Review: World Premiere of ‘My 80-Year-Old Boyfriend’ at Merrimack Repertory Theatre

Angelica Potter

  • Massachusetts Critic

Closing out the season at Merrimack Repertory Theatre is the world premiere production of ‘My 80-Year-Old Boyfriend’ conceived and performed by Charissa Bertels, with book and lyrics by Christian Duhamel, and music and lyrics by Edward Bell. It’s the story of an actress, Charissa, and her much older companion, Milton, from whom she learns so much.  Its message is one of acceptance, personal growth, and the power of honest human connections and relationships. The detailed and creative lighting design by Brian J. Lilienthal paired nicely with the scenic design by Neil Patel. Additionally, it was wonderfully connected to the music and script, accenting and highlighting many moments throughout. Directed by Sean Daniels and with music directed by Kevin David Thomas, this one-woman-show features a variety of musical numbers, including up-tempos and ballads, each showcasing Bertels’ impeccable vocal abilities.

It didn’t take long for Bertels’ presence and fantastic, comedic story telling ability to enthrall the audience. Over the next 90 minutes the audience was in the palm of her hand, laughing at the witty one-liners, getting choked up during the more emotional scenes and songs, and thoroughly enjoying every minute of it. Her portrayal of Milton, his characteristics and voice, and her facial expressions and reactions as Charissa to his blunt and often times amusing comments were perfectly timed. With every song she displayed believable sincerity. Her powerful and incredible vocal range was highlighted in each song making it difficult to choose a favorite number. “What a View”, early in the show, was performed with genuine excitement and thrill. Just as “My 80-Year-Old Boyfriend” and “Together With You” were lighthearted and fun, “The Love Left Behind” and “Our Time” were tenderly moving and tear-jerking.

Within seconds of singing her final note in “What Counts” the audience leapt to their feet with robust applause and cheers giving Bertels a long-lasting standing ovation that was entirely well deserved. This touching and humorous musical is bound to not only tug at your heartstrings, but make you laugh and send you out of the theatre smiling. This new musical is a must see this May and Charissa Bertels’ performance is not to be missed! ©  

Running around 90 minutes with no intermission, “My 80-Year-Old Boyfriend” plays at Merrimack Repertory Theatre, located at 50 East Merrimack Street Lowell, MA, with performances Wednesday through Sunday until May 21st, 2017.  Tickets range from $70-$26 with discounts available for groups, students, seniors, Lowell residents, and military service members. To purchase tickets or find more information visit or call 978-654-4678. Photo: Charissa Bertels in "My 80-Year-Old Boyfriend". Photo by Meghan Moore. 

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