Old Globe Theatre, San Diego
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On the heels of 9 to 5: The Musical comes another “pre-Broadway tuner based on a film comedy from yesteryear about fed-up women scheming to wreak revenge upon chauvinist-pig men,” said Les Spindle in The Hollywood Reporter. Inspired by Olivia Goldsmith’s 1992 novel and the subsequent film, The First Wives Club wants you to laugh along with three middle-aged women as they strike a blow against the cheating spouses who’ve done ’em wrong. But an endless series of crass jokes and “misfired gags” produce little hilarity. You might have hoped that writer Rupert Holmes’ “crushingly unimaginative” script would be made up for by the tunes, created by legendary Motown songsters Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Eddie Holland. But these songs—a disappointing mix of “I-am-woman-hear-me-roar ballads” and a “handful of other superfluous numbers”—hardly resemble the trio’s hits of yore.
The show’s producers apparently assume its target audience will already “arrive in just the right giddy mood of sisterhood solidarity,” said Charles McNulty in the Los Angeles Times. But it’s hard to create such a mood when the stars “seem like they barely know each other.” The total lack of chemistry among actresses Barbara Walsh, Karen Ziemba, and Sheryl Lee Ralph makes the two and a half hours of tedious “R&B elevator music” nearly unbearable. The show has a few charms: It’s hard to resist rooting for the trio as they get back at former spouses and their new trophy wives, especially since Sara Chase is such a wicked delight “as all three home-wrecking vixens.” But if this musical wants to make it to Broadway, a little “creative couple’s therapy” may be in order.
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