By: Paulanne Simmons
July 21, 2019: There’s a new musical at 59E59 Theaters It’s called Two’s a Crowd, and it’s very, very funny. This should not be surprising, as it was written by comedian Rita Rudner and her husband, British producer Martin Bergman, who also directs. The musical has a country/pop score by Jason Eddy, who is also musical director, lead guitarist and a kind of troubadour occasionally commenting on the action.
The two individuals of the title are Wendy (Rudner) and Tom (Robert Yacko), who are mistakenly given the same room at a Las Vegas hotel. Wendy is in Vegas so she can shop and forget about the infidelity of her husband, Gus (Brian Lohmann). Joe is there to gamble and forget about his wife, who died over a year ago.
At first Wendy (someplace between 59 and 62, according to Wendy) and Tom (58) seem unlikely to ever get along. Wendy is a prima donna, supercilious and sarcastic (she reminded me of Miss Piggy at her best). Tom is down-to-earth and occasionally nasty. Wendy likes wine; Tom drinks beer. She texts but doesn’t buffet. He buffets but doesn’t text. Eventually making the best of a bad situation leads them both to bed, where the situation gets a lot better, at least until Gus arrives.
Gus proves to be a rather likable miscreant. He’s also got the best song in the show, a rock n roll tune called “We Can Fix It All.” Another highlight of the show is Kelly Holden Bashar as Lili, the Russian maid, who calmly sits down on the bed and tells Tom and Wendy the tragic tale of the death of her husband, Vitaly.
But most of the funniest lines go to Rudner: “I’m afraid to watch a television show I like. If they find out my demographic watches it, they’ll cancel it.” Sad but true.
Despite its many assets, Two’s a Crowd seems to be still in a work-in-progress. Many of the songs don’t advance the plot. A few would work better in a different place. And the set, a hotel room with a double bed centerstage, does nothing to create the supercharged excitement of Vegas.
But the show has great potential. It’s especially appealing to those over sixty who know life isn’t over yet and just wish the rest of the world knew it too.
Two’s a Crowd runs through Aug. 25, 2019 at 59E59 Theaters, between Park and Madison, www.59e59.org.
1 hour and 50 minutes (with intermission)
Photography: Carol Rosegg