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Paulanne Simmons

Cougars on the Prowl at St. Luke’s Theatre

"Cougar the Musical"
Directed by Lynne Taylor-Corbett
St. Luke’s Theatre
308 West 46Street
Opened Aug. 10, 2012
Friday at 8pm, Saturday & Sunday at 2pm or www.Telecharge.com
Tickets: $39.50-$89.50 (212) 239-6200
Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons Jan. 27, 2013

Men may be abandoning their wives for younger women. Women may be leaving their husbands because they’re tired of being neglected. More and more women may be raising their children in single-parent households. But Donna Moore’s “Cougar the Musical” takes a light-hearted look at the plight of women in the 21st century. And if the show won’t exactly make women forget their problems, it will certainly help them live and laugh through them.

The long-running show at St. Luke’s Theatre reveals exactly why three disillusioned women of a certain age turn to younger men for solace and sex. The three women in question are Lily (Mary Mossberg), who has just divorced her second husband; Mary-Marie (Babs Winn), an enterprising and aging southern belle who has just opened a bar catering to older, single women (aspiring cougars); and Clarity (Brenda Braxton), a researcher and professor who masks her loneliness with intellectual superiority.

While Mary-Marie searches the Internet for a male companion, Lily meets one right in Mary-Marie’s bar. Buck, the bartender (Danny Bernardy, who also plays all the other male roles), is not only young and handsome, he is also thoughtful and loving. And he’s over twenty years Lily’s junior. Clarity falls for one of Mary-Marie’s Internet finds, and apparently gives up her vibrator forever. Mary-Marie has an unfortunate mishap with her own son, but quickly gets over this setback.

The three women have commendable synergy. Winn gets most of the laughs, while Mossberg gets the romance. Braxton comes into her own with “Julio,” a ballad sung in praise of her vibrator.

It’s easy to see that in this musical, coincidence replaces sense and laughter pushes aside logic. But thanks to an upbeat score that includes ballads, blues, pop and doo-wop, lyrics that are sometimes quite funny, and Lynne Taylor-Corbett’s excellent direction, the cast easily makes the show work.

“Cougar the Musical” burst with energy and easy laughs. Although it is clearly aimed at women over forty, it’s also a great mother-daughter show. Even men will find themselves chuckling, if somewhat ruefully.

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