Jeanie Linders has done it again.
Depending on what you thought of the Orlando writer- producer'searlier, hugely successful "Menopause, the Musical," you will readthe news of her follow-up show as either an endorsement or awarning.
Whichever it is, "The D Word, a Musical" -- a slightly lessanti- male, girls-night-out entertainment -- looks poised to travelthe country and the globe, connecting with women who will identifywith its quartet of stereotypes, whether or not they too have been"ditched, dumped, divorced and (are now) dating."
And who knows, maybe one day Linders will write a good show withmore dimensional characters that does not settle for easy, cheaplaughs. Or maybe she will be so rich she will not have to writeanother musical.
"The D Word" is more inclusive, since two of the four women onstageare pre-menopausal and men have at least a chance of relating totheir unlucky-in-love scenarios.
There is Erica (Angie McKnight), a long-divorced businesswoman, sowrapped up in her work she has not had sex for 14 years. There isDeeDee (Maddie Casto), married for 25 years until her husband lefther for a younger woman, and Kate (Laura Wright), still ofchild- bearing age and obsessed with hooking up with someone whowill be a sperm donor. And the youngest, Jen (Sarah Hester Ross),who was engaged to her high school sweetheart until he left her foranother guy.
Conveniently, the four women meet at a speed dating event as theshow begins. Afterwards, the gals -- who have nothing in commonexcept desperation -- go out drinking and bond, at least for the90-minute running time of "The D Word."
They also sing, accenting their feelings with existing pop songs ofempowerment, from "I Will Survive" to "You Don't Own Me" to "WhatDoesn't Kill You (Makes You Stronger)." Where "Menopause"trafficked in parody lyrics to familiar melodies, at least "The DWord" does not tamper with its musical numbers.
And these women can really sing these tunes. Much of Linders'script is painfully trite, but a cast album would be worth alisten. What's more, director-choreographer Mayme Paul devisesplenty of four-part dance steps, which the cast executes withwelcome precision.
Perhaps taking a cue from some of the "Menopause" knockoffs -- like"Divorce Party the Musical," which played the Kravis Center'sRinker Playhouse twice this year -- Linders ratchets up the raunchlevel. When in doubt, she resorts to electric vibrator jokes orother anatomical references that should earn the show an "matureaudiences only" shingle.
At Thursday's opening performance, theatergoers did not respondwith the fervor they greeted "Menopause," though they eagerlyhigh-fived the cast members as they moved through the audience latein the second act.
As with "Menopause," expect the word-of-mouth on "The D Word" to bepositive, at least from the women in the audience. As far as menand theater critics are concerned, well, we are not really thetarget market.
THE D WORD, A MUSICAL
Where: Kravis Center Rinker Playhouse, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., WestPalm Beach.
When: Through Dec. 8.
Tickets: $39 - $64. Call: (561) 832-7469.
The verdict: A follow-up to "Menopause, the Musical," focusing onthe dating woes of a quartet of women, with a few handfuls offemale empowerment pop songs.
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