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NY1 Theater Review: "Cougar The Musical"

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A new off-Broadway musical celebrates cougars, and that's not a reference to the animal. NY1's Roma Torre filed the following review.

Like a woman who tries to have it all, "Cougar The Musical" has a lot going on. The 90-minute off-Broadway tuner is funny, raucous, sweetly sentimental and romantic. And women, mostly women of a certain age, are likely to fall under its life-affirming spell.

Created by Donna Moore, it has the feel of sketch comedy that's been thoughtfully developed into a full-fledged book musical. And if the parts don't always mesh, its charms are undeniable.

We meet three women in various stages of mid-life transition. Lily is 47 years old, about to be divorced for the second time and plagued by insecurity.

Mary-Marie, a Southern spitfire, has just opened a Cougar Bar. And for the sake of anyone who's not clued in here, "cougars" are defined as older women seeking the company of younger men.

Rounding out the trio is Clarity, a successful businesswoman who's just quit her job to pursue her passion teaching women's studies.

They interact in amusing if not necessarily plausible ways and of course they each have an encounter with a young stud. Broad stereotypes, the guys, all nicely played by Danny Bernardy, are a lot of fun. But he's hysterical as a woman, Eve, the Asian manicurist.

The music by Moore along with a handful of gifted songwriters features a delightful mix of catchy pastiche and uplifting ballads. Catherine Porter sings beautifully and adds a touching seriousness to the theme. Brenda Braxton is a convincing queen of hot mamas. And to her credit, as the wise cracking Mary-Marie, Babs Winn emerges more than just comic relief.

There is a lot more to "Cougar The Musical" than you might expect. It may reach far but it also delivers for the most part. Moore and director/choreographer Lynne Taylor-Corbett know their audience well. I'm not sure about its appeal outside that target group, but I wouldn't underestimate the power of a cougar in heat.

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