If you have already seen “Wrinkles, the Musical,” why should you see the new performance opening Oct. 18 at the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater (WHAT)?
Let us count the ways.
First off, the cast of the new production is made up of professional equity actors between the ages of 60 and 80 who have performed on Broadway, in award-winning films and on TV. The actors have been nominated for and awarded Tony and Emmy awards, have had number one Billboard Hits and been inducted into the Music Hall of Fame.
“They are just really extraordinary,” says Naomi Turner of Chatham who, along with Wilderness Sarchild of Brewster, wrote the “Wrinkles” book and lyrics.
Twelve years ago, when good friends Turner and Sarchild were turning 60, they set out to interview over 100 women in their 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s; those interviews form the basis of “Wrinkles,” which premiered in April 2010 as a 30-minute “work in progress” at WHAT.
“There was no pretense of having connections on the level of being a play,” Turner says. Now there is “a real plot, real arc, a depth of relationships that grow.”
The play’s director is Dani Davis, who lives in New York City and on Cape Cod. She is an Emmy Award-winning writer and director and a Tony-nominated Broadway producer.
The musical score has been freshened up and made more sophisticated by adding four or five new songs and subtracting several of the original songs. Cape composer and musical director Malcolm Granger is the composer and Peter Hodgson is the arranger and musical director.
“The biggest change is that it’s now a play with a lot of really great music,” Turner says. “Before, it was more of a variety show. It was funny and fun and people loved it.”
The choreographer is Owain Rhys Davies from Wales. Davies trained at Sir Paul McCartney’s Institute of Performing Arts. Turner, who is herself a dancer and dance instructor, praises Davies’s choreography as “terrific with a great sense of humor.” She describes the tap dance that he created as “really extraordinary.”
In 2017 and 2018 “Wrinkles” had two “terrific seasons” at the Cape Cod Theatre Company (CCTC) under the direction of Nina Schuessler. Following that, the play returned to WHAT for development workshops both in Wellfleet last spring and in New York earlier this year.
With each production the play has been a little different, but it always conveys the resounding message that women with wrinkles are not invisible.
That’s right. “Old women are not invisible. They’re not to be discounted in any way,” Turner says. Older women are “real people with real brains who can do things, accomplish things, change things, and not be abused, paid less or fired at 65. It’s about strength, empowerment and growing old.” And it’s about the “hutzpah” that comes with age.
As for the play’s audience, “women are there who want to hear it and believe it,” Turner says. Yet the play does not gloss over what it means to get old and contains some “raw real stuff about getting old and loss.”
And by the way, based on the audiences at sold-out performances at CCTC, men enjoy the show, too.
The story takes place in a large, active over-55 community in central Florida called “LivingLegends Elder Alternative Project” (LLEAP). Two new residents, Aja and her wife Sal, place an ad in the “Living Legends Ledger” calling for actors, singers, and dancers over age 65 who are interested in creating and performing a musical entertainment for the community.
When the play begins, a diverse group of women ages 60 to 94 are five weeks into rehearsal for their revue called “Wrinkles, the Musical,” actually a show within a show. The group has already become close, and backstage they share their stories, both joyful and sad. All the stories within the play were those shared by Cape Cod women with Turner and Sarchild.
Each day as “Wrinkles” is in rehearsal at WHAT, Turner and Wilderness are seated in the theater. “Sometimes we rewrite the script for the next day,” Turner says. They hope that producers, partners in regional theaters and potential investors will attend the first equity run of “Wrinkles,” giving the play the chance to be produced in major cities and regional theaters nationwide. Turner says she has already heard from an interested Florida theater owner.
“The play has got a message that speaks to a population that’s really hungry for it,” she says.
“Wrinkles, the Musical” runs from Friday, Oct. 18 to Sunday, Oct. 27 with performances on Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and matinees on Sundays at 2 p.m. Preview performances will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 16 and Thursday, Oct. 17 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets holders for opening night on Oct. 18 are invited to a pre-show raw bar with a champagne toast, and a post-show reception with dessert. Tickets are $25 to $40 with student and senior discounts available. The Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater is at 2357 Route 6, Wellfleet. To order tickets, visit www.wrinklesthemusical.com and click on “Get Tickets” or call the WHAT box office at 508-349-9428.