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Boston Globe: Glimpsing star power in the girlfriend of an 80-year-old man

"Charissa Bertels possesses the kind of stage presence that makes each member of the audience feel she is speaking directly to them. That’s important, since “My 80-Year-Old Boyfriend” is a one-woman show, now having its world premiere at Merrimack Repertory Theatre through May 21.


Bertels, whose credits include the Broadway production of the musical “A Christmas Story,” a national tour of “If/Then,” and the ensembles of several New York City Center Encores productions, is an impressive triple threat talent. She has a lovely vocal range she describes as “soprano-belter,” a broad dance vocabulary (there’s even a breakout tap routine), and excellent comedic timing."

"One of the show’s highlights is Bertels’s duet with herself in “Together With You,”..."


"In the show’s penultimate number, Bertels accompanies herself on the piano for a gorgeous performance of “Wandrers Nachtlied,” the Goethe poem set to music by Franz Schubert. Goethe’s poetry is something the two friends have in common, and the song is the one unhurried moment in the show, one that is infused with emotional depth."

"...keep your eye out for the next show Bertels appears in. She’s got talent."


The Nashua Telegraph: Theater Review - Bertels shines in ‘My 80-Year-Old Boyfriend’ at MRT

"Charissa Bertels is nothing short of phenomenal. Her one-woman show, “My 80-Year-Old Boyfriend,” is the spectacular season ender for Merrimack Repertory Theatre. And it’s not hyperbole to call it a tour de force of multidisciplinary theatrical talent and awe-inspiring work by this amazing actor.

Through original songs that vary from rousing to heart-wrenching, Bertels tells her tale with humor and every emotion she can wring out of herself – and us...I watched the audience while I watched the show, and they already loved her by the time Bertels had powered through the rousing intro song, “By The Numbers.” She is a “soprano belter,” to be sure. But it’s not just showy vocal theatrics; there is nuance and feeling behind every note. The evocative lyrics will get you, too. Yes, you’ll likely cry during “What a View” and “Fifth Grade Feeling,” as I did (and most folks around me). But it’s so worth it.

What puts this show over the top and makes it not just a terrific exhibition of Broadway-style talent – singing, dancing, acting, a tap number, piano playing and even singing in German – is Bertels’ incredible portrayal of Milton. She bounces back and forth between talking to us as herself, and sprinkling in conversations as Milton, in a hilarious, astounding way. There is even a head-shakingly amazing duet she does – with herself. I couldn’t even get annoyed when after the thunderous applause died down, an audience member exclaimed in the silence, “She is excellent!” Because ... wow, she really is.

Bertels fires on all cylinders; the fact that this is her true story and an original book is yet another layer of the talent encompassed in it. This is a master class in how to put on a show worth seeing. But there is surely no one who wouldn’t enjoy this absolutely lovely story of a beautiful friendship, presented with humor, love and Broadway-level entertainment."


BWW Review: MY 80-YEAR-OLD BOYFRIEND World Premiere at Merrimack Rep

"My 80-Year-Old Boyfriend rises or falls on the ability of the performer to sell not only her own character, but to inhabit and convey the character of Milton, and Bertels has the chops and the personality to pull it off. With a gravelly voice and the slightest hunching over, she becomes this octogenarian with joie de vivre and a twinkle in his eye. When "they" sing and dance together ("Together With You"), it is practically worth the price of admission. As herself and as Milton, Bertels is a delightful, engaging performer. She has a great soprano belt and the piano accompaniment is terrific. In a nutshell, it is a very enjoyable ninety minutes of theater that doesn't make you think as much as it makes you feel, and it feels good."


OnStage: Review - World Premiere of ‘My 80-Year-Old Boyfriend’ at Merrimack Repertory Theatre

"This one-woman-show features a variety of musical numbers, including up-tempos and ballads, each showcasing Bertels’ impeccable vocal abilities.

It didn’t take long for Bertels’ presence and fantastic, comedic story telling ability to enthrall the audience. Over the next 90 minutes the audience was in the palm of her hand, laughing at the witty one-liners, getting choked up during the more emotional scenes and songs, and thoroughly enjoying every minute of it. Her portrayal of Milton, his characteristics and voice, and her facial expressions and reactions as Charissa to his blunt and often times amusing comments were perfectly timed. With every song she displayed believable sincerity. Her powerful and incredible vocal range was highlighted in each song making it difficult to choose a favorite number. “What a View”, early in the show, was performed with genuine excitement and thrill. Just as “My 80-Year-Old Boyfriend” and “Together With You” were lighthearted and fun, “The Love Left Behind” and “Our Time” were tenderly moving and tear-jerking.

Within seconds of singing her final note in “What Counts” the audience leapt to their feet with robust applause and cheers giving Bertels a long-lasting standing ovation that was entirely well deserved. This touching and humorous musical is bound to not only tug at your heartstrings, but make you laugh and send you out of the theatre smiling. This new musical is a must see this May and Charissa Bertels’ performance is not to be missed!" 


ARTS FUSE: Theater Review - “My 80-Year-Old Boyfriend” — Simple and Profound

"We may not all be New York actors striving to find out place in the world of theatre, but Bertels’s story proves to be universally compelling.

