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Claws are out to find the purr-fect young man; Off Broadway hit Cougar The Musical comes to the Belgrade Theatre this month. CATHERINE VONLEDEBUR talks to the play's writer, Donna Moore.

DEMI MOORE and Ashton Kutcher had just married when Donna Moore began writing Cougar The Musical.

The couple's relationship ended in divorce in 2011 but the show became a surprise off Broadway hit and on May 16 it makes its UK premiere at Coventry's Belgrade Theatre.

An original four-person show, Cougar the Musical is about three women who unleash their inner cougar by dating younger men and, in the process, find self-love and empowerment.

Younger men me women West End star Dawn Hope plays high-flying academic Clarity, Stargate SG-1's Suanne Braun is Mary-Marie, who opens a Cougar bar, while Pippa Winslow plays twice-divorced mother Lilly.

are secure, sexually They are joined by Barnaby Hughes as Buck and it is directed by Belgrade creative associate Patricia Benecke.

and more. woman who is very The cast sing and dance their way through songs ranging from grinding blues to doo wop, to pop to a romantic ballad.

Writer Donna is flying in from her New York home for the premiere. The American stand-up comedian, playwright, lyricist and composer chats about inspirational real-life cougars, why women enjoy dating younger men and Bo Derek's ping-pong lounge.

How are you feeling about Cougar The Musical making its UK premiere? I am feeling so excited. I am actually on my way to Korea tomorrow. They are doing 60 performances of Cougar The Musical with some of the biggest Korean pop stars - in Korean! I am going for five days. I am so excited.

'' I am even more excited to come to the UK. I have never been. I have some friends in the US who say it's their favourite place. I have heard there is a lot of history in the Coventry area. I'm going to go with the flow.

told older had confidence, more financially When did you first hear the term ''cougar''? experienced smiled At a party in 2006. I remember thinking it was derogatory. I mean, men have been dating younger women forever.

smiles I wrote the lyrics for a song called The Cougar which attractive became the 11th hour number in my one-woman show, The Cougar Cabaret. A producer in the audience said he would get behind me if I wrote a whole show about cougars.

What research did you do? I started speaking to five women who made a conscious decision to date younger men. When I asked them why, they told me younger men are more open, they want to have more fun, they're at their sexual prime and like to party until the morning.

Younger men told me older women had confidence, are more financially secure, sexually experienced and smiled more. A woman who smiles is very attractive.

A lot of younger men said they could hang out with older women without any strings attached.

However, I know some women are looking for a relationship, so it doesn't always work out.

Who do you regard as inspirational real-life cougars? Demi Moore was dating Ashton Kutcher when I started writing Cougar the Musical. It was a really big catalyst. Then, of course, that relationship tanked and she went into rehab.

I don't think the world is quite so focused on cougars anymore.

But Bo Derek has been dating John Corbett, a really handsome younger actor - who played Chris Stevens in Northern Exposure and Aidan, Carrie Bradshaw's boyfriend, in Sex and the City - for 12 years.

Susan Sarandon is no longer in a relationship with the actor Tim Robbins, who was 12 years younger. But for the past five years the 68-year-old actress has had a younger boyfriend (entrepreneur Jonathan Bricklin, aged 37). They run a ping pong restaurant in New York called SPiN. It's really cool, They have 20 ping pong tables.

Have you ever been out with a younger man? I once dated a man who was nine years younger. We were in the same volleyball league. It just happened he was younger. He had a lot in common with me. Personally, it doesn't matter what age a man is. I look for someone whose company I really enjoy. I did not want a series of sexual encounters that only lasted a night or two.

Were you prepared for the reaction it received on Broadway and what are you up to now? It was a dream come true. I am now writing a new musical - it's a paranormal, Stella Gets Her Groove Back. I'm also working on a comedy series for TV.

If there was to be a film version of Cougar the Musical who would you like to see play the three central female characters? What a great question! As Clarity I'd love to see Brenda Braxton, she's a Toni-nominated Broadway star who played Clarity in the off Broadway show. I'd love to see Rita Wilson (Tom Hanks' wife) as Lilly. Nicole Kidman would also make a great Lilly. Mary-Marie would have to be an incredible comedian who is just full of pep.

? Cougar The Musical runs from May 16 to June 6, in B2, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry. Tickets cost PS9-PS21.25. Ring 024 7655 3055 or go to www.belgrade.co.uk

'' Younger men told me older women had confidence, are more financially secure, sexually experienced and smiled more. A woman who smiles is very attractive

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Starring in Cougar The Musical |at the Belgrade Theatre (above, from left) Dawn Hope, Susan Braun and Pippa Winslow and (right) writer Donna Moore
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 1, 2015
Words:904
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