Directors' Choice Award Winner
The Million Dollar Bet
(“Life Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over!”)
by Howard Eisenberg
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“Life Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over” is the sub-title, key song, and inspirational theme for anyone approaching 50 in the musical romp, “The Million Dollar Bet.” The show – as much about love as it is about a bet -- warns its audience, “Never repress your dreams. That’s how people get migraine headaches.”
Hero and poster boy for that theme is Jerry Reiss, 60-ish but still boyish-looking retired publicist for Eddie Hunter, a pop music ex-superstar of the ‘50s and ‘60s. At Eddie’s fifth wedding, when Jerry tells Eddie about a dream in which he out-sang his old boss on the Tonight Show, old antagonisms surface.
Jerry, an untutored closet baritone and occasional wedding singer who helped Eddie win the fame that he’s always secretly believed he could have had himself, is goaded into a bet that Eddie is sure he can’t lose and Jerry is certain he can’t win – a million dollar bet at 50 to 1 odds that he can become a singing star in one year. All this while Leila worries that if Jerry somehow achieves his impossible dream, chorus girls and success could wreck their 30-year marriage.
With the help of supportive wife Leila, hard-as-acrylic-nails agent Mimi (singing “Twenty Percent of Everything”), and the bobbysoxers (now Grannysoxers) who helped Jerry put Eddie on top, the often discouraged but always resilient ex-publicist fulfills the bet’s requirements. The plot turns, twists, and thickens joyfully as Jerry proves that, indeed, life ain’t over ‘til it’s over. He scores a booking in Vegas, a record that hits the charts, and (living the dream that led to the bet) a shot on the Tonight Show.
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