Something awful happens in America when you turn 50. You get a letter from
AARP which, according to the five Baby Boomer stars of Too Old for the Chorus,
notifies you that you are “officially old.”  You see John Travolta on the cover of
AARP Magazine and think in shock, “When I was 23, he was the same age as
me!” This is the dilemma in which “Shirley,” “Glenn,” “Bobby,” “Faith,” and
“James” find themselves in TOFTC, the tuneful musical revue currently playing at
the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts.

Of course, it doesn’t take a magazine for you to know that you’re getting older.
There’s that “Pardon me but I’m having a Memory Moment” moment when you
realize that you no longer recall all the answers on Jeopardy, and inform your
friends that you need to start taking Gecko Balboa (pardon, that should be
ginkgo biloba).

“Memory Moment” is just one of the many clever and spot-on accurate musical
numbers written by Marie Cain, Mark Winkler, and Shelly Markham for Too Old for
the Chorus, performed by a sensational quintet of “officially old” but still very
young at heart and in talent musical theater vets: Eileen Barnett (Shirley), David
Holmes (Glenn), Robert Loftin (Bobby), Diane Vincent (Faith), and Robert Yacko

There’s also the “Menopause Rag,” a torchy, brassy number sung by Faith
(complete with hand-held electric fan).  Back in school at 50, Faith falls for her
Spanish teacher in the 1950s inspired “Crush,” backed up by the three guys in
letterman’s sweaters.  In yet another delightful Faith number full of one-liners, the
effervescent Vincent sings about “Yogarobics,” a “fusion class for busy people
who seek enlightenment.”

Bobby is a former musical theater gypsy who, unlike Glenn and James, was more
interested in being Fred Astaire when he grew up than in spying on the girls in
the locker room. (Can you figure out which team he ended up playing on?)  In
“Invisible,” the former Broadway hoofer complains that he’s now “invisible to the
ones who used to cast me,” though truth be told, no one in this stellar cast is
ever invisible.  Later, Bobby and Faith get to samba to the tropical rhythms of
“Late Bloomer,” a salute to talents discovered later in life.

In one especially hilarious moment, Glenn becomes a 50-year-old hip-hopper
(Droop Doggy Dog) rapping “I just don’t get it and I’m ‘Mad as Hell,’” complete
with boom box held on his shoulder and laptop in his other arm.  Holmes, who is
simply marvelous as Glenn, brings tears to the audience’s eyes as he sings the
poignant “Dog Passages,” recalling the canines he has loved and lost. “That’s
how I mark my place in time, dog by dog by dog.”

Shirley (in Barnett’s operatic soprano) becomes nostalgic for the 1960s in a
lament for lost love, “The Road Not Taken.”  And in the equally nostalgic, but this
time hilarious Act 1 Finale, “Age is Just a Number,” Shirley and her four buds recall
the hula hoop, the Magic 8-Ball, the twist, the swim, the hustle, the moonwalk,
the vogue, and who could forget—the Macarena.

Finding “an enormous lump halfway down my thighs. –What is it?  –My ASS!,” the
ladies decide to get a “Lunch Hour Lift,” which means lipo on their hips to add
fat to their lips. Getting older also means caring for aging parents, as James
must do for his dad (Holmes touchingly morphing into an 80 year old man
complete with walker) in the moving “Child is Father to the Man.”

Loftin proves himself a sensational tap dancer (after all his character Bobby did
want to grow up to be Fred Astaire) in “When Fifty Wore a Tux,” his “ode to
dressing up.”  (We get even more clues to his sexual orientation when he avows
that growing up his only role models were Liberace and Little Richard.)  A joke is
not made of Bobby’s gayness, however.  There is a tribute to this 50-year-old gay
man’s 15-year-long relationship in the exquisite “Quiet Fire” (“a quiet fire burning
endlessly”), which he duets with Shirley, who has herself been married for 23
wonderful years. There were tears in my eyes when Bobby sang “He’s my biggest
gift and success,” and kudos to the trio of writers for presenting a same gender
relationship side by side with an opposite gender one.

On a brighter note, Faith sings “Get Real Estate,” hoping that “Donald Trump is
going to make me a millionaire.” And in “The Things I’ve Learned,” the ensemble
lists the lessons of age, such as, “If the story seems too good to be true…then it’s
not.”  Next, the three (drunken) men complain that they too suffer from “MEN-O-
Pause,” when the hair on their heads moves to their backs and ears.

In the inspiring finale, our no longer young but certainly not yet old fivesome
proclaim with pride that they’ve got “Potential,” as each takes a new direction
in his or her life.

The Too Old for the Chorus ensemble couldn’t be better.  Barnett, Holmes, Loftin,
Vincent, and Yacko are consummate performers who more often than not
these days get the supporting roles. What a joy for them, and for us, to see them
center stage, strutting their stuff and showing their ageless talents (though truth
be told, for perhaps half the La Mirada opening night audience, these five are
still young whippersnappers, and Too Old For the Chorus is a nostalgic look back
at when they were only 50.)

The onstage musical quintet of musical director Lisa LeMay, Tim Emmons, M B
Gordy, Rick Keller, and John Randall couldn’t be better. Dana Solimando has
clearly had a ball choreographing a bevy of differently styled dance sequences,
Julie Keen’s costumes suit each character perfectly, and John Iacovelli’s set
evokes a coffee shop/bar and effortlessly morphs into various other locales. Neil
Peter Jampolis’ lighting and David Edwards sound design are impeccable.

Director Joel Bishoff had sworn never to do another revue because “in a musical
revue, you have to start over every five minutes and each song has to be better
than the one before.”  Lucky for us that he reconsidered this decision, because
thanks to his imaginative direction, each moment sparkles and each song is
indeed better than the one before.

Though clearly geared towards a 50something audience, Too Old for the Chorus
is entertainment for everyone from 20somethings for whom it will provide an
optimistic picture of the future as well as for retired folk who, as previously stated,
will recall nostalgically their younger days.  With Too Old for the Chorus, McCoy
Rigby Entertainment has started their new season with a most definite winner of
a show!

La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, 14900 Rosecrans Blvd., La Mirada.

–Steven Stanley
September 29, 2007

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