By Stuart Cohn
If you’re looking for an antidote to the old adage, “It only hurts when I laugh,” we may have just the ticket for you.
The Boomer Boys Musical is making its way to the Palm Springs Cultural Center for five performances, from Feb. 11-13. Touted as a “side-splitting, tuneful and toe-tapping ‘men-of-a-certain-age’ new musical,” The Boomer Boys Musical has elicited guffaws and stellar reviews across the country.
The Boomer Boys are a fun-loving “fat pack” of middle-aged men who realize the best way to deal with getting older is to laugh about it. The brainchild of book writers/lyricists Billy Van Zandt and his late writing partner, Jane Milmore, the show includes a variety of songs about an assortment of male maladies, including “His Prostate Is the Size of a Buick,” “My God, I Am My Father,” “Noises in the Night,” “My Get Up and Go Has Gone,” “Hair Makes the Man,” “Bucket List” and “Colonoscopy!”
Van Zandt and Milmore had a prolific partnership that spanned 46 years and yielded 25 plays, including You’ve Got Hate Mail; Off-Broadway tribute to slapstick comedy Silent Laughter; and Sex and the IRS, among numerous others.
In a recent interview, Van Zandt explained that the idea for The Boomer Boys Musical came about when their composer, Wayland Pickard, came to Milmore and said he wanted to do a show about the changes men go through at a certain age.
“Jane immediately said yes,” Van Zandt said, adding that Milmore then elaborated: “I’d rather write about it than listen to you complain about it.”
The show stars Van Zandt and three of his old friends, Tom Frascatore, Jeff Babey and Glen Jones. “I’ve known Tom since kindergarten,” said Van Zandt, “and the others for more than 30 years. We break each other up every night.”
The Palm Springs engagement will be the show’s first since the beginning of the pandemic.
“We toured for a year and a half, during which Jane passed away,” said Van Zandt. “Then the world shut down. We’ve been champing at the bit to get out there and do it again. During the down time, we wrote some new songs and jokes, and did two little workshops in July. We are so ready to get back in front of audiences.”
Van Zandt believes the show has widespread appeal.
“We’re all going through the same things,” he said. “It’s really universal humor. The colonoscopy song was written during our hiatus, because one of the cast members had the procedure done—and we decided that a rap song about the experience was in order. Another song, ‘I Just Took a Pill Called Viagra,’ is a tribute to Broadway blockbuster songs. And we attracted a big gay audience when we appeared at the Triad in New York City. They loved the campy stuff, especially ‘I’m Getting Fatter,’ which is a take off on ‘Cell Block Tango’ from the musical Chicago.”
The show is not just aimed at men, Van Zandt said.
“Women love it, because they get to laugh at their husbands or partners,” he said. “They live with it. They watch what their husbands or partners go through or went through and tell us they had no idea that men thought like this. The funny thing is that, often, women drag their significant others to the show, and within about 10 minutes, you see (their husbands) loosen up and go with it.”
Van Zandt has quite a history in live theater, television and film. He and Milmore produced or wrote more than 300 hours of television comedy, including Newhart, Martin, The Hughleys, Suddenly Susan, Daddy Dearest, Anything but Love, The Wayans Bros. and I Love Lucy: The Very First Show, which earned them an Emmy nomination.
As an actor, Van Zandt made his film debut in Jaws 2 and has been onscreen with Lucille Ball, George C. Scott, Timothy Hutton, Sean Penn, Tom Cruise, Giancarlo Esposito, Karl Malden and the entire crew of the starship Enterprise. He also has written a book, Get in the Car, Jane! (Adventures in the TV Wasteland).
Van Zandt promised audiences a fun night in the theater, and said he can’t wait to get back on stage with his old—emphasis on old—pals.
“We’re dying to hear our colonoscopy rap song for the first time in front of audiences,” he said.
More info: The Boomer Boys Musical will be performed at 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 11; 2 and 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 12; and 2 and 7 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 13, at Palm Springs Cultural Center, 2300 E. Baristo Road, Tickets range from $33 to $58. For tickets or more information, visit www.theboomerboysmusical.com.
Stuart Cohn writes about entertainment for The Coachella Valley Independent. Like The Post, The Independent depends on the support of the community to continue providing its journalism free of charge.