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You Haven’t Changed a Bit and Other Lies

The latest legit effort from longtime TV scripter Jerry Mayer ("The Facts of Life") is a musical collaboration with composer son Steve that explores the highs and lows of life after 60. Despite some vocal intonation problems, the engaging ensemble make the most of "You Haven't Changed a Bit and Other Lies," though the book lacks depth.

Cast:
Liz - Marla Adams Audrey - Jennifer Darling Steve - Steve Franken Sarah - Diane M. Hurley Mike - Peter Jason Eddie - Steve Susskind

The latest legit effort from longtime TV scripter Jerry Mayer (“The Facts of Life”) is a musical collaboration with composer son Steve that explores the highs and lows of life after 60. Despite some vocal intonation problems, the engaging ensemble, under the able direction of Caroline McWilliams, make the most of “You Haven’t Changed a Bit and Other Lies,” though the book has as much depth as a two-hour episode of “Love Boat.”

Featuring an 18-tune score, the problems of aging are filtered through three married couples who have known each other for more than 35 years. Retired TV hack Steve (Steve Franken), fearing he is losing his mental faculties, wallows in self-pity (“Bye Bye Ol’ Brain”); his wife Sarah (Diane M. Hurley), suffering from a mid-life crisis, is tempted to indulge in a dalliance (“What Am I Doing in This Room?”) with family friend Eddie (Steve Susskind). Meanwhile, Eddie’s wife Audrey (Jennifer Darling), along with Sarah and Liz (Marla Adams), lament their losing fight against the physical ravages of gravity (“Upper Arms”).

One of the more effective scenes features Liz’s efforts to get her ever-ready hubby Mike (Peter Jason) to lighten up on the Viagra (“Isn’t It Time We Called It a Day, That Way?”). For his part, Mike, who’s trying to match the appetites for sex, rich foods and alcohol of his youth, is waging a losing fight against a fast-approaching physical breakdown. In addition, the men ponder their changing relationships, with their wives becoming the dominant partner (“The Role Reversal Tango”), while Mike and Eddie duet over the depressing economics of living on a fixed income.

The ensemble exhibits more exuberance than terpsichorean skill in the simply staged dance numbers by Miriam Nelson. What does work is the synergy that exists between these folks. Deserving special mention is Franken (Blake Edwards’ “The Party”), whose understated antics are the comical highlight of the production. Also praiseworthy is Adams’ portrayal of long-suffering Liz, who finally has had enough of her strutting peacock of a husband, decrying, “You need a pill to make your fortunes rise.”

Composer Steve Mayer offers effectively supportive musical accompaniment to the proceedings. The production is also enhanced by Scott Heineman’s beautifully wrought seniors’ condo setting, supported by Joe Morrissey’s mood-enhancing lighting. Though uncredited, the costumes do much to enhance the personalities of each character.

You Haven't Changed a Bit and Other Lies

Whitefire Theater, Sherman Oaks; 99 seats; $25 top

Production: An Emily Mayer presentation of a musical play in two acts, book by Jerry Mayer, music by Steve Mayer, lyrics by Jerry & Steve Mayer. Directed by Caroline McWilliams.

Creative: Music director/keyboardist, Steve Mayer. Sets, Scott Heineman; lights, Joe Morrissey; choreography, Miriam Nelson. Opened July 7, 2001, reviewed July 8, closes Aug. 12. Running time: 2 HOURS.

Cast: Liz - Marla Adams Audrey - Jennifer Darling Steve - Steve Franken Sarah - Diane M. Hurley Mike - Peter Jason Eddie - Steve Susskind

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