At first glance, the synopsis of Boca Bound, a new musical by Bonnie Logan and Richard Peskin, intrigued me greatly. After all, it’s not so often a piece of theatre comes along that takes place in South Florida, in a city half an hour from mine and to which I’ve lately been commuting to on a daily basis. Plus, the show’s protagonist Nadine had, like me, been convinced somewhat reluctantly to abandon her former life as a New Yorker and head south.
However, I may have initially underestimated the differences in our concerns that would spring from the fact that this “Nadine” was 40 years my senior. After the workaholic attorney Nadine hits 65 and thus her law firm’s mandatory retirement age, she feels lost and purposeless. So Nadine’s lifelong best friend, Gert, invites her to stay with her at her country club community in idyllic Boca Raton.
I wasn’t entirely surprised to find that Boca Bound’s creative team was new to professional theatre writing. The music was pleasant and occasionally amusing, but rarely particularly profound or memorable; the dialogue was often cliched and clunky, the exposition was usually delivered too obviously, and the narrative seemed to lack focus until the end of Act 1.
Until then, the show was largely a collection of corny jokes about the “difficulty” Nadine has adapting to laid-back and superficial country club life. A romantic sub-plot between Nadine and good-natured widower Allan does little to enliven the proceedings; the simplicity and ease with which the two characters connected unfortunately made the pair rather monotonous to watch.
I did eventually get more invested in the show when its most interesting conflict arose. Nadine’s children rarely speak to her and yet share an intimate bond with their more supportive “auntie” Gert, who stepped into a mothering role while Nadine threw herself into overtime at the office to deal with grief over her husband’s premature death. I probably have more in common with the misunderstood artistic children than their hypercritical mother, but I still found the family’s eventual reconciliation genuinely moving.
I found little fault with any of the show’s major players despite their occasionally underwhelming material, and there was a thread of real feeling in this play somewhere under all of its schmaltz. I’m also glad to see the perspectives and experiences of the oft-ignored demographic of older adults explored onstage; I just wish it had all been done a little more skillfully.