The middle-aged jungle cats who prowl through Cougar the Musical aren’t the predators you’d expect; they’re neither as crafty as Mrs. Robinson nor as voracious as Samantha Jones. Rather, they’re well-meaning older ladies who indulge in young hunks the way other women might go for, say, a day at the spa.
Donna Moore’s show is just as hokey as its title promises (the opening number sees our three MILFs making claw-hands and hissing at the audience). But once we get that business out of the way, Cougar is surprisingly sweet, with a clever enough script and catchy enough tunes. These women of a certain age—recent divorcée Lily (Porter), bar owner Mary-Marie (Winn) and academic Clarity (Braxton)—spend much of the show singing about how awesome they are (“I Am My Own Queen”) and dating their way through a slew of younger men (Danny Bernardy, in a broad variety of types).
Odds are if you come to a show called Cougar the Musical, you’re game for 90 minutes of songs about self-affirmation and vibrators. Like the “cougartini” that Mary-Marie serves at her bar, Moore’s musical is a low-fat, high-sugar indulgence, slim and easy to swallow. Moore and her cowriters stumble in a few overly sentimental numbers (“Mother’s Love,” a sappy duet that follows a near-miss sexual encounter between Mary-Marie and her own son, is particularly cringe-inducing), and though Moore gets what it is to be an older woman, she is clueless when it comes to the behavior of younger men. But thanks to a talented cast and the show’s peppy, feather-light touch, Cougar should hit its target audience right in the ovaries.—Jenna Scherer