Widowhood is rarely treated as a comedic subject, yet for almost 80 minutes, the audience is laughing and smiling at Curvy Widow, the new musical at the Westside Theatre. Jim and Bobby have been married for over 30 years. They are two halves making one whole, so when Jim, a famous writer, dies, Bobby is left unmoored. Based upon playwright Bobby Goldman’s own story, Curvy Widow, follows the character as she begins to “Turn the Page” to start her life anew.
Jim’s death happens almost immediately and is done mid-song. With the support of her friends (Andrea Bianchi, Aisha De Haas and Elizabeth Ward Land), Bobby changes her life, moving downtown and changing her lifestyle. Then she enters the dating pool. This provides the major source of humor for the play. There are jokes and songs about computer dating sites and the embarrassment of buying condoms for safe sex. Then there is a series of bad dates. One guy cuts the date short to go home to his dog and Bobby begins dating married men. Finally she meets a nice guy her friends refer to as “Per Se.” Although their relationship gets stronger, Bobby realizes that she wants to keep exploring her freedom and her options.
The subject and characters will appeal to those who can identify with the situation, either through a friend or having lived it. I wonder why Goldman chose not to give the couple any adult children, often a source of conflict and possible humor.
At the performance I attended, the audience loved Curvy Widow, and it’s understandable, given the presence and the talents of the vivacious Nancy Opel. With an audience predominantly composed of women, Opel connects immediately. She looks real, and it’s easy to identify with her. Opel is dynamic and has a strong voice. Her Bobby is strong, sarcastic and sexual.
At various intervals, specifically when Bobby is doing something significant, like preparing for her first sexual experience, the “ghost” of her dead husband shows up and resents her moving on. My friend, a curvy widow herself, immediately identified with the story, even the presence of the dead husband.
Curvy Widow is certain to become quite popular with ladies who will attend the show in groups. The Westside Theater provides the perfect intimate venue for those who’ve experienced widowhood and the friends who’ve supported them.