The title should have been my first clue that I was a few decades shy of the AARP age demographic, and therefore may not find this show terribly compelling. Add to that fact that this musical wasn’t really a musical, and there was little left for me to connect with.
As a self-described “late bloomer” looking for meaning, purpose and the opportunity to do some good, Heather Taylor brings us the story of her times as an AARP job coach. Taylor’s optimistic and charming personality came through in her anecdotes and recreation of phone conversations with unemployed seniors. Part performance art, she included two likable videos of her teenaged children discussing what they knew of her volunteer position. It was evident she cares deeply for consequential work and saw this production as yet another means to reach people like herself, searching for direction after 50.
In an effort not to take herself too seriously, Taylor said she wanted to bring her AARP experience to life as a musical in order to have fun and do something new. Yet, it felt less like a musical and more like Taylor telling a story and then singing the song of which specific moments reminded her. Still, Katy Perry’s “Firework” may have been the amusing highlight of the production as Taylor sang with reserved passion and nice vocal quality.
Tacked on to the end of the production was Harriet 2.0, Taylor’s love letter to her hero, and famed abolitionist, Harriet Tubman. It would have been nice if there were a stronger creative connection between the two pieces instead of an unpredictable and abrupt shift that left me puzzling over the pairing.
Nearly everything about the production felt like a rehearsal. Taylor thumbed through her spiral bound script the entire performance, even picking up a bright green folder with disorganized sheets of music to reference during her songs.
Lighting was also an issue, and for most of the forty minutes the audience was lit better than Taylor. All these were distracting, and uncomfortable indications of a seeming lack of preparation. Her promise to be off-book by the end of her run did not redeem the clumsy handling of script and music last night. Fringe is rough and unpolished, but in this instance it was also under-rehearsed, and not in an improv kind of way.
All that said, if you receive the AARP publications and enjoy reading them, then by all means check out this production, it’s meant for you, to remind you that even as a senior struggling through a recession life can be fun, filled with surprises and even newer ventures. For those of us well under the senior mark, there are over a hundred other Fringe shows to check out, so get on it.
Rebekah rates this 2 out of 5.