By Dana Zhang
The show begins with a song performed by Mindy Fradkin and her “wasband” (ex-husband) Roland Mousaa. There are many songs sprinkled throughout, usually preceded by Mindy’s call of “Roland! Where ARE you? I believe we have another song to sing.” Easygoing and friendly, Ms. Fradkin, a mad hattress, actress, singer-songwriter, filmmaker, self-appointed Princess Wow, and headliner of the Smile Revolution tells the story of her life and how she manages to keep on rolling at 63.
Ms. Fradkin dons a pink ensemble, and the stage is decorated with her personal effects, from a whiteboard with a drawing of her, captioned as “Princess Wow,” to her self-designed-and-made hats and dresses arranged on a table and a clothing rack. The stage and the artist herself both feature flower accents and colors that sample a wide, vibrant range, from lively red to deep forest green. These are emblematic of Mindy’s whimsical and effervescent personality.
Her show is filled with humorous interjections in which she is honest and frank, unafraid to talk about her body, whether it’s her insecurities about her neck folds, ways to keep wrinkles at bay, or how in her twenties she was obsessed with being skinny like Twiggy. She engages the audience like we’re old friends. Sometimes she calls on the audience to join in, soliciting anecdotes about ageism, passing around a mirror for people to practice smiling, and inviting the audience to sing along to her songs.
She is unabashed about her own experiences and struggles, and how she chooses to live. The Smile Revolution came about as a result of tragedy, when her father, whom she’d never seen smile much, died. She vowed to brighten the world by encouraging others, and herself, to smile more. As she entered her 60s, she became disturbed by how people treated seniors differently. The show chronicles her journey to recognize that she is ageless, that she doesn’t have to retire or become a grandmother, and that beauty really lies in one’s wisdom and confidence. Through her fashion sense and love of life and looking fabulous no matter how old, she seeks to inspire others to shift their thinking about aging, which doesn’t represent the end of one’s creative and productive life.
When she sings, especially about her father, she stares into the distance. Through the bright guitar and her reedy voice, you imagine the lives she’s lived and the pain she’s felt. Ms. Fradkin’s show is about redefining “seniority,” inadequate in describing people like her, who are so full of life. This personal and intimate show will open up your world, and you’ll feel better off knowing Princess Wow and her mission of encouragement and joy.
“Ageless Wonders: A Grown up kids Guide to Growing UP”
Written and Performed by Mindy Fradkin
Sept. 26 at 3:30pm, Oct. 6 at 4pm, Nov. 10 at 2pm
Developer and Director: Jessica Lynn Johnson
Co-Lyricist, Music, Guitar: Roland Mousaa
Stage Manager: Matt Mitchell
Lights and Sound: Ronny Pascale
Photo: courtesy of the production
United Solo 2018
410 West 42nd Street
New York City
DANA ZHANG is a multimedia journalist versed in editorial, photography, and video editing. She writes about pop culture, the performing arts industry, and the human experience. Zhang graduated from New York University in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and interned at Newsweek Media for a year while in university. Zhang is also an avid gamer and dancer.