Lynn Ruth Miller is approaching eighty-years old and she’s on a mission to prove to us all that aging is amazing through a series of real-life stories and a mix of classic pop songs, video montages, and some burlesque dancing – which stops short before the great reveal. All of this sounds wonderful but the problem with this show is that it relies heavily on the audience caring enough about Miller’s story to want to sit through some crackly-voiced tunes, and awkward audience interaction. For this to work the character must be charming and charismatic, but Miller comes across as a slightly crabby and rather smug performer, as though she’s become accustomed to receiving the kind of praising platitudes she dishes out throughout the show.
Miller has always wanted to be a beautiful starlet and this is her belated attempt to realise that dream.
The show begins with the strip as Miller loses a pink feather boa-decorated dressing gown, then a silky kimono, stopping at a white slip nightie that she lifts up to reveal a feathery behind. ‘Thank Heavens for Little Pads’ sees Miller throwing incontinence towels into the audience (some disturbingly sans-wrapper), and demanding us to hurl them back at her. The sight of an elderly woman under siege in this way is momentarily entertaining, but I do feel a tad guilty, and wonder what on earth the small audience is making of this. We are all polite though and clap her endeavours. ‘Drugs Dependency’ takes a Californian nudist resort as its subject matter, while another has Miller at a table with her back to us, looking in a hand-mirror, and singing about looking old and feeling young. In a revamped version of ‘I Will Survive’ we are requested to wear wigs in tribute to Miller’s friend who wore a different wig every day during her treatment for cancer.
Between-song chat sketches in some of Miller’s biography – not the most interesting bits though, including descriptions of her home-town, Toledo, Ohio; previous husbands; making the most out of life; and the rationale for the show. Miller has always wanted to be a beautiful starlet and this is her belated attempt to realise that dream. We are asked to stand, dance, and sing along to the final song, ‘The Way I’m Living Now’, which contains the show’s raison d’etre: ‘The older I am/The better I get’. The participation is unearned though and while I’m pleased Miller has an outlet for her creative energies, I can’t recommend paying for a show based on the age of the performer and not on the material itself.