“The Real (Desperate) Housewives of Columbia County Musical,” a Coward-esque evening by Carl Ritchie (book, lyrics, director) and Wayne Moore (music) that is set in a small town in the Hudson Valley, where local women and rich, spoiled “weekender” wives exchange musical barbs, proving that country life can be a bitch for everybody. The show, which has been a crowd-pleaser at Taconic Stage upstate, has a big city run and NYC premiere from March 7 to 28, 2013 at the Laurie Beechman Theatre (downstairs at the West Bank Cafe, 407 W. 42nd Street). Shows are Thursdays only at 7:00 PM The running time is one hour.
Thinly guised as the confessions of four 40-something women on reality TV, this four-character musical spotlights the culture-clash between spoiled, egocentric “weekender” women and their working class “townie” counterparts. It has no reason but to delight, which it does with savvy performances, high-heeled lyrics and the poison of its cocktail-party chit-chat dialogue. The show’s songs lampoon such subjects as sexual fantasies toward your caterer, the tendency of “Cidiots” to look down their noses (what’s left of them) on the year-rounders and the bragging rights you get for Dutch ancestry if you’re from an old local family–a form of retaliation for the weekenders’ scorn. We learn from “Don’t Fool Around on Your Broker” that it’s easier to dump your husband than your real estate agent. In “Get a Little Work,” a maid lampoons her employer’s plastic surgery by giving herself a facelift with duct tape. The cast features Meg Dooley, Lisa Franklin, Constance Lopez and Diedre Bollinger.
Carl Ritchie, who is Artistic Director of Taconic Stage Company in Copake, NY, wrote the compact tuner two years ago. Ritchie is a Canadian-born playwright/director who moved from NYC to his weekend home at Copake Lake in 2002. He has a flamboyant wit and a unique eye for local color. A few years ago he was elected to a four year term on the Copake Town Board, where he also served as Police Commissioner (he quips, “My first vote as an American was for myself.”). This musical sparkles with the acute wit of an insider who has witnessed the crossfire of savvy urbanites and country people upstate and lived to write about it. Composer Wayne Moore has written music for HBO’s cartoon “Frog and Toad are Friends,” PBS’ “Frontline,” the film “Be Well” with Milton Berle, and two Emmy-nominated shows, “Down for the Count” and “Whatever Happened to Childhood?, among others. This is his third theatrical collaboration with Carl Ritchie.
Taconic Stage Company presented the piece at The Lighthouse Marina Dinner Theater on Copake Lake, NY through the summer of 2011. Peter Bergman (berkshirebrightfocus.com) wrote, “In the hands of clever wordsmith Carl Ritchie you have a blast.” And Berkshire on Stage writer and critic Gail Burns summarized the fun show this way: “Ritchie has written a boffo script and lyrics and the ladies deliver the goods.” Marion Hunter wrote in The Columbia Paper, “This Taconic Stage audience came prepared to laugh, and they responded to everything with non-stop, unfettered enthusiasm.”
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