Well-intentioned but flawed musical about the lives of seniors is really two stories in one
SPEND YOUR KIDS’ INHERITANCE by Catherine Frid and Frank Horvat (Watercourse Theatre/Fringe). At the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse. July 6 at 12:45 pm, July 8 at 10 pm, July 10 at 8:15 pm, July 12 at 4:45 pm, July 13 at 4:30 pm, July 14 at 1:45 pm. See listing. Rating: NNN
While it’s good to have a musical that focuses on the lives of seniors, Spend Your Kids’ Inheritance is severely flawed. The songs, with music by Frank Horvat and lyrics by Catherine Frid, are often effective and memorable, but Frid’s book is inconsistent and filled with unexplored subplots.
Frid’s book falls into two halves, only the first related in any way to the title. This half tells how the arrival of new resident Nelly (Charlotte Moore) stirs up the boring lives of three seniors in a home – Alice (Jillian Rees-Brown), her would-be partner Claire (Denise Norman) and Hal (Rick Jones). Nelly wants to regain control over her money, and motivates the other three to do so too, but this plan goes nowhere. When one of the four unexpectedly dies, Frid ditches the original story in favour of following the remaining three seniors, who have escaped the home.
Surprisingly, Andrew Lamb, who directed break-out Fringe hit My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding in 2009, encourages old-fashioned techniques like mugging and blackouts on comic tableaux. We tend to forget the beauty in older voices like those of the four principals. Unfortunately, keyboardist Giustin MacLean too often drowns them out.
To give the show a future, Frid will have to decide which of her two stories is more important.