Siena alumnus and playwright Rick Wilson found himself inspired by “Menopause.”
“Five years ago, my wife dragged me to see ‘Menopause the Musical,’ and I was one of five guys there, and we were mocked mercilessly. When I left the theater, I thought there must be a male response,” said Rick Wilson, whose own play “Four Play: The Musical” will wrap up its inaugural tour for five nights at Foy Hall at Siena. “We don’t go through menopause, but there are things and stages in a man’s life that he goes through.”
• What: “Four Play: The Musical”
• When: May 23-24, 30-31 and June 7 at 7:30 p.m.
• Where: Siena College’s Foy Hall
• How much: $30
• Info: 1 (800) 838-3006, ext. 1, or www.brownpapertickets.com/event/542510
Over the course of two and half years, after their four kids had moved out of the house and while working own mortgage company, Wilson would chip away at his script after work or in the middle of the night. The end result deals with men’s midlife musings, as well as shedding some light on the importance of colon cancer awareness.
Wilson, who lives in Queensbury, had no previous experience in writing a script, but he said it was something he had always wanted to do, and his wife said he has knack for it.
“I’ve been telling people for years he writes a heck of a Christmas letter. People who aren’t even in our family like to read it,” said Nancy Wilson
Nancy has played an integral role in bringing the play from paper to the stage. She said “Four Play” is something both genders will enjoy.
“Unlike ‘Menopause,’ this is for men and women. Women like to poke their men and laugh and say, ‘Those are things you do.’ We even have women make a girl’s night out of it,” said Nancy.
The story starts out in 1970 and follows the lives of four college friends over the years.
“It’s essentially about four guys that meet in college in 1970 and decide to meet at the college every year to play golf. When they get together, they act like typical guys and do the things guys do when they get together,” said Rick.
Nancy sums it up in a simpler way.
“It’s a story of friendship and also about men’s health,” she said.
While the play is getting good reviews about how funny it is and how relatable it is, there is also a serious message about the importance of monitoring your health.
“One of the things I wanted to do was have a message that men should be responsible and take care of themselves. I think most guys know someone who died from colon cancer because they were never screened. My mother died from it and so did a friend of mine. Guys get together and talk about the big 50-year exam, this is just a way of presenting it in a light way,” said Rick.
During the intermission, refreshments are provided and they ask that people make donations if they can to a fund that helps people pay for colonoscopies if they can’t afford it. So far, people have donated over $1,100. It has also helped encourage some people to see their doctors.
“I’ve had people contact me after the show and tell me, ‘I scheduled my exam.’ If I could reach a few more people like that, I’d be happy,” said Rick.
To get the show off the ground, he first read the play to his friends.
“I sat down and wrote it, and the first presentation of this was to the guys I went to Siena with. They loved it and said, ‘You have got to take it further.’ We read three readings in Glens Falls and all three readings sold out,’” said Rick.
The next move was to meet with Actors’ Equity, which is an actors guild that represents 49,000 actors and stage managers across the country. It is also where the Wilsons found high-caliber performers with Broadway experience. Last August, a stage manager told the Wilsons that their show had real potential, and things started rolling from there.
Nancy said that being new to this has been a real learning experience because there are a lot of different pieces involved in making the production work. They have to find people to do everything from setting up the stage, to make-up and payroll insurance.
The audience reaction is enough to show Nancy that this musical is something people really enjoy.
“People come up to me and say things like, ’How did you know my friends?’ and ‘The play is so real you can touch it.’” said Nancy.
The Wilsons said this project has really taken in off in ways that they haven’t expected, but they hope it will go even further.
“The overall goal is we want this to be seen by a bigger production company. This is something that has appeal to our generation, people 40 to 75,” said Rick.
Tickets to the show are $30 and showtimes are at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, May 23, 24, 30 and 31. The final performance on June 7 is during the college’s 40th reunion, which is where the lightly autobiographical play also concludes.
For ticket information call the box office at (800) 838-3006, ext. 1, or order online at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/542510.