Real Men: The Musical
This hilarious trope about middle-aged men will provide many laughs for any member of the audience, male or female.
The new musical Real Men loosely follows the lives of three middle-aged males, dealing with the typical middle-age woes of the modern man. Though at its core there is a story, this is more a series of vignettes than anything else. Seamlessly weaving from one man to the next, each scene is a demonstration of any one of the many impediments which said man faces on a day to day basis—lack of sexual activity, frustration with wife/child, et al., or a variation on the internal struggle with the “id,” which in this case always come back to the quest to define that sheer essence of being a man.
Clearly a passion project, two of the three male actors of the cast are the previously named co-creators—Paul Louis and Nick Santa Maria. Both play their roles with comedic expertise, and as is evidenced by the quick-witted dialogue, these analogies and metaphors for male strife are derived from a very real place. Rounding out the cast is Stephen G. Anthony, who—thanks to a razor sharp sense of comedy—fits right in.
Originally performed in a cabaret style environment at the Laurie Beechman Theatre but now at New World Stages, the comedy in the show varies from ironic to obscene, with the latter being preferred. Song after song brim with perversity, and for the most part the witty lyrics succeed in staying fresh. For a show with such specific subject material, the humor is varied and—as a credit to the writers—there is little repetition between jokes.
As with any comedy: pace is everything. Fittingly, director David Arisco manages the humor with a fine-toothed comb. Subtle when needed and obnoxious but with purpose, this show is filled with laughs from beginning to end. Backed by the wit of the book and lyrics and an unapologetic cast, Real Men sticks to what it knows best and delivers 90 minutes of gut busting fun.
Real Men: The Musical (reopened December 10, 2015 – January 2, 2016)
New World Stages, 340 W. 50th Street, in Manhattan
For tickets, visit http://www.RealMentheMusical.com
Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission
I had the pleasure I seeing this show on Saturday night, and it really is a tremendous amount of raucous fun (with some wistful, thoughtful numbers to round things out). The performers all have great comic timing and lovely voices. It’s always a pleasure to watch seasoned theater pros at work. (And I’d like to include a shout-out to the musical director/pianist and the drummer, who both do a marvelous job; again, it’s a pleasure to watch polished pros do their thing.)
The direction is crisp, and the use of puppetry is extremely clever.
Now, some of the humor is a bit obvious, but that’s very much in the service of the show being a complete and definitive statement on its subject matter. Men not asking for directions is a comedy trope, but when, in the same bit — readings of nuggets of wisdom from The Book of More Men — Nick Santa Maria succinctly deadpans “We know about batteries,” there is a pause as the completeness of the statement sinks in and then wild laughter and applause.
Regardless, there wasn’t a single musical number or joke that didn’t land with the audience on Saturday night.
Here’s hoping Real Men gets a longer-term perch off-Broadway with better production values (as it apparently had in productions in
Miami and Los Angeles) — this production was clearly done on a shoestring; NYMF participants have to act as their own producers.