"Menopause the Musical"
Long Wharf Theatre, New Haven
Be forewarned that “Menopause the Musical” is for, by and about women—a message to the sisterhood. Not that the male population cannot benefit from seeing this fast, funny show. “Menopause” is so cleverly written and stunningly performed that it would capture any audience.
The theme focuses on the plight of women after a certain age. They must deal with sagging breasts, hot flashes, inattentive mates, insomnia, added pounds, younger women. Ultimately, though, “Menopause” is not a litany of whines and complaints, but a celebration of life. And never more so than in this current production at Long Wharf.
Jeanie Linders, who has written the book and lyrics, has cleverly parodied well-known pop pieces and show tunes, bending them to her end. For example, “My Guy” becomes “My Thighs,” and “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” stretches into “In the Guest Room on the Couch My Husband Sleeps Tonight.” “We’re Having a Tropical Heat Wave” becomes “I’m Having a Hot Flash.” She sets her tale in Bloomingdale’s, as the four women work their way through floors, departments, and grievances.
Four players—Adrienne Cote, Dee Etta Rowe, Avery Sommers, and Kathy St. George—each depict a different type: Iowa Housewife, Earth Mother, Power Woman, and Soap Star. And though each appears to have her life and career in control, the songs indicate otherwise.
All four are thorough-going pros, with strong comedic skills and abilities to put over the songs. While each creates a distinctive character, it is as an ensemble that they shine. Under Kathryn Conte’s direction, they move smoothly from song to song, with one woman featured as the others provide melodic, rhythmic back-up. And here and there, very funny dialogue helps delineate each character’s dilemmas.
But indeed the star of this show may well be the audience itself. On the night we attended, the very mood was palpable, with the audience responding excitedly to each moment and becoming a vocal part of the show. It was the ‘70s women’s movement all over again, with the same excitement, hope, and sense of change in the air. Not surprisingly, women ran to the stage to join the performers in the last song-and-dance number with religious fervor. For that moment, at least, all women were in accord.
-- Irene Backalenick
June 12, 2006