Someday Productions LLC and Pillow Talking are pleased to present the following review of MENOPAUSE THE MUSICAL at the Westchester Broadway Theatre (WBT)
Through March 24th
There are three things that are certain in life: death, taxes, and change. You can’t avoid change, it’s mandatory, progress however is optional. – Unknown
I’ll admit the idea of going through menopause, or what’s commonly referred to as The Change, isn’t a great one for me. And despite the fact it is a natural part of a woman’s aging process and it even has a plus side – namely the end of 30+ years of dealing with dreaded monthly menstrual period annoyances – it also marks the end of fertility and brings with it a host of other often bothersome symptoms from physical to emotional and psychological and even social. But we women don’t have a choice in the matter. Like death and taxes, it’s an inevitable change if we’re fortunate to live long enough.
But progress? That we have made. Progress in how we view women and women’s issues, including those related to their health, physical appearance, and more. As a culture, we’ve lightened up our views about both menstruation and menopause and in many cases have opened dialogue so that we can better understand and accept what happens to our bodies at any given age and stage. We are also living in a time where we can be proud to promote the power of the female and for many of us, we relish sisterhood and the support it brings us.
This is all at the core of Westchester Broadway Theatre’s Menopause The Musical, the scorchingly saucy production which pulls no punches when it comes to the cyclone of a woman’s waning hormones and the host of other irritations ranging from hot flashes to insomnia; weight gain to mood changes; libido shifts to bladder control.
When four female shoppers in Manhattan’s Bloomingdales meet across a lingerie display, they find themselves unexpectedly connected by more than just the fierce tug-of-war over reduced-priced lace and underwire. Drifting from department to department as well as frequent stops at the ladies’ room, they continue to cross path; as they do, they hilariously and empathetically commiserate about their common gripes with regard to The Change.
Just who are these fine ladies of “a certain age”? The Professional Woman played by Donna J. Huntley; the Soap Star played by Debby Rosenthal; the Earth Mother (and Dance Captain) played by Megan Cavanagh; and the Iowa Housewife played by Roberta B. Wall all represent different sides of the same coin. They are women who initially loathe but soon come to embrace the sisterhood of change and the transition to late middle age. They are all entering a time where energies can, if one chooses, be directed toward reflection, personal growth, and the freedom that comes with caring a bit less about superficiality and more about the things that matter.
While Menopause The Musical will have both women and men of all ages rolling in the aisles as they identify with and relate to the signs and symptoms of The Change, it is also a production filled with great heart. Knock-down-drag-out parodies of classic songs from the sixties through the eighties punctuate the dialogue and action.
Huntley is all attitude as the Professional Woman; in control in her work life, she’s unable to control the changes to her body and mind, but she does all she can to try! She rocks the house just as much in a business suit as she does in a Tina Turner get-up. Rosenthal as the Soap Star is the queen of Botox and silicone, grappling the most with the changes to her outward appearance. She’s a riotous beauty, openly acknowledging her frustration about the newer and younger TV soap opera blood who are fast on her heels and looking to replace her.
Cavanagh as the Earth Mother is the quirky Woodstock-esque friend to everyone. Just one “Om” and she’ll have you in stitches. Many will remember her as Marla Hooch in “A League of Their Own,” or as Judy Neutron in “Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius.” She’s got spirit and soul in droves. Last, but certainly not least, is Wall as the Iowa Housewife who is equally as brilliant as the innocent, constantly-needing-to-pee, frumpy wife and mother. Stronger than she knows, she rounds out the quartet and is a hoot when she lets go in a satin negligee (I won’t spoil it by telling you the prop she caresses in this number!).
Shout-outs to Ryan Patridge for lighting design; Bud Clark for set design; Sue Hill for costume design; and Steve Shapiro for sound design. Also, to recordings by Michael Dubay on keyboards; Don Meoli on drums; and Jonathan Rem on bass. Kudos as well to Natalie Nucci as Choreography Supervisor; to Alan J. Plado as Music Supervisor and for additional arrangements; to Caleb Spivey as Production Stage Manager; and to Victor Lukas as Assistant Stage Manager.
With brilliant book and lyrics by Jeanie Linders and masterfully directed by Seth Greenleaf, Menopause The Musical is a must see – and while I’m not there yet, I did turn to my husband/co-reviewer during the show and asked, “Is this what I have to look forward to?” Rather, what I should have asked, “Is this what WE have to look forward to?”!! If I have a group of friends like these to accompany me, I’d imagine I’ll be in store for a fantastic cross-country journey more than a rocky ride through the raging rapids! Women unite!
So when we had the pleasure of seeing Menopause The Musical at Westchester Broadway Theatre (WBT) in what is being called a “pre-Broadway run,” all I could think about was how a middle-aged-leaning-to-senior male going to find any sort of relevance, relatability, much less comedy in a show about four different types of women going through The Change in Bloomingdale’s department store. I am lucky in that my wife is quite a bit younger than myself. I was a late baby for my mother and I really do not recall her going through menopause. So, at the very least, I figured the show would be educational for me.
Well, not only was it educational (as I have recently discovered that there is “male menopause” known as andropause and I am apparently in the midst of it)*, but I must say the show was side-splittingly hilarious. Yes, there were jokes and jabs about hot flashes and aging, but the show itself was incredibly youthful with a vibrant verve. A slew of popular jukebox songs were parodied to underscore the feelings, moods, and actions of the four characters. The pacing is brilliant; one belly laugh ends just in time for another to begin – a carefully planned domino effect by its writer, Jeanie Linders, who said in the notes that play “came out of [her] standing in front of the freezer singing the words “Hot Flash” to Rod Stewart’s “Hot Legs.” Rather than spoil it for you, you’ll just have to see the show to see how creatively they parodied songs like Good Vibrations, Heat Wave, and My Guy to name a few.
Prolific Broadway maestro, Seth Greenleaf, who is probably a gazillionaire just from his four shows currently running on Broadway including the knock-down-drag-out hit The Book of Mormon, did an absolute masterful job of directing.
Of course, the wonderful cast of four women (all of whom had more energy than the combined cast of The Golden Girls and those battery bunnies you see all the time in ads) kept the flow of laughter and guffaws from start to finish. Donna J. Huntley (Professional Woman), Debby Rosenthal (Soap Star), Megan Cavanagh (Earth Mother) and last, but not least, Roberta B. Wall (Iowa Housewife) gave all-out, over-the-top (in the best possible way) performances, holding nothing back. Some of the best moments came when they broke the fourth wall and interacted with the audience.
Menopause The Musical is a show for everyone who loves live theatre, good music, great acting and direction, relatable motifs, and rib-cracking laughter. Oh, and in addition to all the above, it is very educational!
NB: A study in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) identifies the most common symptoms of male menopause as decreased libido, a lower frequency of morning erections, and erectile dysfunction.
The study lists other symptoms that include a loss of energy, an inability to walk more than 1 kilometer, or 0.62 miles, and difficulties completing strenuous physical tasks, such as running or lifting heavy objects.
Kneeling, bending, and stooping might also become more difficult.
Depression and fatigue might also set in as a result of the change in male hormone levels.
I will not divulge how many or which of the above symptoms I have! – Wayne J. Keeley