Crank up the A.C. and start the music: "Menopause The Musical" is in town.

It is girls' night out this weekend at the UB Center for the Arts, with the hit and hot revue taking over the stage, the audience and all the ladies rooms. The subject? One of the (way) less sexy facts of life for women of a certain age, one to be dreaded, endured and, for about 90 minutes with this show, laughed at all the way to the nice cold shower.

The show's cast of four play very different women with one big thing in common. They meet over a sale table at Bloomingdale's one morning, setting in motion a trip down what is known euphemistically as "the Silent Passage" but here is faced full frontal and in grand voice.

The quartet makes for a raucously funny girl group, pounding out menopausal parodies of pop oldies but goodies, led by the exceptional voice of Lisa Mack. After she kicks things off with a soulful "Change Change Change," and you wonder why they used up their best stuff first, the ensemble keeps aiming higher, pausing only long enough to catch a quick breath and ahem dry off.

There's the Professional Woman (Mack), a stellar Kittra Coomer as the zaftig Earth Mother, Carolynne Warren, whose performance sneaks up on you as the perky Iowa Housewife who comes into her own, and frisky Patti Gardner, as the Soap Star who refuses to go gently in that good old age. The plot? Who needs a plot? This "Menopause" isn't trying to send any messages to anyone; its audience has already gotten the word.

It isn't art, it's catharsis, a one-subject party for those whose hourglass figures, as the Earth Mother says, are now a glass of water, who don't wake up with night sweats because they can never fall asleep (cue the start of "Staying Awake," for those whose "Saturday Night Fevers" happen all week long).

Friday night's large audience was primed and ready to go, and the company did not disappoint. They covered failing eyesight, mood swings, weight gain, lack of sex drive (the husbands'), and in two dozen songs, how to cope with a change that sometimes makes you not even recognize yourself. As the Housewife says, "I know I've changed. I'm a lot more pushy when I'm not crying."

The Soap Star has it almost the worst of all, since her job depends on looking good. "I used to be a size 2," she moans. Long pause as the women absorb this information. "So did my right leg," responds Earth Mother.

There's not a tin note in the night, but the best of the jokes come when the lyrics need very little rewriting at all by writer/producer Jeanie Linders. Mack belts out "What's Love Got to Do With It" as Warren, the not-meek-anymore housewife, gets a lesson in -- shall we say self-fulfillment? -- while serenading a vibrating pink microphone with "Only You (can thrill me like you do)."

Having a heat wave? Is, as Gardner sings, your "personal summer really a bummer?" Then girlfriend, do they have a show in just your size. Because face it, if we weren't laughing, we'd be crying, and which would you rather do?



"Menopause The Musical"

3 stars (out of four)

Touring production presented at University at Buffalo Center for the Arts, Mainstage Theatre, UB North Campus, Amherst. Continues today at 2 and 8 p.m.; Sunday at 2 p.m.

Tickets: 645-ARTS or