IF YOU GO
What: Four women toss of parodies of pop hits while taking a laughing look at "The Change"
When: Tuesday through Sunday evenings with selected matinées through May 18.
Where: 1380 Colonial Boulevard, Fort Myers (in Royal Palm Square)
Cost: $21 to $55. Show only tickets available.
Information: 239-278-4422 or broadwaypalm.com
Something Else: 90 minutes, no intermission.
On the Web: More theater news at The Stage Door blog
Ladies, this one is for you. "Menopause the Musical™" runs through May 18. Call. Now.
Put down the paper. Call. Now.
Grab your sister, your mother, your girlfriends and the gals from the office. Their female relatives too! Group discounts start at 20 people and I'm told the drinks are lethal. Every woman in the room - from 35 to 90 - was in stitches from the first hot flash to the last gray-haired kick line.
Ninety solid minutes and only a bare handful of folks got up to go to the bathroom. No crowds bum rushed the exits. Almost every seat in the house - even the theatre seats in the back - were full on Saturday night. Two tour groups whooped and hollered. Broadway Palm's "Menopause the Musical™" is a bona fide hot (flash) seller.
So. Girls, if you've ever had a hot flash, night sweats, sudden urges to go or any other symptoms of "the change," "Menopause the Musical™" is your destination. I advise experiencing it in groups - large groups; the more the merrier.
Now, my opinion on the show.
"Menopause the Musical™" is what it is. Jeanie Linders parodies two dozen pop tunes (mostly from the '60s) in what's supposed to be a light-hearted, fun look at "the change." Four nameless women (a housewife, a businesswoman, an actress and a hippie) meet over a bin of bras at Bloomingdales. In 90 minutes, they go through seven floors of makeovers, pills, potty breaks, insomnia and everything else related to the big "M."
The show comes off cute, but thin. The performances and sight gags - especially some of the physical comedy - brought laugh out loud exclamations from me. The rest of the material leaves much to be desired.
The show contains little by way either plot or coherence. The quartet ambles Bloomingdale's for an afternoon, welded together in a state of night sweats and incontinence. Every conversation yields an opportunity (or three) to burst into song. Director Seth Greenleaf does a solid, if not spectacular job of keeping the stage from feeling empty.
"Menopause the Musical™" arrives at Broadway Palm as part of a partnership between the Prathers and GFour Productions, the company that manages the show. A tour played four dates at Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall in April 2010.
"Menopause the Musical™" marries parody lyrics of questionable skill and ability to classic pop songs. Consider Irving Berlin's "Heat Wave:" "My personal summer is really a bummer / I'm having a hot flash. / Comes on like a car crash / No warning just hot flash / Outside it is nippy, but I'm hot and drippy." And that's just a tiny sample.
Funny? Yes, especially when the ladies on stage are yelling out the lyrics "I'm having a hot flash!" and dramatically mopping their face, neck, back, arms, etc. While they're doing that, most every woman in the crowd is cheering in agreement. It's like a prayer meeting with wine, laughter and choreography.
For all the humor and the fact that most every woman can identify with the jokes, the show lacks true emotional resonance, sacrificing pathos for cheap laughs. Dare I mention the even cheaper joke about sex toys backed by Beach Boys tune "Good Vibrations." But, you know, I laughed along with everyone else when the uptight housewife popped out of a changing room waving a pink microphone designed to look very much like a certain part of the male anatomy. The gags - as trite as they are - work.
Does it really matter? No. I wish Linders did more to celebrate how women face the change than ticking a checklist of menopause symptoms and coughing up lyrics that would embarrass a third-grader. But the comedy - and the show's remarkable skill at finding universal themes to grab a crowd nearly from the word go - make up for a multitude of sins.
A quartet of actresses - lovely songbirds all - put their best spins on menopause. Eleonore Thomas practically steals the show as she struggles to get into a too-small piece of lacy lingerie while wearing an "I HEART New York" T-shirt. The wordless sequence got bigger, more authentic laughs than anything else on the night. Her pointed enunciation "TURN. UP. THE. VOLUME. ON. YOUR. HEARING. AID. MOTHER!" as she screamed into the phone resulted in table pounding, foot-stomping and what I swear was a woman screaming "YES! YES! YES!"
Whitney Hayes brings the pipes and swagger to a more-than-creditable bootylicious version of Tina Turner's "What's Love Got To Do With It?" anthem. Erin Fish brings sass and verve to her soap star; I love her foray into the audience and the flirtations with one overly pleased gentleman who might have gotten a "hot flash" of his own. Megan Opalinski offers over-the-top silliness, endless "Ommm" calming chants and granola goddess sensibilities as the hippie "Earth Mother." Her ode to sleepless nights feels powerfully authentic.
I wish the show were smarter - and found something to say about "the change" other than "buy a toy (and batteries)" - but at least it serves up a near-riot of laughs. From the first brawl over a bra to the last laugh over lingerie, these gals make menopause something to look forward to.
I'll take the "men" in "menopause." Email me, email@example.com, find me on Twitter at @napleschris or read my Stage Door theater blog. You can also sign up to receive the Stage Door blog via email.