Concept and Lyrics by Ruthe Ponturo; Music by John Thomas Fischer; Directed by Mark Waldrop
Off Broadway, New Musical Revue
Runs through 4.13.14
DR2 Theatre, 103 East 15th Street
by Shoshana Roberts on 2.20.14
Dana Wilson, Erin Maguire, Gretchen Wylder, and John Thomas Fischer in Til Divorce Do Us Part. Photo by Janine N. Adjamian.
BOTTOM LINE: With a Dear Abby premise, each song and dance exhibits divorce as a result of Ruthe Ponturo funneling her emotions into this show after her long time husband left her for a younger woman.
Ruthe Ponturo knows the recipe for a great show: two heaping cups of humor, one part seamless transitions, mix in a ballad or two, a pinch of piano, four tablespoons of talent, and sprinkle on a bit of profanity. Next, just sit back, relax, and and watch the magic happen as smiles start cooking up all around you. The thing is, anyone can follow directions. As long as you can read you can cook up a decent meal. Til Divorce Do Us Part has snappy tunes and witty lines that keep you chuckling, yet it is that of a pre-made mold.
This new musical takes its form in that of a 'revue.' That simply describes the way it was written: a conglomerate of comedic musical numbers connected by a common theme. In this case Ponturo wrote the show while in the midst of her divorce from a Broadway producer. After having been married for decades he found himself a younger lady to stroke his ego. The show's messages of divorce run true while taking a difficult situation and infusing humor into every step on the road to healing. The steps highlighted vary from the unique, wishing “If Only You Were Gay,” to classic ideas such as the notion that “Holidays Suck.”
Each musical number has Erin Maguire, Gretchen Wylder, and Dana Wilson taking on new eras and characters. From an Egyptian theme as they sing about “drowning in denial” to a song called “Scrapbook” where the ex-husband's head is cut out of photographs, every song stands out in its own way. Maguire, Wylder, and Wilson pull out all the stops time and time again with their boundless energy and the well executed comedic timing they exhibit. They do Russian accents, an Irish jig, and even a gospel number. None of it would be nearly as entertaining though without the character of Dottie, played by John Thomas Fischer. He reads and answers letters as a mock Dear Abby while playing piano.
Playing off each other all four of the performers dance, rap, hug, and harmonize. They bring their sass and infuse it into the entertaining yet expected script. My personal favorite point of the show was a serious moment near the end that also hit home their songs “Better Mad Than Sad” and “Better Glad than Mad,” reminding us that these people are in the process of rediscovering themselves and learning to cope with a situation nobody wants to find themselves in. Definitely not a show for kids or perhaps those who are still mid-divorce and sensitive, but there is some entertainment for others here. So as soon as the attorney has all of your papers initialed and assets are done being divided, head over to the DR2 Theatre for Til Divorce Do Us Part.
(Til Divorce Do Us Part plays at the DR2 Theatre, 103 West 15th Street, through April 13, 2014. Performances are Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays at 7PM; Fridays at 8PM; Saturdays at 3PM and 8PM; and Sundays at 3PM. Tickets are $75 and are available at telecharge.com or by calling 212.239.6200.)