With no-holds barred-performances from ladies unafraid to play the fool and with the resonant, seasoned, mature pipes it takes a lifetime to perfect, Menopause The Musical delivers—on laughs, on honesty, and on fun.
Upon entering the Warner Theatre, it struck me that I had never been immersed within a herd of women (such as those described in Jenny Joseph’s poem “Warning”) as unconcerned with decorum as they. For they pushed, shoved, and line-butted, buzzing with an excitement few shows inspire in an audience. It was amazing, especially when the stage lit up—they whooped and hollered their unabashed enthusiasm for what was to unfold. Here was a group of women (and the occasional man) that were ready to, or had already, embrace(d) what Menopause The Musical celebrates: “the change.”
Set in New York City at Bloomingdales, four middle/upper-aged ladies collide at a lingerie table. Tussling over the choice sales, they begin to bond over their menopausal symptoms, imparting advice, largely, on the youngest of the bunch, the Soap Star (Kimberly Vanbiesbrouck) as led by Earth Mother (Ingrid Cole).
What follows is simply a fun show for anyone’s who’s got a mom, grandma, or sweetheart heading down the proverbial hill or for any woman, for that matter, who wants to know what’s coming or laugh about what has been. So, basically, everyone in the world.
Each cast member has been intimate with this show before, so they wear their roles like favorite cardigans but perform as if it’s the first day of spring—keeping the dialogue snappy, the numbers crisp, and the mood lively. Everything feels fresh when it easily could have become humdrum.
The music takes on the best of the oldies (“The Shoop Song,” “Heatwave,” “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” “Stayin’Alive,” etc…), made-over with clever lyrics that cover hot flashes, bladder control, sex and aging. The best numbers involve all four ladies, as each infuses the routines with individualized spunk. The rendition of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” (now dealing with a man’s reaction to his wife’s “change”) is a testament to how people acting like a cacophony of jungle creatures is always, always hysterical when done with an air of sophistication and aplomb. The poise this cast holds—even when chattering like monkeys? Amazing.
Sandra Benton (Professional Woman) steals the stage in a few scenes—it’s hard for her not too, especially when she struts onto stage a la Tina Turner from her “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” days. But, Liz Hyde (Iowa Housewife/Dance Captain) had me from hello with her chirpy, Midwest housewife. It was like spending an evening with my mom, and that was best part of the show for me. Feeling like I was with the crazy, menopausal lady I love the most.
Stealing into the lingerie section in search of something to spice up her love life, the Iowa Housewife picks the perfect see through nightie. Stretching and pulling it’s tiny shape to cover her full, full, figure, the silent showdown to make it fit is a universal experience shared by all women—from pre-pubescent to post-menopausal. It’s a tender, funny moment that captures the show’s spirit of with nary of word.
This is the perfect (young or old) ladies-night-out show. When it comes to your city, see it and share with your best friends.
Performances of Menopause the Musical at the Warner Theatre closed June 15, 2014.
Menopause the Musical . Book and Lyrics by Jeanie Linders; Directed by Seth Greenleaf . Cast: Sandra Benton (Professional Woman), Kimberly Vanbiesbrouck (Soap Star), Ingrid Cole (Earth Mother), and Liz Hyde (Iowa Housewife/Dance Captain)
Production credits: Christopher R. Wood (Company Manager), Jenny Jacobs (Production Stage Manager), Jeffrey D. Holmes (Assistant Stage Manager), Heatherlyn Egan (Technical director/Lighting Supervisor) and Kate Wecker (Audio Supervisor) . Music recorded by Michael Dubay (Keyboards), Don Meoli (Drums), and Jonathan Rem (Bass) . Produced by GFour Productions at the Warner Theatre . Reviewed by Kelly McCorkendale.