Bobby is a 50-something owner of a construction company, married for decades to a uber-successful writer. They have no children. When her husband suddenly dies, and Bobby does her share of grieving, she figures her love life is caput. Her therapist thinks otherwise, and advises her to go on match.com to meet a new man. She creates Curvy Widow as her username, and begins her wild and woolly journey into the world of online dating.
If you’ve ever attempted to meet a man through the internet, you know what that’s like. Nerds. Cheapskates. Sex-starved creeps. Married men! Bobby found out, too.
Although Curvy Widow is the name of a musical comedy that opened last week, slightly off Broadway, it’s “98.5 percent autobiographical,” says the show’s playwright, the real Bobby Goldman. The 68-year-old widow of James Goldman, who wrote the hit 1971 musical Follies with Stephen Sondheim, Bobby had been with him for 30 years when he died in 1998. Her subsequent dating misadventures inspired her to write the script for the show. Drew Brody wrote the music and lyrics.
The real Bobby says she’s “too busy” to think about settling down again (“I work seven days a week, and I love it”), but she’s “dating six men,” and even has “taken men away from beautiful women in their 30s because I’m interesting,” she adds, confidently.
Nancy Opel, the Tony Award nominee who plays Bobby, is on stage during most of the 85-minute production, singing and dancing her way through her rendezvous with potential suitors, therapy sessions, and chat fests with her trio of best friends. Her dead husband also returns to admonish her about her dalliances. Interestingly, Bobby doesn’t “ride off into the sunset” with the nice, handsome and and terrific guy she eventually meets, which pleases the star of the production. “Part of what I loved about the show is they did not try to tie it up with a pretty bow,” Nancy says.
Nancy wears playwright Bobby’s “real” clothes in the show. The set is a copy of Bobby’s real apartment. Even the props come from her home. “When you do something autobiographical, you want it to feel authentic. You don’t stray far. There’s no hiding in this one,” Bobby explains.
Bobby dated about 65 men after spending her entire adult life with only one man. Based on this wealth of experience, she offers five dating tips for FOF women:
1. Make a list. “Sit down with a pad and take stock of what you’d like [in a man] and what you have to offer him, and be realistic. If you’re a sporty girl, you won’t find your man in a library.”
2. Ask male friends to find you dates. “They don’t want to get beaten up by someone they fix you up with, so they’ll work harder to find someone who likes you.”
3. Get a good gynecologist. Goldman went through 14 before getting the help she needed for pain-free sexual relations. One called her “vulgar” for wanting a sex life.
4. Be direct. “Don’t make him guess. That drives men crazy! If we suggests going to a restaurant you don’t like, speak up. And if he asks for a reason, give him one. ‘I think it sucks!’”
5. Realize that sex isn’t everything. “Relationships are about intimacy and making the other person feel wanted. I care for you. I worry about you. I want to be with you. Can’t have sex? We’ll work that out.
Curvy Widow is playing at the Westside Theatre at 407 West 43rd Street in New York.