The “Silent Passage,” the life-changing event that women once feared and men once dismissed, is no longer muted, but rather relished. Women no longer hide the erratic emotions cultivated by it and no longer feel embarrassed by it. In fact they celebrate it. Since 2001, women have been celebrating through song and dance the many emotional and physical upheavals of the once-dreaded menopause.
Jeanie Linders, writer and producer of Menopause The Musical, had a dream — a hot, sticky, sweaty dream — to show women (and their men) that life after 40 is invigorating, adventurous and at times, laughable. She took her experiences of “The Change” to the stage, and over the past several years those experiences have been seen, recognized and cheered for by 9 million women and have raised over a million dollars.
Obviously the show is meant to appeal to women, but as a man … yes, albeit a gay man, but a man nonetheless (at least in some opinions), I found the production hysterical and endearing. I walked out of the theater confessing to my friend that the show has made me want to go through menopause, too. And the more I thought about it, I realized I may already be going through it … at least something similar. I haven’t experienced hot flashes or night sweats, but I have been prone to bouts of inexplicable anger, random bursts of tears, an insatiable need for sex, weight gain and displacement, bladder control issues and the occasional loss of memory.
Not to make light of “The Change,” I’m merely suggesting that men may be more aware and understanding of it than they chose to admit, and therefore would seriously get a kick out of the show.
The show parodies a score or more of well-known songs from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s including The Lion Sleeps Tonight, Stayin’ Alive, I Got You Babe and Help Me Rhonda backed by four sensational actresses Nancy Slusser (the soap star), Monique M. Whittington (the business woman), Jains Roeton (the Earth mother) and Liz Hyde (the Iowa housewife).
Inside New York City’s Bloomingdale’s, four 40-something women come in contact during a scuffle at a lingerie rack, and immediately feel a deep-rooted connection. Throughout the afternoon and several departments, the ladies share their experiences of menopause with each other through mostly song and dance (there are minimal spoken lines) like disco-driven “night sweatin’” on satin sheets and masturbatory “good vibrations” with a pink “microphone” prop.
Whittington’s voice is as strong as her character and her Tina Turner act, What’s Love Got To Do With It, is memorable. Slusser and Reton are well cast as the past-her-prime soap star and the peace-loving, pot-smoking vegetarian, respectively. But the stand-out performance goes to Liz Hyde, whose portrayal of a naïve, homely housewife is blissfully simple. Her solely physical scene towards the end of the show is the highlight of the evening and will literally knock you out of your seat.
Some numbers were a little over the top, but all-in-all, Menopause The Musical will have you turning red in the face and teary-eyed from laughter, sexually charged (wishing you’d bought one of the “Hot Flash Fans” before the show for a buck) and so elated you’ll forget where you parked the car. Sound familiar?
Menopause The Musical, presented by Broadway Across America Utah, plays through Feb. 24 at the Rose Wagner Center, 138 W. Broadway. Tickets $25-45, 355-ARTS or arttix.org.