Menopause the Musical

From the time when men seized control over the healing professions in Europe during the middle ages—partly as a reaction against female herbalists who objected to the importation of sugar and who were then made out to be witches (what the Bush administration would call terrorists)—until this generation, women's medical conditions—from menstruation to pregnancy to menopause—have been dealt with as diseases.

This interference with natural processes by politics and pseudo-science (much like the junta's ongoing appointees to the Department of Health and Human Services and the federal judiciary) has had, like most inquisitions, a deleterious effect on its target. However, within the last couple of generations, women have begun to seize control over their lives. Part of this regeneration involves discussing subjects that had been considered taboo.

So, much as some women may insist that there's nothing funny about menopause, seeing hundreds of women gathered together to laugh about it cannot help but be a good thing. And that's exactly what's happening six days a week at the Denver Civic Theatre for Menopause The Musical.

Photo of Clockwise from upper left: Stephanie Pascaris (Earth Mother), Dee Etta Rowe (Iowa Housewife), Mercedes Perez (Soap Opera Star) and Joilet Harris (Power Woman)
New cast:
(Clockwise from upper left)
Stephanie Pascaris (Earth
Mother),Dee Etta Rowe
(Iowa Housewife), Mercedes
Perez (Soap Opera Star)
and Joilet Harris
(Power Woman)
Photo: Terry Shapiro
On the surface, the premise for the show is simple: Four women meet in Bloomingdale's while fighting over brassieres on sale. In coming to grips with their behavior, they realize that they're all in the throes of menopause. We then follow them from floor to floor, department to department, as they explore the various aspects of "the change," including hot flashes, sweats, food binges, memory issues, far-sightedness, sex, anti-depressants, cosmetic surgery, exercise, care-giving, relationships, and other issues.

Deeper down, though, this is a celebration of sisterhood, sharing, and commiseration. The four women come from different walks of life (Power Woman, a take-charge business executive; Soap Star, a successful but vain actress; Earth Mother, a self-deprecating, brutally honest realist; and Iowa Housewife, a naïve, but eager to learn, former high school cheerleader) as well as different ethnicities—African-American, Hispanic, and Caucasian.

In addition to a well-constructed, if straightforward script, playwright and lyricist Jeanie Linders has filled the show with 28 pop hit songs from 1955 to 1980, all rewritten to poke fun at menopausal moments. The clever lines are too numerous to mention, but my personal favorites were: "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" ("In the guestroom, or on the sofa, my husband sleeps tonight..."); Heat Wave ("I'm having a hot flash..."); and California Girls ("I wish we all could be sane and normal...girls."). You get the idea.

Another bonus is that the show has been cast locally, and what talent there is! All four actresses (Cheryl Renee, Mercedes Perez, Beth Flynn, and Julie Caldwell) have national experience and can sell a song like nobody's business. So, hey, grab your girlfriends and make a night of it.

The Denver Civic Theatre's Menopause the Musical runs through February 12th at The New Denver Civic Theatre. 303-309-3773.

Bob Bows


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