by: Michael Lee
Brace yourselves folks. The male of the species is about to undergo a ‘musical roasting’ the likes of which you’ve never experienced before.
Some might argue that women have been lovingly ‘standing by their men’ for way too long. Lets just say Ruthe Ponturo and John Thomas Fischer’s ‘Til Divorce Do Us Part’ (which opened in previews Friday, February 7th, at The Daryl Roth Theatre, NYC) capitalizes on this idea and offers up a bawdy, oft times shocking musical revue that will get your dander up, and have you singing and laughing out loud.
The new show is a fascinating ‘hybrid’ of many types and styles. It’s part musical revue, part reality-TV therapy, and part homage harkening back to the days of Vaudeville. One truly gets the sense that anything can happen here.
They say write about what you know. Ruthe Ponturo (who performed in the show’s original sold out run at The Triad, NYC) has done just that. In fact when Ponturo’s husband abruptly pronounced he wanted a divorce, you can bet he probably had no idea this spunky, savvy housewife would harbor such an impressive musical arsenal up her sleeve. Ruthe’s musical muse isn’t simply alive and well here, it’s on fire! Together with John Thomas Fischer they’ve given birth to a host of songs that will knock your socks off.
Filling Ponturo’s shoes is the supremely engaging Erin Maguire, in addition to original run veterans Dana Wilson & Gretchen Wylder. Wilson’s strong, strikingly blond frame sports an operatic cadence that blows the roof off the joint, and Wylder’s wide eyes, curvaceous figure and fearless comedic acting chops are as fine-tuned as her singing voice. Special attention must be paid to Maguire, however, as she not only bears a startling resemblance to Ponturo, but tackles every song with an earnest, viscerally poignant clarity.
John Thomas Fischer shines as ‘Dottie,’ the wise cracking ‘Hostess’ who reads letters eliciting advice and counsel. Fischer’s comic timing is impeccable, and he serves as the perfect ‘male/female counterpart’ to the talented estrogen infused trio who ignite the theatre with numbers like ‘Better Mad Than Sad,’ ‘ ‘If Only You Were Gay’ and ‘You Were A Whole Lot Cuter When I Loved You.’
Special kudos must also be given for stellar direction by Mark Waldrop, beautiful set designed by Mitchell Greenberg, eye catching costumes from Paloma Young and Ashley Rose Horton, and pitch perfect sound and lights, from Nevin Steinberg and Julie Duro.
Keep in mind,‘Til Divorce Do Us Part’ is not for kids. It strikes me as no accident when a reference is made to ‘The Book Of Mormon’ musical while talented Erin Maguire pours forth with the beautiful, emotionally stirring ‘You Remember.’ No doubt the show will shock some of its audiences with the occasional graphic, four-letter musical musings – but rest assured the creative brilliance always shines through, elevating the material.
In short; Ponturo, Maguire, Fischer, Wilson and Wylder have set the scene for musical magic of the most wicked, and mischievous order.
More importantly, this show isn’t simply a musical revue or a ‘revenge fantasy.’ It’s a survivor’s story. The plight of any woman who’s been dumped, especially after decades of devotion is not only valiantly championed here, but will leave you singing its tunes long after you leave the theatre. Instead of that next trip to the shrink, see ‘Till Divorce Do Us Part’ instead.
Video Filmed By Michael Stever
DR2 Theatre, 103 East 15th Street – www.telecharge.com – 90 minutes no intermission
*Photos: Carol Rosegg