BWW Reviews: The Barn's TOO OLD FOR THE CHORUS Strikes A Chord With Its Audiences

BWW-Reviews-The-Barns-TOO-OLD-FOR-THE-CHORUS-Strikes-A-Chord-With-Its-Audiences-20010101

In her review for Too Old For the Chorus (But Not Too Old To Be A Star), my friend-and I'm currently using that term very loosely-Amy Stumpfl told readers of the Tennessean (Nashville's daily newspaper) that she enjoyed the show, but that clearly she is not part of the show's target audience-or some such rot as that. You see, Ms. Stumpfl, heretofore considered a dear friend and a respected colleague, hasn't yet approached 50, so to hear her tell it she has no clue about the show's relation to the realities of doing just that. Well, as far as I'm concerned, she can just go ahead and su…however, I digress.

You see, I'm right smack in the middle of the show's target demographic and I'll tell you right now: Too Old For the Chorus (But Not Too Old To Be A Star) could be the musicalization of my life (well, kinda…I want the musical based on my life to be bigger, brassier and filled with gorgeous chorus boys…however, once again, I digress…) or your life, I daresay. It's fun and often funny, moving along at a brisk pace and filled with tuneful songs that fit perfectly into the story and the show, even if you're hard-pressed to remember them after (although that may not be the fault of the musical revue's creators-Marie Crain, Mark Winkler and Shelly Markham-since the memory does, indeed, start to move south once you hit the big 5-0 mark).

Too Old For the Chorus (But Not Too Old To Be A Star), directed by a young whippersnapper named Martha Wilkinson (she's artistic director at Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theatre, which celebrates its 45th birthday this year, and she has a boatload of First Night Awards and enough glowing reviews to fill the fanny packs of every mall walker briskly making their way through Opry Mills) and featuring a top-notch cast of Nashville actors, is as gentle as the best stool softener and as kick-ass (when it needs to be) as a certain little blue pill favored by certain gentlemen in the age group (certainly not me, but that's what I've been told).

However, it is not lost on me, gentle readers, that Mark Winkler and Shelly Markham helped usher Naked Boys Singing to the stage and I am particularly nonplussed by the fact that they've gone from writing about, well, naked boys singing to graying people whining. That's not a slam or a dig, it's just one of the daily realizations you come to as you get older which, despite everything, still beats the alternative.

BWW-Reviews-The-Barns-TOO-OLD-FOR-THE-CHORUS-Strikes-A-Chord-With-Its-Audiences-20010101

In Too Old For the Chorus (But Not Too Old To Be A Star), the creators bring together five people in a coffee shop known as Java the Hut (get it? I may have thrown up in the back of my throat a little) to catch up on the events in their lives and to wax nostalgic for those ear-hair-free days of yore. And while it is often cringeworthy, I have to give the creators their due: It's also charming and sometimes even moving. The creators walk a fine line and, at least most of the time, they succeed in their efforts to cast an amusing glance toward all the vagaries of life in your 50s. There's much to laugh at-you won't necessarily guffaw, but you'll chuckle, maybe even giggle-in the revue's 90 minutes, and the show definitely has its heart in the right place, even if some of the lyrics are less than stellar; but, not unlike a daily helping of Activia, it goes down smoothly, keeping things perking right along.

The score's most effective song, as least to me (who, being the wuss that I am, actually teared up), is the unfortunately named "Dog Passages," in which a character sings of the best pals who've made his life richer by their presence in it. Much like those TV commercials that feature Sarah Maclachlan singing "Angel," you'll find yourself sniffling and weeping, with no remote control to help you change the channel.




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Jeffrey Ellis Jeffrey Ellis is a Nashville-based writer, editor and critic, who's been covering the performing arts in Tennessee for more than 25 years. He is the recipient of the Tennessee Theatre Association's Distinguished Service Award for his coverage of theatre in the Volunteer State and was the founding editor/publisher of Stages, the Tennessee Onstage Monthly. He is a past fellow of the National Critics Institute at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center and is the founder/executive producer of The First Night Honors, held during Labor Day Weekend, which honor oustanding theater artists in Tennessee in recognition of their lifetime achievements and includes The First Night Star Awards and the Most Promising Actors. Midwinter's First Night, held the first Sunday in January after New Year's Day, honors outstanding productions and performances throughout the state. Further, Ellis directed the Nashville premiere of La Cage Aux Folles, The Last Night of Ballyhoo and An American Daughter, as well as award-winning productions of Damn Yankees, Company, Gypsy and The Rocky Horror Show, with Ellis honored by The Tennessean as best director of a musical for both Company and Rocky Horror.


 
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