‘Curvy Widow’: A comedic look at the difficulties of starting over

PHOTOS BY T. CHARLES ERICKSON

Nancy Opel stars in “Curvy Widow,” which is at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick through May 21.

“Curvy Widow” received an enthusiastic crowd response when I saw it at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick last week, and it has been announced that an off-Broadway production — with the same cast — will open at the Westside Theatre on Aug. 3 (after previews begin July 20).

I have to say, though, that I found myself immune to its charms.

Nancy Opel, Tony-nominated for “Urinetown,” stars in this musical comedy about a middle-aged woman, Bobby (based on “Curvy Widow” playwright Bobby Goldman), who tries to get on with her life after her husband Jim (played by Ken Land, one of six actors who handle a variety of roles) dies in the middle of the first song.

From left, Aisha de Haas, Elizabeth Ward Land, Christopher Shyer and Nancy Opel in “Curvy Widow.”

The music (by Drew Brody) is serviceable but bland, the jokes often crass and obvious. But what really sinks the play is Bobby’s flaming narcissism. Her move from uptown to downtown (in order to be with the “young and hip” instead of the “old and hipless”) is seen as a monumental achievement. Her friends Caroline, Joan and Heidi (played by Andrea Bianchi, Aisha de Haas and Elizabeth Ward Land, respectively) exist only to cater to her needs. It’s like “Sex in the City” — if Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda were there just to breathlessly await what Carrie is going to do next.

Jim’s ghost keeps hanging around, too, for no particular reason; he simply doesn’t seem to have anything better to do. Alan Muraoka plays the most unrealistic therapist ever, giving Bobby a “medical directive” to “get laid.”

Much of the humor comes from Bobby’s rocky quest to find love again. The last time she went on a date, a shrimp cocktail was $1.50, she moans. She suffers through the extreme indignities of the online dating process (where she posts under the name “Curvy Widow”) and the pathetic losers who constitute her parade of suitors.

“Single men my age are awful,” she says. “There’s a reason why they’re alone.”

Finally, though, she meets a real mensch, played by Christopher Shyer. But will it work out?

I won’t tell you, except to say that I found the ending puzzling and unsatisfying. 

“Curvy Widow” runs at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick through May 21; visit georgestreetplayhouse.org.

One thought on “‘Curvy Widow’: A comedic look at the difficulties of starting over

  1. Nobody supports the arts in NJ more than Jay, but he understands that a critic’s job is not to be a cheerleader for theaters (even those as usually excellent as George Street), but a coach for theatergoers. I found Curvy Widow to be modestly amusing, musically modest and very predictable. Its outstanding trait is its nonstop exhibition of the egomania by the author, who does not change her name in writing this tribute to her supposed brilliance and sex appeal and, when her addressing her affairs with a series of married men, does not ponder what her reaction would have been if her husband had had a mistress while alive.

    I am sorry our tickets subsidized her self-worship.

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