|Nancy Opel. Photo: T. Charles Erickson|
Music and Lyrics by Drew Brody
Book By Bobby Goldman
Choreography by Marcos Santana
Directed by Peter Flynn
West Side Theatre
By Lauren Yarger
Say the words Nancy Opel and I smile. The extraordinarily voiced and comedic genius actress has graced the stage in many shows including Beautiful, Honeymoon in Vegas, Memphis, Gypsy, Fiddler on the Roof, Urinetown, Triumph of Love, Anything Goes, Sunday in the Park with George and Evita among others and I never have not loved watching her work.
She is starring Off-Broadway in Curvy Widow, the true story of Bobby Goldman, a construction company owner who suddenly finds herself alone when her famous writer husband, Jim -- that's James Goldman, author of Follies, "The Lion in Winter," A Family Affair), played by Ken Land, dies. Mostly unmemorable Music (except for "It's Not a Match") with witty and Lyrics by Drew Brody drive Bobby's book about her experiences at trying to date again. Getting a special shout out for storytelling, here, however, is Scenic Designer Rob Bissinger, who expertly changes locations (two apartments) and moods with a few props. A pair of slippers next to the bed speaks volumes. Costume Designer Brian C. Hemesath sets up quick changes, having Opel switch only tops to slip between situations in the fast-paced hour and 45 minutes.
The ensemble cast, which appears crowded on the small Westside Theatre stage as they play Bobby's friends, her psychiatrist and dates -- disastrous and otherwise -- are put through their paces by Director Peter Flynn and Choreographer Marcos Santana. Besides Land, they include Andrea Bianchi, Aisha de Haas, Elizabeth Ward Land, Alan Muraoka (standing out) and Chris Shyer.
We follow post 50-year-old Bobby as she navigates the new and strange world of online dating. Curvy Widow is her "handle" on the sites. She is at once intrigued and repulsed by the fact that hundreds of men who have never seen her (she refuses to post a photo) and who know her only by her alias, might be willing to have sex with her. We experience her first date, her experimentation with a sex site and the discovery of one match that might be different from the others. All of this takes place while she is haunted by guilt over wondering whether Jim would be OK with what she is doing -- well, maybe she's really haunted more by his ghost.
Opel throws herself into the role and sings some lovely mote combinations that made me very happy. The show is somewhat uneven, however, despite previous out-of-town runs. And it's a little hard to relate to Bobby, especially when she decides to make married men a non-committal specialty. (You might have a chance to hear from the real Booby in person, however, as she occasionally does post-show talks and answers questions from the audience).
Curvy Widow plays at The Westside Theatre, Upstairs, 407 West 43rd St., NYC Performances are Monday at 8 pm, Tuesday at 7 pm, Wednesday at 2 and 8 pm, Friday at 8 pm, Saturday at 2 and 8 pm, Sunday at 3 pm. Tickets are $79-$99: 212-239-6200; www.CurvyWidow.com.
Lighting Design by Matthew Richards; Sound Design by Ryan Rumery and M. Florian Staab; Musical Direction by Andrew Sotomayor; Orchestrations, Arrangements and Music Supervision by Wayne Barker
-- God's name taken in vain
-- Suggestive situations