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A CurtainUp NJ Review
Curvy Widow

Getting from New Jersey to Manhattan has been a slow and klunky lately. Not so Curvy Widow. It has made the trip from George Street Playhouse to New York's Westside Theater in record time for a run from July 3rd to October 15th.

Except for the change of venue and run time, it's pretty much the same, fairly critic proof crowd pleaser — Same cast and creative team. We are therefore re-posting Simon Saltzman's review of the George Street premiere and updating the production notes. e.s.

— Dr. Doug
curvy widow
Nancy Opel (Photo credit: T. Charles Erickson)
The hardest review for me to write about a comedy, or in this instance a musical-comedy, is the one in which I am surrounded by people laughing their heads off while I sit and wonder why. I will try and explain. Curvy Widow is, unquestionably a lively mainly autobiographical musical comedy. Written by Bobby Goldman, the widow of the lauded playwright James Goldman (book writer for Stephen Sondheim's Follies and screenwriter for The Lion in Winter) it follows her sexual adventuring following his sudden demise. It has been sufficiently lubricated by director Peter Flynn so that all the participants are kept actively engaged, if not necessarily engaging.

Bobby (Nancy Opel) the titular widow is a healthy, vital, intelligent, very attractive, very wealthy and successful in her own right. She's the owner of a construction company. She has an enviable circle of close friends and attentive associates. What is her problem?

What does any woman of her ways and means do when losing her husband of thirty years? Naturally, she seeks the council and treatment of a psychiatrist (Alan Muraoka) whom we are led to understand is on a virtual family retainer. Apparently her husband (Ken Land) was a regular patient who often spent his sessions complaining about her. The psychiatrist's advice for Bobby is to "get laid."

Are you feeling sorry for Bobby yet? Just you wait. She reluctantly but determinedly goes on an odyssey of sexual encounters through internet dating, with some that include "Adult" or, as Bobby puts it, "a chapter ends, turn the page."

For Bobby, the thought of meeting a new partner through mutual friends doesn't enter the picture. What does initially enter the picture is the posh upper East Side Manhattan Penthouse that Bobby leaves in order to take up residence in a sprawling downtown loft, both elegantly designed by Rob Bissinger to also accommodate other locations.

Rich, pretty and smartly attired in a variety of colorful tops over black slacks by costume designer Brian C. Hemesath Bobby can do a quick change.

The very talented Ms Opel portrays a woman with boundless vim and vigor. After having ventured into dating sites, she is more concerned about facing a "killer or a vegan" than the ghost of her husband— who makes regular unsettling visits to her bedroom. We can see that she is neither sophisticated nor quick enough to spot a phony.

As you may deduce, the possibilities for her are as endless as the loonies, kooks and weirdoes whom she meets, discards, or is otherwise rejected by. She and the others playing multiple roles sing a number of composer-lyricist Drew Brody's lilting tunes that range from clever to crass, and are delivered mostly by Opel. Why she allows herself in a rather extended scene to be seduced by a clumsy oaf (Muraoka) who admits to having prostate trouble is puzzling? Ken Land and Christopher Shyer gingerly portray other gentleman who drop in and out of Bobby's life.

A trio of girlfriends (Andrea Bianchi, Elizabeth Ward Land, Aisha de Haas) serve mostly as a kind of Greek chorus without really being of any useful service to our consternation-fueled heroine. Going shopping with her for condoms is good for a laugh as is a group visit to a Dr. Doug for some sexual aid products.

This is a show that doesn't pretend to be more than a shallow diversion for those who fantasize about the sexual possibilities and proclivities of middle-aged women. I'll leave it to you to decide if all this is enough to be satisfied?

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Curvy Widow by Bobby Goldman (book) and Drew Brody (Music and Lyrics)
Directed by Peter Flynn
Cast: Nancy Opel (Bobby), Ken Land (Jim and others), Andrea Bianchi (Caroline and others), Elizabeth Ward Land (Heidi and others), Aisha de Haas (Joan and others), Alan Muraoka (The Shrink and others), Christopher Shyer (Per Se and others)
Scenic Design: Rob Bissinger
Costume Design: Brian C. Hemesath
Lighting Design: Matthew Richards
Sound Design; Ryan Rumery and M. Florian Staab
Orchestrations and Arrangements/Music Supervision: Wayne Barker
Choreography: Marcos Santana
Running Time: 80 minutes, with no intermission
Westside Theatre Upstairs, 407 West 43rd Street, NYC
From 7/02/17; opened 8/03/17; closing 10/15/17
Performances: Monday at 8PM, Tuesday at 7PM, Wednesday at 2PM and 8PM, Friday at 8PM, Saturday at 2PM and 8PM, and Sunday at 3PM.
Reviewed by Simon Saltzman during its premiere at George Street Playhouse in New Jersey on May 5th.

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