“You’re going to love this show,” the usher confided to me. “It’s a hoot.”
I had heard about shows being hoots. Didn’t know if I had ever seen one. Maybe, somewhere along the line. Perhaps, I thought, this national touring play with the intriguing title, “Menopause: The Musical,” will finally put me into the hoot column.
And you know what? It did. The show is a success wherever it has gone – multiple crisscrossing American tours, 250 cities in 13 foreign countries and more than 1,300 performances off-Broadway. It is estimated to have been seen by 11 million people, both genders, since its bow in 2001. Jeanie Linders, a passionate voice for women’s causes, is the creator. The current “Menopause” tour has 25 stops scheduled through this fall. It plays in 710 Main Theatre through July 20.
There’s a cast of four expert actresses/singers/dancers: Sandra Benton (Professional Woman), Kimberly Vanbiesbrouck (TV Soap Star), Ingrid Cole (Earth Mother) and Roberta B. Wall (Iowa Housewife). All are longtime touring veterans of this show and boast impressive national credits elsewhere. Director Seth Greenleaf is a lucky man.
The ladies meet at Bloomingdale’s, in the lingerie department. There’s a spat over some unmentionables and while the shoppers do apologize for their unseemly behavior and out-of-control emotions, they find that they have something in common: all are in the throes of “The Change,” the “Silent Passage,” menopause. They are either coming or going.
For the rest of the 90-minute “Menopause: The Musical,” they sing and dance about it to 25 familiar tunes from the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, golden oldies, but with a difference. Book writer and lyricist Linders has hilariously parodied the original words to chronicle some aggravating menopausal symptoms: night sweats, raging hormones, fast and frequent trips to the bathroom, mood swings and body parts that, well, seem to have shifted or migrated, food cravings, sleeplessness, temper tantrums and hot flashes aplenty.
The sometimes repetitive situations, the songs – and accompanying choreography by Daria Lynne Melendez – produce an evening full of giggles and guffaws and cries of “That’s me!” from many an audience member. Revisionist lyricist Linders outdid herself on some of the songs. The Bee Gee’s “Stayin’ Alive” becomes “Stayin’ Awake;” the Mary Wells hit, “My Guy,” has evolved into “My Thighs;” “Wishin’ and Hopin’,” testimony to those day-night sweating bouts, is now “Drippin’ and Droppin’,” with a nod to Dusty Springfield; and the eating frenzy has a tune: “Looking for Food (In All the Wrong Places).” It’s inspired fun.
Benton, Vanbiesbrouck, Cole and Wall are simply terrific, high-energy, bawdy, cranky, contagiously optimistic that this too shall pass and then … a survivor’s new attitude. Benton’s Tina Turner minutes are near-perfect; Cole’s comic skills are impeccable; the silky Vanbiesbrouck is a dancing queen; and Wall brings the house down on “My Thighs.”
Men-bashing is absent. Well, maybe some passing pique when the ladies remember in hilarious chorus that their husbands always slept through their worst times, moments recalled in “My Husband Sleeps Tonight,” to the tune of a resurrected “Wimoweh.”
So, it’s a girl’s night out – and it’s a wonderful time. A hoot, you might say.
“Menopause The Musical”
3 1/2 stars (Out of four)
Through July 20 in 710 Main Theatre, 710 Main St. Tickets are $35 to $45 (Shea’s box office, Ticketmaster).