Nifty-50s? Only Time Will Tell


Covering the spread means more of a challenge when what you're tackling is not middle linebackers but middle age. After all, if the Eagles think it's tough and rough dealing with boo-birds, try boomers and empty-nest syndrome.

Carole Lonner has. And her middle ages romp is no Renaissance fare: "The Kids Left. The Dog Died. Now What?" is a musically comical examination of what happens when rock is replaced by a rocker and the draft letter you open is not from the Army but from AARP.

The cleverly conceived show of bones that go bump in the night at a time when Viagra Falls seems a logical spot for second honeymooners continues up to Nov. 22 at Society Hill Playhouse.

What better location than a theater now celebrating its 50th anniversary. Nifty-Fifties? Been there, done that, laughs Lonner, who abandoned a successful interior-design business for designs on musical theater at 50.

Has she lived all that's being spoofed and spun on stage?

"I have, my friends have, relatives have," she says.

"I realized there had to be something else," adds the show's one-woman band (abetted by a quartet of quality performers on stage) of what went through her mind "when the kids left and the dog died — the dog's name was Jacy, by the way."

Lonner glommed on to studying music, a forever passion of hers, and found through word of mouth — a lyrical litmus test, so to speak — top teachers. "I traveled everywhere to learn."

A little travelin' music — and away she went.

"TKLTDKNW" is her first breakout success on a journey that began Jewishly at the JCC in Bloomfield, Mich., the area she had called home before moving on up, out and east to New York.

So, take her out to the big leagues? Crackerjack dialogue helps. And as far as that Little League number in the show, in which two characters meet while watching their grandkids play ball?

The batter was up in real life, too: "I met my second husband at a Little League game," watching their grandchildren play, says Lonner, lonely no more after her first husband had died.

The show's starting lineup may have been audiences in their 50s, but recent audiences have gotten younger, she claims — a sort of "Benjamin Button" of boomers.

And if Dover sole is the sole dish to get highlighted as a recurring theme about what happens when a night out at a restaurant is replaced by dinner for one, it does get its just desserts by evening's end.

And so has Lonner. A major career break after breaking with her first career … a show that's gone from the New York Music Festival to Society Hill Playhouse … well … "Now What"?

Now she details working on a "charity project," of "songs about crises to get people through."

It's through? After enjoying the quickly paced 75-minute production, one theater-goer on the first row looked at the empty stage before him and pondered what to do after the matinee landed him back in reality at 3:15 p.m.

He looked over at his partner, shrugged and asked the ultimate question: "So," he said. "Now what?" 


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