Review: Musical 'Are We There Yet?' offers rapid-fire look at life, love, marriage - and a rapping baby

What: Musical that examines marriage, family, career and retirement

When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 7 p.m. Sunday and 1:15 p.m. Wednesday, Saturday & selected matinees through March 7.

Where: 1380 Colonial Boulevard, Fort Myers (in Royal Palm Square); show playing in the small Off Broadway Palm theater

Cost: Sunday through Friday evenings $45. Matinees $40. Show only $25. 12 and younger $19

Information: 239-278-4422 or broadwaypalm.com

Something Else: Ticket prices include meal & show; show-only tickets available

On the Web: More theater news in the Stage Door blog at naplesnews.com/stage

— Off Broadway Palm's "Are We There Yet?" seems an interesting concept - a show that examines marriage, family, career and retirement. Even the title is a clever play on a restless kid's bored whine; what it really means is that life is about the journey. Too bad the show ends up being the equivalent of theatrical junk food - pretty to look at, nice to listen to, nothing to sustain you.

I shouldn't be so down on "Are We There Yet?" The show is perfectly lovely - for what it is - an innocuous, easy on the eyes, easy on the brain, simplistic, inoffensive and moderately amusing two hours of entertainment. Written by James Hindman, Ray Roderick and Cheryl Stern, with music from John Glaudini, the show whips through two dozen vignettes about all stages of life. The show premiered in Wichita, Kansas in 2005.

The actors do their best to raise the level of the material - even if it defies raising at times. Kevin T. Murphy (who resembles a young John Belushi) sells a preposterous number titled "Baby Rap" clad only in diapers and bib while uttering the joke "You know I'm not the only one wearing diapers in this room." Thankfully, that's the bottom.

Anna Freres dons a bathrobe and fuzzy slippers to belt out an ode to motherhood "Cause I'm a Mommy." Boy, can she sing, but seldom do torch songs come delivered while holding a toilet plunger.

Scott Moreau and Erin Dickerson share a tender scene that compares dating to a roller coaster, while Murphy delivers a moving monologue about facing Alzheimer's. Freres gets an equally eloquent piece about gay adoption. These clever, intelligent pieces go almost unnoticed in the frenetic din.

The characters aren't even named in the program, just Woman 1, Man 1, etc; it is impossible to form a relationship with them. The very vagueness that makes the show so broadly familiar works against it actually having anything truly meaningful to say.

At the end of the day, "Are We There Yet?" is well-crafted, easy, breezy entertainment and little more. There's a dizzying array of costume changes, plenty of vocal stylings and (rapping baby aside) a healthy smattering of comedy. Catch dinner and a show and wonder "Are We There Yet?"

My parents' idea of a vacation was a weekend at the local Holiday Inn; it had a pool and free continental breakfast. Email me at csilk@naplesnews.com and ready my STAGE DOOR blog at naplesnews.com/stage.

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