura Woyasz), and the various town folks. Add in a feisty and determined IRS agent (the hilarious Brenda Braxton) and the spacey but lovable shopkeeper Punky (the ever scene stealing Sally Struthers) and you got the right recipe for a 2 ½ hour chucklefest.
After a couple of more serious musicals, Grumpy Old Men gives us, the viewers, a much-needed light hearted rom (and somewhat rauch) com that helps balances out the season. With wise cracks over achy body functions, Viagra and generational misunderstandings, the show knows how to make crotchety an art form. The songs give the show another lift as well, with my favorite being “Snyder Comes Along”, allowing Braxton to really show off her dancing and singing chops.
Grumpy Old Men creeks out the laughs, flows along like a good Prune Juice cocktail and reminds you of “Then Good Ol’ Days”. It’s the perfect way to laugh and embrace our mutual aging with a room full of your closest friends. Walk, run, use a wheelchair- just go see this. You won’t regret it.
Grumpy Old Men is running now through September 1st. For tickets and show times, call 207-646-5511 or visit their website at Ogunquitplayhouse.com.