“Now what?” the cast asks at the end of the opening number to, The Kids Left, the Dog Died, Now What? playing at the New Musical Theatre Festival. This musical, which consists of sketches about various aspects of middle-aged and elderly life, is sweet and entertaining, but in the end, it fails to satisfy.
The scenes and songs are short, which at times is a good thing, but ultimately fail to result in any lasting impression or impact on the audience. The characters are more caricatures, representing aspects of middle-aged life, instead of actual individuals. The songs that they sing are equally as generic, with little to no singularity or distinction about them. “Nothing Like a Girlfriend” is a sweet melody about the necessity of friendship before, during and after marriage, and “Headlights, Taillights,” creates several chuckles as it laments the joys and burdens of visiting relatives. One of the highlights of the evening is the song, “Casserole,” as a trio of women prepare to drop in on a newly single man with dinner in hand.
There are some moments of truly sly humor, such as a two older women attempting to shimmy like a younger one but quickly abandoning the attempt because of their bad backs. However, other songs, such as “I’m On My Way,” which describes a man’s preparation to move back to New York, are simply bland. The melodies, the words, and the overall emotion are nothing that hasn’t been written, sung or seen before.
The skits are witty, as are the performances, and it is tempting to think of what this show might have been like, had it been about a single couple coping with middle age and a newly empty nest. That could have been truly compelling, and even more easy to relate to. The evening’s smorgasboard is sweet, but not exactly satisfying. It’s cute. It’s entertaining. And it’s funny.
But now what?