"SEX PLEASE, WE'RE SIXTY" A SAUCY, SENIOR ROMP

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BY MARILYN JOZWIK

PUBLISHED OCTOBER 12, 2017


Waukesha Civic Theatre has opened its last three seasons with a trio of fabulous musicals: “Gypsy,” “A Little Night Music” and “The Sound of Music.”

For the 2017-18 season, WCT has chosen a saucy, senior-oriented comedy, “Sex Please, We’re Sixty,” by Michael Parker and Susan Parker.

While the show does have its comic moments, it’s safe to say it’s a somewhat disappointing start to the season.

The play, directed by Peter Kao, is linear, with one joke throughout much of it. But by the middle of Act II, the one-note joke morphs into a clever and funny turn of events. Too bad it wasn’t introduced sooner.

The show is set in a cozy little bed and breakfast run by Mrs. Stancliffe (Bonnie Rohn).  The inn’s next-door neighbor Bud (Bonnie’s real-life husband, Gary Rohn) is a daily visitor who likes to see what “chicks” have checked in so he can check them out. But he does more than that. He plies the women with sweet nothings, brings them gifts, pops a few Viagra and then has his fun. Not surprisingly, his nickname is “Bud the Stud.” Variations of that moniker, are repeated throughout the play ad nauseum, as is Bud trotting off “to check his condom supply.”

Another frequent visitor to the inn is Henry (Joe Nettesheim), an awkward retired chemist who has proposed to Mrs. Stancliffe every day for the last 20 years. In the hope of getting Mrs. Stancliffe to warm to him, he has created a pill called “Venusia,” a sort of female version of Viagra which is supposed to increase the libido in menopausal women.

The three women who come to stay at the B&B are an interesting bunch and their roles well- performed. Victoria (Ruth Caves) is an unromantic romance novel writer looking for inspiration to finish her book in the quiet romantic setting. Hilary (Diane Kallas) is a friend of Henry’s who is helping him with his experiment, while Charmaine (Ann Lambert), a frequent guest, is a Southern belle with a dramatic flair. She looks forward to her liaisons with Bud, who thinks he is good for the inn’s business. As Charmaine says with relish: “That man’s engine is always running.”

Not unexpectedly, the Venusia gets into the wrong hands and Bud finds he’s got three hot-to-trot women on his hands. But when they find out Bud has been three-timing, they seek revenge, and the usual gender tables are turned as Bud and Henry end up downing the Venusia instead of Viagra.

“Let them have a taste of what we go through,” says Victoria. The other three females agree that “every menopausal woman will want to buy Venusia to give to their unsympathetic husbands.”

In a really funny, well-executed bit, Bud and Henry carry on like stereotypical menopausal women – crying, complaining about their weight, getting hot flashes. Gary Rohn and Nettesheim handle the scene with hilarious results.

Act I grinds on a bit slowly. The regular proclamations of the time by Mrs. Stancliffe – down to the second … including the term “post meridian” – wears thin, but there are some funny moments, as when Victoria and Hillary try to help Bud with his back problems and end up in very compromising positions.

I really enjoyed Lambert’s vivacious Charmaine character. She has a commanding strut and confident Southern attitude, dropping metaphors like “He was busier than a one-legged man at a butt kicking contest” or “lower than a toad in a dry well” as easily as rose petals.

Caves as the writer also is effective, especially when she recites bodice ripper lines from her own works. Caves, Kallas and Lambert mesh well as they scheme to teach Bud a lesson. Both Rohn’s Bud and Nettesheim’s Henry started a bit clumsily with their dialogue, but really picked it up in Act II as they grew more comfortable with their characters and, frankly, the plot became more interesting.

The cast also executed well the standard farce gimmick of characters popping in and out of doors, though this show is a lightweight compared to, say, Ken Ludwig’s “Lend Me a Tenor.”

Also effective were the dramatic romantic music and lighting that struck characters when their eyes met, adding some spoofy fun to those scenes.  Evan Crain’s set design is handsome and sturdy, but it might have been better to have a more clearly defined guest registration area – perhaps a taller or larger desk.

The show pokes fun at sex and the senior set and the opening night audience seemed to appreciate much of the clever dialogue and sight gags. Nonetheless, the show didn’t quite meet the standards audiences have come to appreciate from WCT.


If you go

Who: Waukesha Civic Theatre

What: “Sex Please, We’re Sixty”

When: Through Oct. 1

Where: 264 W. Main St., Waukesha

Tickets: 262-547-0708; www.waukeshacivictheatre.org