A Review of Cougar The Musical

I hesitated to see a  musical called Cougar The Musical.  REALLY?  Anotherstereotypical stylized sterilization of menopausal women (AGAIN, already???) seeking satisfaction through their conquest of young men; in fact, this is FAR from the truth.  Last night, I attended a performance of Cougar The Musical  and if you’re on the prowl for a fun, engaging 90-minute musical, then you’re in for a treat at St. Luke’s Theater.  Cougar The Musical  is exactly everything that you wouldn’t  think it would be – a play of substance delivering a message with clarity and characters whose paths intersect at critical crossroads.
As a jaded New York theater goer, tired of the spectacle star-centered mega-shows, I’m constantly searching for some simple, honest dramatic stories that take risks and offers intellectual challenges for both the players and the audience.  Granted, I’m delighted to have found the work being done at TheSignature Theater as well as Second Stage Theater stimulating.  But who would have thought that a musical about Cougars, a pejorative term to describe older women having flings with young men would be among those stories to refresh my soul?
And soul this musical has—from its Charlie’s Angels trench coat trio opening number On The Prowl (for more than young men) the three women, Lily (Catherine Porter),Clarity (Brenda Braxton), and Mary-Marie (Babs Winn) create an ensemble worth going to see just for their authentic performances.  The characters are all at life transitions:  Mary Marie’s solo investment of a Cougar-themed bar, Lily’s recent divorce, and Clarity’s career changing crisis.  All 3 struggle with their roles as daughters, wives (or the denial of one in Clarity’s case), and mothers seeking that balancing act of  WOMAN-WOMEN –WOMYN.
 What’s so refreshing is how the arc of the play takes you through each of the dilemmas without patronizing or compromising the integrity of the conflict – combining comedy with pathos ( I was moved by Mother’s Love) without the sappy sentiment.  Each song, each scene, raised the stakes and engaged your brain, pulled heart strings and elicited laugh-out-loud responses to life’s conundrums AKA the double-standard.  Danny Bernardy, the fourth and ambidextrous member of the cast played all the male characters; although, my favorite was Eve, the Oriental manicurist whose polish would make them all Shiny & New.
Don’t go to see this show if you’re looking for flash, and special effects both literal and metaphorical with its pap outcomes.  But if you want to be entertained and leave the house feeling your funny-bone was tickled and your soul uplifted, then Cougar The Musical  is a purrr-fect choice! 

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