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Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) will wrap up its 2016-17 Season with the delightful new musical “My 80-Year-Old Boyfriend,” based on the true story of performer Charissa Bertels. The show chronicles the unlikely friendship between twenty-something actress Charissa and eighty-something millionaire Milton, featuring a book and lyrics by Christian Duhamel, and music and lyrics by Edward Bell.

The 80-minute show will be performed without an intermission. Performances are April 26 – May 21. Press performances are at 8:00 pm on Saturday, April 29 (Opening Night), and 2:00 pm on Sunday, April 30. All performances will be held at the Nancy L. Donahue Theatre, located at 50 East Merrimack Street in historic downtown Lowell. Tickets range from $70 – $26 and are on sale now at or by calling 978-654-4678.

More information is at


A Story of Incredible, Unlikely Friendship

“My 80-Year-Old Boyfriend” is not a love story; it is a story of an incredible, unlikely friendship. It is about what happens when we reach out to someone very different from us, with whom we might think we have nothing in common. Charissa and Milton’s story is about discovering joy through close, personal connectiaon, even in places you’d never expect to find it.

“When you meet someone of a much older, or much younger generation,” reflects director Sean Daniels, “you assume that there’s very little common ground—that there’s nothing you can learn from their life. But when you stop and look closer, you may find endless points of connection you never dreamed were there. That’s why this story works so well, especially right now: it shows how beautiful it can be when we extend ourselves with compassion and an open mind. It’s very funny, but also full of warmth and depth. At every reading we’ve done, the people watching are laughing at the start, and in tears of joy by the end.”


More About the Play?The first time Milton approaches struggling actress Charissa, she is peddling juice samples at a New York grocery store. She’s not quite sure what to make of him when he approaches her—much less when he cracks jokes, recites poetry, or invites her back to his high rise apartment. But she reluctantly accepts the invitation, launching them both into an incredible journey of friendship and self-discovery that neither of them could have seen coming.

Cherished music and poetry are shared; old loves, hopes, and regrets are revisited; and with startling clarity, Charissa discovers anew what is most important in this life.

With a brilliant original score that juxtaposes a modern Broadway sound with classic show tune styles, “My 80-Year-Old Boyfriend” reveals the thrill of chasing a dream, the power of living in the now, and all that can happen when we let ourselves say “Yes.”


Cast and Creative Team?“My 80-Year-Old Boyfriend” is produced by special arrangement with Peilin Chou.

In addition to producing theatre, Peilin is Head of Creative at DreamWorks Animation Shanghai, where she oversees the development and production of all the studio’s feature films.

Charissa Bertels recently toured the country in the first national tour of “If/Then,” and made her Broadway debut in the original Broadway cast of the Tony-Nominated “A Christmas Story.” As part of the singing ensemble for New York City Center Encores’ productions of “Gentleman Prefer Blondes” and “Lady Be Good,” her work can be heard on the subsequent cast recordings, featuring Megan Hilty and the legendary Tommy Tune.

Christian Duhamel (Book and Lyrics) has earned awards from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival and Music Theatre Ventures’ Young Creators Award, and was a finalist for the David Mark Cohen Playwriting Award as well as the National Playwriting Award.

UK-based composer and lyricist Edward Bell (Music and Lyrics) has had works produced by ADC Theatre Cambridge and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the Royal College of Music, and The Battersea Barge. He runs The Song Foundry, a startup in global songwriting education. His first, book, “The Art of Songwriting,” is due for publication in July 2017.

Director Sean Daniels is joined by a creative team that includes Kevin David Thomas (Music Director), Neil Patel (Sets), Brian J. Lilienthal (Lighting), Gregory A. Poplyk (Costumes), and Daniel Erdberg (Sound).



Tickets range from $70 – $26 and are available at or by calling 978-654-4678. A senior discount is offered for 10% off adult ticket prices. Student tickets are $15. Group discounts are available for groups of six or more by calling 978-654-7561. $5 Night: Wednesday, April 26 at 7:30 pm. Patrons may purchase tickets for $5, cash only, at the Box Office between 4:30 pm – 7:30 pm. Limit 2 tickets per person.?Lowell Night: Wednesday, May 3 at 7:30 pm. Lowell residents may purchase tickets for $10 at the box office from 4:30 pm-7:30 pm. Proper ID required, limit 2 per person. A Military Discount of $10 off per ticket (up to four tickets per production) applies to any performance for active duty, retired, veteran, and reservist members of the military.


Special Events

On Wine Down Friday (April 28), the audience will be invited to enjoy a complimentary glass of wine in the lobby following the 8:00 pm performance with the cast and crew, as well as with the Western Avenue Studios Artists Association members whose work is currently on exhibit in the lobby. Ladies Night is Thursday, May 11, with complimentary wine, cheese, and sweet treats from Mill City Cheesemongers and Sweet Lydia’s of Lowell. Each Thursday, Ask the Artists Post-Show Discussions will provide an opportunity for the audience to hear directly from the actors and other artists who created the show.



“My 80-Year Old Boyfriend” has received support from production sponsor Lowell Five and media sponsor 980 WCAP. Circle Health is the 2016-17 Season Sponsor. Merrimack Repertory Theatre is funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) has been Merrimack Valley’s professional theatre company since 1979, and is an integral part of Lowell’s identity as the cultural heart of the region. MRT produces vibrant, contemporary plays that explore what it means to be alive today. A seven-show season runs from September through May in the intimate 279-seat Nancy L. Donahue Theatre. The company is known as a leader in producing new plays, especially world and regional premieres. MRT is one of 72 theatres nationwide (one of three in Massachusetts) with membership in LORT (the League of Resident Theatres).???MRT 2016-17 SEASON?“45 Plays for 45 Presidents” by Andy Bayiates, Sean Benjamin, Genevra Gallo-Bayiates, Chloe Johnston, and Karen Weinberg, Directed by Sean Daniels?September 7 – October 2, 2016

“Abigail/1702” by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Directed by Tlaloc Rivas?October 12 – November 6, 2016

“Going to See the Kid” by Steven Drukman, Directed by Alexander Greenfield?November 30 – December 24, 2016

“The Making of a Great Moment” by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, Directed by Sean Daniels?January 4 – 29, 2017

“Women in Jeopardy!” by Wendy MacLeod, Directed by Sean Daniels?February 15 – March 12, 2017

“Chill” by Eleanor Burgess, Directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian?March 22 – April 16, 2017

“My 80-Year-Old Boyfriend” Conceived and performed by Charissa Bertels, Book and lyrics by Christian Duhamel, Music and lyrics by Edward Bell, Directed by Sean Daniels?April 26 – May 21, 2017


Merrimack Repertory Theatre?

Performance Space: The Nancy L. Donahue Theatre??(In Liberty Hall, adjacent to Lowell Memorial Auditorium)?50 E. Merrimack Street?Lowell, MA 01852

?Box Office: 978-654-4678