Bertels flips between Milton and her own persona in a way that feels effortless, breezily playing both sides of a conversation and singing, in what might be one of the play’s funniest scenes, both halves of a duet. Even when not embodying an 80-year-old man, Bertels is a terrific lead; her energetic physicality and sharp comic timing ensures that this 90-minute show doesn’t drag for an instant. In one especially hilarious scene, when she believes Milton is about to propose to her, Bertels makes wide-eyed dread funnier than it has any right to be.

Fortunately, My 80-Year-Old Boyfriend provides everything...lovable characters, genuine laughs, and plenty of heart, to name just a few of its noteworthy qualities. And, while the show is remarkably entertaining in its lighter moments, it also manages to explore, with considerable power, earnest questions about life, family, friendship, and happiness. The conclusion Bertels comes to on these matters during the show’s closing number is both simple and profound, a message well worth heeding for those age 80 or otherwise...the time we have with our friends and family is painfully short, and should be cherished accordingly. Fortunately, Bertels and the creative team at MRT appear to have taken this message to heart. My 80-Year-Old Boyfriend is a joyous delight, performed with skill and passion: an irresistible reminder that time flies."


EVERETT INDEPENDENT: Bertels beams in her one-woman show, ‘My 80-year-old Boyfriend’

"She's vibrant, versatile."

"Bertels can belt out big tunes, her lovely voice booming to the rafters."

"She makes us smile, laugh and exult with her, sharing the power of love and caring in our lives."


LOWELL SUN: MRT's latest offering amusing, perceptive

"Bertels is a gifted singer...The number she performs when she first sees Milton's apartment, "What A View," is the standout track. Milton is showing Charissa a side of New York City she has never seen. It's a thrilling moment, for her and the audience.”

If/Then National Tour

Minneapolis Star Tribune: "And Charissa Bertels, who subbed for “American Idol” star Tamyra Gray on opening night, brought power to the role of lesbian friend Kate."

Talkin' Broadway: "On opening night Charissa Bertels performed the role of Kate, filling in for "American Idol" alum Tamyra Gray, and did a terrific, crowd-pleasing job, showing all the requisite energy, wit, and charisma the part calls for."

Knight Errant: "On opening night, Burns was supported by the understudy for the role of Kate (Charissa Bertels), one of Elizabeth’s best friends who encourages her to pursue not only her dreams, but love. Although playing a role meant for an African American actress, Bertels depicted the lesbian kindergarten teacher as an energetic and wacky friend we all hope to have going into adulthood."

"The women in “If/Then,” especially Burns and Bertels, were powerhouse singers..."

City Pages: "Tamyra Gray (who's on the tour as Elizabeth's neighbor Kate, but was replaced on Tuesday night by the high-energy Charissa Bertels) was a finalist on the first season of American Idol."

Twin Cities Pioneer Press: "Charissa Bertels, fetchingly filling in for Tamyra Gray"


The Spokesman Review: 9 to 5

"Bertels earned the biggest applause of the night with “Get Out and Stay Out.” Her singing was powerful as Judy shed her mousy persona to become a full-fledged strong woman."

Chicago - Mason Street Warehouse

PrideSource: "Bertels has the vocal power to lead the opening number, "All that Jazz," and can turn on the humor for the rapid-fire antics of "I Can't Do It Alone.""

MLive: "Charissa Bertels is a wonderfully strong singer and dancer who delivers fine duets as Velma Kelly with Hurder..." A New Brain

"An incredible ensemble cast who vocalize marvelously make this production of A NEW BRAIN an absolute delight… The cast is full of standouts, but ... Charissa Bertels is a vocal knockout as the Homeless Woman."

Red Hot & Cole

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: "A few of the outstanding songs and voices are...Charissa Bertels’ brassy Ethel Merman-style “You’re the Top”..."

Seattle Gay News: "Charissa Bertels scores repeatedly in her work as CLO’s Ethel Merman."

Talkin' Broadway: "Charissa Bertels snappily essays a lot of great material as Ethel Merman and becomes more the Merm as the evening goes on."

The Seattle Times: On The Town

"Two standout vocals grace the first act.  Bertels’ brassy version of “I Can Cook” features a voice as bright as a trumpet and some rollicking tap work."


Annie Get Your Gun

The Enterprise: "However, it is the outstanding and charismatic performance of Charissa Bertels as Annie Oakley that steals the show. Bertels' personality, Annie Oakleyish chutzpah, and effervescent vibrancy light up the stage."


HeraldNet: 'Annie Get Your Gun' a bullseye: "Plus, no doubt about it, newcomer-to-Seattle-stage Bertels in the title role, has a presence and a voice that lights up the show. She is a rising star you can't take your eyes off."


Topeka Capital-Journal: 'Beehive' a fun flashback to yesteryear

Bertels delivered ultimate musical comedy --- great singing coupled with outrageous comedy --- when she sang the old Exciters' hit, "Tell Him." In Act II, Bertels also made eyes pop and sides split as Nancy Sinatra. Bertels' boots were made not only for walking but also for vamping.

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