Based on the 1993 film starring Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau and Ann-Margaret, a U.S. premiere run of “Grumpy Old Men: The Musical” has opened at the Ogunquit Playhouse.

The show had its world premiere in Canada nearly seven years ago. On the 25th anniversary of the popular movie’s release, it would seem about time to bring those cranky Minnesotans back to the States. If you liked the movie, you’ll probably like this show. It’s no big deal, but it’s kind of fun nonetheless.

The film is centered in comical situations surrounding two older male characters, once friends, who resist change by nursing silly grudges until an attractive younger woman gets their peevish motors revved-up once again. Along the way, some of the personal and financial issues surrounding aging are aired in ways that add some depth beyond the (sometimes rather crude) humor.

This Dan Remmes-penned show sets the same parameters as the film, with songs by Neil Berg and Nick Meglin and dance by Michele Lynch added to the mix, all under the direction of Matt Lenz. Despite the grumpiness motif, the characters are generally likeable. Each has a number or two to flesh out the revitalization that the production trumpets.

The songs generally have a comic and/or reflective theme, as the show seeks a balance of entertainment and gentle message. The insertion of mini dance numbers during scenery changes serves to add some much-welcome moments of grace to the show’s more straightforward sentimentality.

Ed Dixon and Mark Jacoby play the principal grouches, who name-call and prank each other with time-tested glee. They occasionally break into such co-lead songs as “I Like the Way Things Are” and “Opportunity Knocks.” Dixon also adds a gruff relish to “In Like Flynn,” while Jacoby gets soulful in duet with Leslie Stevens, as the attractive, if slightly flaky, neighbor on “The Mirror Lies.”


Stevens vamps “Heat Wave” in front of a winter clothes-clad ensemble full of recognizable small-town characters who excel in the rapid-fire comedy moments, which are a big part of what’s best about the show.

The old warriors’ adult children, played by Laura Woyasz and Kevin Massey, try to keep their parents in check while also weighing personal aspirations versus a budding romance. “Parents and Paradise” has them duetting sweetly.

Ogunquit regular Sally Struthers plays a new arrival with a quirky sense of humor. “Your Own Home,” her featured number, casts a warm glow over the proceedings. Also on board is TV and Broadway veteran Hal Linden, who fills his role as a feisty, even older man with risqué humor who opines in song that “Life Is All About Living.”

Doug Eskew steals scenes as a store owner. His big voice on “Angel” drew cheers at the performance under review. Brenda Braxton, as a determined I.R.S. agent, took over the stage on “Snyder Comes Along.”

The musical accompaniment, under the direction of Phil Reno, generally held to a light swing-to-pop range. The costume design by Dustin Cross and scenic design by Michael Carnahan emphasizes the comforts of down vests worn over flannel, cozy kitchens and ice-fishing shanties.

The movie had a sequel, but this musical version might be just enough to liven up late summer.

Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.

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