When wrinkles start to hit your face instead of freckles, it gets to be seriously time to dance. That’s the lesson of “Wrinkles,” the musical produced by the Cape Cod Theatre Company, the home of the Harwich Junior Theatre. It will be performed through June 17.
Based on stories of Cape Cod women told to writers Naomi Turner and Wilderness Sarchild, the book for this musical was a 60th birthday project for them both.
They wrote in the playbill that they had their own approaches to that “monumental transition” of a birthday: one went on a three-week silent retreat to write poetry; the other went for Botox and a personal trainer.
Their reflections led them to “explore the journeys of others as they approached their elder years,” they wrote. “In workshops, interviews, and group discussions, over 100 women ages 60-95 shared their lives with us, speaking intimately about sex, illness, freedom, body image, relationships, even death. From this work, we developed a story line, created eight composite characters, and wrote lyrics for the accompanying songs.”
The play that results will take you from belly laughs to tears. You’ll see tap dance, you’ll see “Let’s put on a show!” you’ll see “I will love you ‘til you die.” You will see a woman swear about her lover that “I’m older than his mother.”
The point: Older women are human too, and have sex lives, and maybe are closer to death than they used to be, but even if “crone” or “hag,” still hold life, and pleasure, dear.
“Am I too old just because I have an appointment for a colonoscopy?” someone asks. The happy answer is “no.”
A character in “Wrinkles” dies. This person, and the one she loves, have their special moment, and the show does go on. Yes, that really happens.
So, applause for the actors: Joanne Callum Powers, Dana McCoy, Celeste Howe, Sue Lindholm, Sherrie Smith Scudder, Deb Stringham, Karen Santos, and the “Ancients,” Jan Bradbury Richmond and Carryl Lynn and a special call-out to Karen McPherson as Beulah Frost.
The production likewise was flawless, thanks to technical director Matthew Kohler and a crew that included Jack Coughlin, Marybeth Travis, James P. Byrne, Bobby Tompkins, Ed Coppola, and Caitlyn Crosby. Also contributing to the wonderful work were Abby Feinstein, Leda Muhana, Dorothy Beaton, Dana McCoy, and Nicole Gowan.
The creators of the show have decades of theater experience on the Cape. Turner, who lives in Chatham, worked to revive the Orpheum Theater and now is, according to a press release, an “avid ballroom dance competitor” who also lends her artistic gifts against “racism, oppression, human trafficking” and other causes of social justice.
Sarchild, “an expressive arts therapist, poet, playwright, and grandmother of six,” can claim her poem, “Hags and Crones,” as the inspiration for “Wrinkles, The Musical.”
Malcolm Granger, who also led the band from the keyboard, composed the music for “Wrinkles.” During the run, he’ll be accompanied by either Michael Dunford or John Jamison on drums, and Rod McCauley or Gavin Rice on bass.
Very clever costumes were devised by Frances Covais Lautenberger. Basically, they were just black pants and shirts, but with quick changes of T-shirts or other tops – including wonderful red tops for a tap number! – they could be something else.
The show was directed by Nina Schuessler with sound and projection design by J Hagenbuckle.
In a note signed by the authors of the work, the playbill offers a hope that the production “empowers you as you go forward courageously on this amazingly journey called life.”
In the row in front of this reviewer, a young woman was playing with a Rubik’s cube. The temptation was too strong to resist, so the reviewer leaned over and said, “Wow. I haven’t seen one of those since the 1980s.”
She smiled. “Oh yeah. They have a lot of variations these days, but I prefer the classic.”
Maybe this young woman heard some classic women tell their stories too. They are still good to tell.
At The Cape Cod Theatre Company, Home of the Harwich Junior Theatre
Division Street, West Harwich
Through June 17, Thursdays at 7 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., and Sundays at 4 p.m.
Information and reservations: 508-432-2002, capecodtheatrecompany.org.