Sadly stagnant ‘Sex Tapes for Seniors’ 

In his program notes, “Sex Tapes for Seniors” creator Mario Cossa writes that what started out as a “fun romp around older adults’ sexuality” grew to encompass some of the challenges that baby boomers face.

And that’s exactly what’s wrong with this overpopulated new musical (seven principals and 11 “supporting characters”). It’s trying to do too much, and not doing it very well.

The idea of old hippies in a retirement community producing a series of educational sex tapes for seniors is intriguing.

But here, the residents don’t even come up with that idea until almost the end of the first act. And then the idea is never fully developed. What’s in those sex tapes exactly, anyway?

The principals are three bickering couples — one heterosexual, one lesbian, and one gay — and a kooky widow (a buoyant Nancy Helman Shneiderman), and we’re meant to care about their various relationships and issues.

But the characters are so sketchily drawn, and so stereotypically portrayed, that we really don’t. Nor do we care about the youthful narrator — the community’s overly perky yoga teacher who’s amazed that old people are funny and sexy; her presence is both extraneous and faintly condescending.

It doesn’t help that Cossa’s choreography and staging are chaotic and confusing; that the set is too cluttered; that only a few of the songs, and a few of the singers, are really good; and that the dialogue is too often either banal or coy.

But some of the songs — in genres ranging from rock to tango — are winners, with lyrics by Cossa, who also wrote the book. Music is by Tyler Flanders; additional music is by Joshua Raoul Brody and Scrumbly Koldewyn, who provide live accompaniment along with Roberta Drake; and more music is by Cossa, David “Gus” Garelick and Sally Ember.

Among the best songs are an infectious “Snow and Fire” (“There may be snow on the roof, but there’s fire down below!”); a raunchy “Rap for Aging Queens”; “Learn to Adjust/A Girl’s Best Friend,” a witty duet between two couples; and a tender ballad exquisitely sung by tenor David Vargo with Elizabeth Dunne.

Songs like these demonstrate just how funny and poignant this show could be if it were pared down to its essence in terms of plot, actions and characters, and if it received a less community-theater type production.


Theater Review

Sex Tapes for Seniors

Presented by STFS Productions

Where: Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th St., San Francisco

When: 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays; closes Aug. 22

Tickets: $30 to $40

Contact: (800) 838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com

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Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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