"The Real (Desperate) Housewives of Columbia County Musical" by Carl Ritchie (book, lyrics, director) and Wayne Moore (music) is a Coward-esque evening from the Taconic Stage Company upstate, which it took by storm in the summer of 2011. Thinly guised as the confessions of four 40-something women on reality TV, this four-character musical spotlights the culture-clash between spoiled, egocentric "weekender" women and their working class "townie" counterparts in a rural upstate community. The show has no reason but to delight, which it does with savvy performances, high-heeled lyrics and the poison of its cocktail-party chit-chat dialogue. To share it with a wider audience, Taconic Stage Company will present the piece in its NYC debut March 7 to 28 at the Laurie Beechman Theatre, 407 West 42nd Street.
The show's songs lampoon such subjects as sexual fantasies toward your caterer, the tendency of "Cidiots" to look down their noses (what's left of them) on the year-rounders and the bragging rights you get for Dutch ancestry if you're from an old local family--a form of retaliation for the weekenders' scorn. We learn from "Don't Fool Around on Your Broker" that it's easier to dump your husband than your real estate agent. In "Get a Little Work," a Maid lampoons her employer's plastic surgery by giving herself a facelift with duct tape. The cast features Meg Dooley, Lisa Franklin, Constance Lopez and Diedre Bollinger.
Carl Ritchie, who is Artistic Director of Taconic Stage Company in Copake, NY, wrote the compact tuner two years ago. Ritchie is a Canadian-born playwright/director who moved from NYC to his weekend home at Copake Lake in 2002. He has a flamboyant wit and a unique eye for local color. A few years ago he was elected to a four year term on the Copake Town Board, where he also served as Police Commissioner (he quips, "My first vote as an American was for myself."). This musical sparkles with the acute wit of an insider who has witnessed the crossfire of savvy urbanites and country people upstate and lived to write about it.
Taconic Stage Company presented the piece at The Lighthouse Marina Dinner Theater on Copake Lake, NY through the summer of 2011. Peter Bergman (berkshirebrightfocus.com) wrote, "In the hands of clever wordsmith Carl Ritchie you have a blast." Gail Burns wrote in Gailsez.org, "Ritchie has written a boffo script and lyrics and the ladies deliver the goods." Marion Hunter wrote in The Columbia Paper, "This Taconic Stage audience came prepared to laugh, and they responded to everything with non-stop, unfettered enthusiasm."
Carl Ritchie (book & lyrics, director) was born in New Brunswick, Canada and began his career as a child actor. After playing Oliver in a 1000-seat venue in his hometown, he insisted--at age 11--on moving 1000 miles away to Toronto to pursue an acting career. He had his own apartment there at 14. Subsequently, after living as a teen in Burma and graduating from high school in the Himalayas, he attended the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. Ritchie has acted, written and directed for theaters worldwide, from Rangoon to Soho. He is author of over 20 plays, which have been performed in over 100 theatres in the US, Canada and as far away as New Zealand. He has written two other musicals with Wayne Moore, "Senior Moments" (Taconic Stage, 2010) and "I Know I Came Here for Something," (Taconic Stage, 2009, Las Vegas and L.A. 2010-13). He contributed material for the widely performed British revue "Fascinating Aida" (2009-2010). His award-winning Quebec productions include the long-running "La Cousine Germaine," which ran through the summer of 2011 in a 700-seat theater east of Montreal. His comedy "Family Values" ran four months at Irish Arts Center in 1996-7, was optioned as a sitcom and is currently being performed in French in Canada as "Sacree Famille!". He polished the screenplay of "The Ladies Room," a film starring John Malkovich and Lorraine Bracco. His whodunit farce, "Any Body Home," written with Elise Dewsberry, was published by Dramatic Publishing in 1999. His last production at West Bank Cafe was a pair of one-acts, "Stoop" and "Ladder" (1993). Concurrent with this project he is workshopping a new musical in Los Angeles, "Love Bytes", as book writer, with music & lyrics by touring artist Ann McNamee and "vocal coach to the stars" Roger Love.