LAKE PLACID - Aging is inevitable, but its effects don't have to be ignored.
Acknowledging those effects doesn't have to be a grim affair, either. Four Play: the Musical attempts to educate its audience while taking a light-hearted stab at how men's bodies change while they age. It will take the stage at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts this Friday and Saturday.
Rick Wilson was inspired to write "Four Play," his first theater endeavor, after he saw "Menopause the Musical five years ago with his wife, Nancy. It started as his response to that play, but it quickly mutated into a process of hilarious self reflection that revolved around himself and three of his closest male friends, all of whom are portrayed in the musical.
"I had a story that I wanted to tell," Rick said. "Why should women have a monopoly on this? It got me thinking, wait a minute, we can be laughed at too."
As portrayed in the musical, the real-life men met in college. The musical follows them on their journey as they age together and touches on different stages in their lives. Laughter is a prevailing theme that makes itself known in the form of immature jokes, nervous interactions with a "perfect 10" woman and the kind of ribbing and jeers men frequently trade over a beer or on the golf course.
"One of the things that is so true with men, and maybe it's the reason women live so much longer than men, is women can talk about health issues before they get out of hand," Rick said. "Men don't do that."
Nancy called the play an "adorable message of friendship," but it also discusses some serious issues, like erectile dysfunction and cancer screenings.
"Rick has found a way to incorporate being on the inside group to the entire audience," Nancy said. "He takes you on an emotional roller coaster with this play. As the play draws to a close, the audience always wonders how it's going to end. It ends with you laughing."
Although it touches on things most men can relate to as they age, Rick said the musical is anything but typical. It bucks a trend of subversiveness that Rick said is all-too-prevalent in entertainment these days.
If you go ...
What: "Four Play the Musical"
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Where: Lake?Placid Center for the Arts, 17 Algonquin Ave., Lake Placid
How much: $25/adults or $22.50/seniors
More info: 518-523-2512
There are no swear words in Four Play and the jokes never cross a line into profanity.
"When I consider the stuff coming out of New York City that's touted as great, I look at my wife and wonder what the message is," Rick said. "After a while it becomes gratuitous. People can go to Four Play and they're not going to be embarrassed. It's really counter-cultural. These days you have to knock religion, you have to knock the church. You have to knock normalcy, and if you're not a drug-user, you're a bad guy."
The light hearted, in-your-face normalcy of Four Play is accentuated by lively parodies of popular songs, which are accompanied by live musicians who play drums, bass, piano, bass and guitar on stage with the actors.
The four leading roles are played by professional actors Bill Carmichael, Richard Koons, Chuck Muckle and Barry Pratt. Melissa Bayern plays the "perfect 10" Ottsew Girl.
The play has been performed to sold-out audiences in Glens Falls and Clayton. Rick said he'd love to see the show hit Broadway, but right now he's content when audience members ask him how he managed to capture the essence of friendship so well.
"We wrote this for Main Street, and Main Street is loving it," Rick said. "It's such a thrill. It's embracing normalcy."