Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region.  

Janet Martin (Iowa Housewife), Nicole Robert (Earth Mother), Jayne Lewis (Soap Star), Michelle E. White (Professional Woman)

Janet Martin (Iowa Housewife), Nicole Robert (Earth Mother), Jayne Lewis (Soap Star), Michelle E. White (Professional Woman)

“Good evening, ladies. And you too, sir.”

The producer’s introduction acknowledges the target audience and underlines that the connection with Menopause The Musical is through common experience — past, present or anticipated. (For the record, there were four men in the capacity audience on the evening that I saw the award-winning show and they were laughing almost as hard as the rest.)

Menopause The Musical by Jeanie Linders premiered in 2001, and, according to the show’s official website, some 11 million people — mainly women, often of that certain age — have laughed their way through the 90 minutes celebrating the change of life, courtesy of the four types representing them all: a professional woman, a star of daytime TV, an ex-hippie and a small-town housewife.

The action begins at the lingerie sale counter in Bloomingdale’s department store in New York. The four women — never named to emphasize the universality of hot flashes, memory glitches, weight gain, frequent bathroom visits, mood swings and so on — sing about their menopausal experiences with melodies borrowed from the pop charts of the 1960s and 70s.

So, songs such as Puff, the Magic Dragon becomes Puff, My God, I’m Dragging and My Guy becomes My Thighs, as the housewife bemoans the heftiness of her nether regions. To the tune of The Lion Sleeps Tonight, we hear that “In a guest room, on the sofa, my husband sleeps at night.” Meanwhile, The Great Pretender is the vehicle for explaining the handling of forgetfulness. The clever parodies are very funny and the familiarity of the pop melodies increases the humour quotient at every well-orchestrated and well-choreographed turn and through each smooth scene change.

As directed by Seth Greenleaf, the well-chosen cast of the Shaggypup Productions delivers on vocals, fun and ensemble quality. The standout is jazz singer Michelle E. White as the professional woman, but all four have great fun with their roles and that fun is infectious and immediately spreads through the audience.

Costumes by Sue Hill differentiate the four types extremely effectively. My only quibble is with the bumpy quality of the padding used to make Iowa housewife (Janet Martin) appear overweight.

It is also a little difficult to justify why an ex-hippie earth mother type (a very funny performance from Nicole Robert) would land up in an upscale urban department store fighting for a black lace bra. But, Menopause The Musical is not the type of show meant for detailed analysis. It is exactly what the presenters call it: a “hilarious celebration of women and the change” of life.

 

Menopause The Musical continues at the Gladstone to November 22.

Director: Seth Greenleaf

Music supervisor: Alan J. Plado

Technical director: Brad Trenaman

Choreographer: Daria Lynne Melendez

Lighting: Ryan A. Patridge

Sound: Steve Shapiro

Costumes: Sue Hill

 

Cast

Professional woman……………………………………….Michelle E. White

Soap star……………………………………………………Jayne Lewis

Earth mother………………………………………………..Nicole Robert

Iowa housewife…………………………………………….Janet Martin

Swing/Iowa housewife/dance captain……………………..Jenny Hall

 

Bamd

Keyboards………………………………………………….Michael Dubay

Drums………………………………………………………Don Meoli

Bass…………………………………………………………Jonathan Rem