In “Bosom Buddies,” the famous duet from the Broadway musical Mame, eccentric bohemian and title character Mame Dennis gives her friend, actress —and famed lush—Vera Charles a bit of advice: “I feel it’s my duty to tell you it’s time to adjust your age / You try to be Peg O’ My Heart, when you’re Lady Macbeth.”
It’s a biting observation that stings all the more because it’s true: The passing of time is inevitable, and there comes a point in every actor’s career when she no longer makes a convincing teenage Irish heroine a la Margaret O’Connell in “Peg O’ My Heart.” Instead she is cast in roles like the ruthless, power-hungry and—let us not mince the important word here—older Lady Macbeth (who isn’t that old)—a deliciously complex role that appeals to many actors, but Mame’s point here is that Vera needs to come to terms with the reality of her age, which Mame declares to be “somewhere between 40 and death.”
And while there’s plenty of life to live after 40, there aren’t many theater roles for women of this age, says Linda Zuby, a local actor and director who, at 60, knows this reality firsthand. She’s played a slew of great roles (including Lady Macbeth), but there are some—such as Gwendolen in Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest—that she’s aged out of.
While lamenting the lack of juicy roles, Zuby and a few other women decided to make a performance for themselves, something in which they’d sing the songs they want to sing, age limits be damned. The resulting revue, A View From Some Broads, to be performed as part of the Songs in the Cellar series at Four County Players this weekend, features nine women, ages 30 to 64, performing songs made famous by some of Broadway’s most legendary dames. Together, the songs tell a story about the journey from young womanhood to adult womanhood, says Zuby, who directs the show.
At the top of the performance are songs usually sung by children, including “When I Grow Up” from Matilda the Musical (it takes on a whole new meaning when sung by women, says Zuby), and moves into songs from Once Upon A Mattress and other musicals, songs that take a look at “some of the things you think about when you’re younger,” particularly the “get married to my prince kind of thing” that you buy into until your experience teaches you otherwise, says Zuby.
The revue’s second act includes “Before the Parade Passes By” from Hello, Dolly!, “Sister Suffragette” from Mary Poppins (you know the one, originally sung in the 1964 film by Glynis Johns as Mrs. Winifred Banks, a “Votes for Women” sash draped across the chest of her powder blue gown), which, Zuby notes, is as relevant today as it was decades ago.
“Bosom Buddies” that classic, frothy comment on the nature of female friendship, is in there, too, along with plenty of other well-loved numbers.
Ultimately, A View From Some Broads is “about the journey that women take,” says Zuby, a group of women reminding themselves that roles like Lady Macbeth—and for that matter, Mame and Vera—are just as good as Peg O’ My Heart.