Musical looks at divorce with humour
Divorce is truly a laughing matter at Stage West Theatre Restaurant, at least from Sept. 20 to Nov. 25, when Divorce Party the Musical: The Hilarious Journey to Hell… and Back! takes to the stage.
One of the creators of the show is Mark Schwartz, who produced the Off-Broadway hit Menopause the Musical.
“Don’t get mad – get everything!” is the mantra for Divorce Party the Musical,
The play is about Linda, played by local actor Alison J. Palmer, who is reeling from the demise of her marriage. She is content with sitting around eating another bowl of Chubby Hubby ice cream until her three friends throw her a divorce party.
“Divorce parties are a growing global trend – they’re huge,” says Amy Botwinick, who is one of the creators of the musical. A chiropractor, she is the author of Congratulations on Your Divorce: The Road to Finding Your Happily Ever.
Botwinick, once divorced, is now remarried to Boca Raton, Fla., attorney Gary Betensky, who is the president of the American Jewish Committee of Palm Beach County. He was also divorced, and between the two of them, the couple has six kids.
“They [divorces] are an important ritual that help people move powerfully forward with their lives. Over the last few decades, our views on many social issues have changed, and for me, right now divorce is centre stage and proud to show her face,” Botwinick says. “Divorce used to be the evil stepchild who needed to be locked up in their room. Our parents and grandparents would whisper the big bad ‘D’ word.
“Now, entertainment banks on the latest and greatest marital breakup. Major newspapers and magazines write cover stories to chronicle how millions of families each year are adjusting to their divorce transition and beyond.
“And I think most married couples, if they are honest, think about divorce at least once during their relationship. This situation creates the perfect platform to tell the real-life stories of women, warts and all, and create some great comedy,” Botwinick says.
She used her own divorce experience in her work. On the suggestion of her therapist, she started keeping a journal. “As I looked back at my entries, I thought this might be helpful to people because it is really helping me,” she says. “That is what began this whole transition of becoming author, coach and playwright, from a chiropractor, which is really bizarre to me, but that’s life!”
After writing her first book, Congratulations On Your Divorce, Botwinick appeared on several national television programs in the United States. That attention helped her to begin a coaching career, helping women build their divorce team and giving them a strategy for how to get through this very difficult transition with a minimum amount of stress.
“That was serious business,” Botwinick says. “But, what sprouted from that were workshops to help them tap into their power. In my interactions, they shared with me their stories, their successes and stuck points. It was so much fun for me to hear their triumphs, challenges and how they were able to spin some of the trauma drama into funny by looking at it in a different way, and that’s a gift right there.
“What do women going through divorce really need… they need to laugh. I think you can squeeze humour from any difficult situation, and if you can do that, you can survive.”
But Divorce Party the Musical isn’t just for divorced people. Botwinick says that all of us who have had relationships will relate to the show. She wants the audience to come away with the realization that they’re not alone and to get some courage, and to remember how important laughter is when they are going through a difficult situation. She’ll be engaging the audience during “Talk Backs” at some performances at Stage West.
Botwinick says being Jewish is a part of who she is and how she grew up. “It’s the good, the bad and the guilt. It is how I think and how I interpret the world. Being Jewish was a big part of the play for me, and invoking some Jewish humour into it. One of the characters in the play is Jewish – Hyman Finkelstein, named and based on my mother’s first boyfriend.”
The director and choreographer of Divorce Party the Musical is Jay Falzone, and the show’s local cast includes Jewelle Blackman, Allison Sommerville, Jodi Butler and Scott Ahearn.