Washington's Arena Stage begins the fall season with ''Closer Than Ever,'' an original, entertaining musical revue that was first done off-Broadway.
David Shire did the music and Richard Maltby Jr., the lyrics for all these very bright, very clever songs. There are 23 in all, and they range in topic. What is important to know, however, is that they cover important aspects of maturity as we know it today.
Once in a while, the lyrics touch on youth, but most often they cover other topics, the despair of loving the wrong person, doors that continually open to new lifetime experiences, the man who wants to drop his girlfriend and tells her he wants to be her friend, and the man who has bought the marriage deal and wonders if he has done the right thing.
Others are about sexual satisfaction, music as the contemporary world knows it, fatherhood, exercise and friendship among three people whose relationship survives the years.
There is also a song about working parents who don't know who will take care of the baby, and there is another in which a young lady laments the fact that while her date is ''There,'' he really isn't present.
One man sings about the father he has always appreciated, four of the principals sing about the march of time (''I didn't know I had a prostate''), and the two ladies in the cast do ''It's Never That Easy'' in which they sing about never wanting to go back to what they were.
In short, ''Closer Than Ever'' is a collection of sensible, mature, musical observations on life as most of us live it, as most of us know it. You'll be nodding with recognition as you listen to the lyrics. It's very easy to relate. Of course, you may have to work a bit. Let your mind wander for a few seconds, and you lose the point of the song.
Meg Bussert, Louis Padilla, Sally Mayes and Craig Wells are the four people who handle most of the songs. Patrick Scott Brady is the man at the piano. He does a few songs, too. All five of these people are exceptionally strong. One is as talented as the other.
One of the nicer things about ''Closer Than Ever'' is that it is a very positive show. It has its performers explore the avenues they might have taken, but almost invariably they return to the sane and worthy path.
''Closer Than Ever,'' which runs two hours, will continue at the Arena Stage-Kreeger Theater through Sept. 29. It looks like a lock date so you'd better get over there while you can. If bright, smart songs are your preference, if a bright, smartly staged revue makes you happy, this is the show for you.
"Closer Than Ever" - Four people sing songs about the life experience as we know it today.
CAST: Meg Bussert, Louis Padilla, Sally Mayes, Craig Wells, Patrick Scott Brady. DIRECTOR: Richard Maltby Jr. RUNNING TIME: Two hours with one intermission. 3 stars