How a Match.com Username Became Off-Broadway’s Curvy Widow
When Tony-nominated book writer James Goldman passed, his wife combined his craft and her next chapter to create the musical comedy about online dating in post-menopausal widowhood.
The most desired spot to see and be seen at Joe Allen on West 46th Street is the stage-right roundtable that surveys the whole room. It’s called “the Kelly corner,” and a poster of that legendary one-night flop hangs lovingly over it. This is where Bobby Goldman and Nancy Opel, the writer and star of Curvy Widow currently running Off-Broadway at the Westside Theatre’s Upstairs Theatre, sit to talk about their latest project.
“Listen,” Opel says. “She’s dirty; I’m clean. That’s how you tell, and I scrub it up really good.”
It is a perfect blendship. Goldman’s wild and withering wit fuels Opel’s uproariously loopy performance. Curvy Widow was Goldman’s username on Match.com, and the musical (with book by Goldman and songs by Drew Brody) that goes with it is about the life that late she led—a comedy on the joys and perils of post-menopausal widowhood in the digital age.
For tickets to Curvy Widow, click here.
Curvy Widow has been on the express track, taking just eight months from its launch in Asheville, North Carolina, to a New York premiere. “We had no idea what the options of the show would be when we opened,” Goldman confesses. “Then the reviews started coming in, and I went, ‘Really?’ They got it! They told us what the show was, and we ended up a hit. Then, Nancy called George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick and said, ‘I have a show I’m doing I think you should take a look at it.’ Twenty-four hours later, they wrote back to Nancy and said, ‘We have room—but now! Why don’t you come in and be the last show of the season?’ Westside [Theatre] took us two weeks after that.”
It’s Goldman’s first solo writing credit, though her late husband, James Goldman, earned a Tony nomination for his book to Stephen Sondheim’s Follies and an Oscar for adapting his own play The Lion in Winter. “When you do something autobiographical, you want it to feel authentic,” Goldman says. “You don’t stray far. There’s no hiding in this one. The character’s name is Bobby. Nancy’s wearing my clothes. The set is a copy of my apartment. The props are from my apartment. I had to buy a peppermill because mine is onstage.
“If you listed all the things that are in the show, you might think it was a dirty little show, but Miss Corn-Fed here gets up and goes to work on it, and we’ve never gotten one complaint about dirtiness in the reviews or the talkbacks. All they wanted to talk about was the emotional quality of the show and how it gives hope.”
This cues Opel to get into the serious underpinnings of the comedy. “If you’ve got a life partner, every day you get up, you’re other-oriented,” she says. “Then, suddenly, that’s taken away, and you find yourself alone. A lot of times, you think, ‘Oh, I need to replace that person. I must find someone else.’ Nobody writes about us. Nobody writes about this sexual reawakening of a woman in her 50s—and musicalizes it. It’s not just about sex. It’s about everything. It’s about ‘What do I do with myself?’”