THEATER REVIEW: Lowbrow at times, ‘Housewives’ still prepares tasty treat

The Real (Desperate) Housewives of Columbia County/ By Carl Ritchie and Wayne Moore/ Taconic Stage Company/ Copake Lake

CARL RITCHIE, WHO DIRECTS as well as authors, has gathered five great-looking broads (the cream of the singing actresses around here) and created a broadly sassy musical revue. He pumps up and affectionately satirizes their individual proclivities. If reality flags, he just piles on some outrageous fictional stuff.

These characters are all climbing up the hill but are not yet over it; and they probably won’t be until they have each reached 110. To audience-happy eyes, they all seem DNA- and/or surgeon-blessed.

Unfortunately, the opening song is so banal that Ritchie fans may worry that the wit-maven has lost his mojo. Then comes some snappy dialogue. Whew! He hasn’t lost it. Then another plunge (“Men, Men, Men” lyrics):

They don’t pull their weight

They don’t do their bit

And they leave the toilet seat up when we sit.

Etc, etc. C’mon Carl.

Of course, the man proceeds to hilariously bulls-eye some obvious but deserving targets: the upscale county lifestyle; the “friending” lifestyle; the boozy lifestyle; the shopping lifestyle; the cult of local-family-longevity lifestyle. (“If you’re not Dutch, Then you’re not much!”) This last status-by-ancestry lives everywhere in geographical idiocy waiting to be deflated by Ritchie. The “folkway” is dumber than status-by-dollars or status-by-political power. Go boy!

Speaking of idiocy, “Cidiots! Cidiots!,” is the locals’ tasty revenge number that place-kicks city interlopers. With it Diedre Bollinger (as Danny/Daniella) and Cathy Lee-Visscher (as Katrina) end Act I uproariously.

This Taconic Stage audience came prepared to laugh, and they responded to everything with non-stop, unfettered enthusiasm. Bass-baritone guffaws especially resonated following the sexy bits and body humor.

Bollinger gets to play the most interesting character: the local-yokel servant with a B.A. on the wall and a novel in the drawer. Her two entrances and her delivery of “Butt Cracks” are to be cherished. (Yes, I meant “Butt Cracks.” If you’ve ever hired a plumber you know what this is about.)

Face and voice kudos belong to Rachel Weisman (as Rebecca). Give this woman a still, luscious ballad. She can sing.

“I-don’t-need-to-work-too-hard-to-be-attractive-and-real” kudos go to Constance Lopez (as Carol). Besides standing around looking lovely, this person can move. We could use more of that. Her understatement may be a bit overdone, and more voice from her would not be too much.

Meg Dooley (as Melody) is stuck with the most difficult task. Trying to stay bitchy-glamorous for two hours straight leaves her saying most everything flat front and in italics, her considerable comedic gifts trapped in one dynamic.

As often happens around here, the ColCo Tony goes to Cathy Lee-Visscher (as proudly Dutch Katrina). Her emergence from goody-two-wooden-shoes to “I Want to Do — Johnny Depp” is the most delightful and creative performance of the evening. Lee-Visscher does not know how to do cliché. It’s all fresh, new, and individual.

The music by Wayne Moore is formulaic and dull, often with a predictable, half-step modulation in the middle. It seems to aspire merely to make inconspicuous reglets around the words. For the group numbers, Music Director John Moran might consider tuning up the unisons; but he has unerringly nailed the solo keys, putting each singer into her best comfort zone.

The references to bitches, asses and assholes throughout the evening seem aimed at pre-teen boys or tipsy businessmen on summer vacation. Ritchie has talent and could aim higher. It would be great to watch him continue to spin out the clever dialogue, after having hooked up with a tough lyrics editor and a better composer.

If you’re female, and you feel a bit defensive about this sly, funny evening of woman-bashing, just sit back and imagine the whole thing cast with men.

Dinner and the show costs $40. It runs Fridays, Saturdays and some brunches through September 3 at the Lighthouse Marina on Copake Lake. For info and tickets call 518 325-1234.  

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