Commiserating about the "joys" of getting older may be the next big thing in lightweight musicals. (We baby boomers always demand attention.) "Menopause: The Musical" is quite the regional theater rage among women of a certain age. "Mid-Life! The Crisis Musical," now seeking our sympathy at the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, is an equal-opportunity whine-fest.
We've heard it all before. Often more cleverly. After a series of cliched sketches on weekend warriors and biological clocks, we were ready to call it an evening at intermission. But duty prevailed. And surprise! Perhaps owing to lowered expectations, Act II almost justified the ! in "Mid-Life!"
In "What Did I Come in Here For?" director-ensemble member Peter Mussared at least has a good senior-moment punch line to work with (jokes and lyrics by brothers Bob and Jim Walton). Phyllis March and Jerry Maggio find that "maturing is really hip" when they receive a "Big 5-Oh" invitation. At a high school reunion, the show's three ladies top each other, "Chicago"-style, in divorce scenarios, capped by Donna Waller-Maggio and Jennifer Collester Tully's ribald laments. In a touching sandwich-generation scene, Bill Hahn takes his forgetful father to the park.
Music director Jack Kohl's onstage piano accompaniment lends dignity to a pedestrian score. The cast's vocal timing and characterizations are a plus. The hopeful part of "Mid-Life!"? It improves in the second half.
WHAT "Mid-Life! The Crisis Musical"
WHEN | WHERE 2 and 8 p.m. today, 8 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday, through April 18, at Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. Main St.
INFO $16-$32, smithtownpac .org, 631-724-3700
Shocking 'Cuckoo's Nest'
Director Sarah Hunnewell and her obsessively nuanced Hampton Theatre Company ensemble honor the cruel classic "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" at Quogue Community Hall, antiseptically outfitted on James Ewing and Mary-Alyce Vienneau's state mental hospital set.
Small-time convict Randle P. McMurphy, played by Joe Pallister with a hunky, can't-help-himself exuberance for life's mischievous opportunities, has agreed to serve his sentence in the mental ward so he can avoid prison-farm labor. He realizes too late that his release is dependent on the whims of a neutered doctor (Terrance Fiore) and a manipulative nurse. Birgitta Millard imbues Nurse Ratched with such dismissive cool that you'll believe she's bloodless.
"Inmates" Andrew Botsford, William Harley, George Loizides, Leonardo Liguori, Vincent Rasulo, Ewing and Edward Brennan (delivering mystical soliloquies as The Chief) each contribute to "Cuckoo's" humor and heartbreak - literally shocking at times.
WHAT "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. today through Saturday, through April 11, at Quogue Community Hall, 126 Jessup Ave.
INFO $10-$25; hamptontheatre.org, 866-811-4111, 631-653-8955