Musical production breaks down barriers
From left, Jayne Lewis, Michelle E Wright, Janet Martin, and Nicole Robert star in ‘Menopause the Musical’ which has sold out the Jeanne and Peter Lougheed Performing Arts Centre in Camrose on Oct. 13. Supplied
For the last 16 years one play has been breaking down barriers and opening up conversation about a previously undiscussed stage in life.
Menopause the Musical has been making people laugh where previously they shushed and on Oct. 13 the sold-out production will be making a stop at the Jeanne and Peter Lougheed Performing Arts Centre.
“The show hits a nerve with women,” said producer Mark Zimmerman. “I believe menopause was somewhat in the closet in the 50s and 60s and even in the 70s … and I don’t believe mothers shared the change of life with their daughters and didn’t even share it with friends. There was not much understood about the change of life … What this show does is it brings it out to the forefront, and opposed to hiding it, it really celebrates it.”
The synopsis is pretty straight forward. Four women meet in a department store over a table of lingerie all reaching for the same black lace bra.
What starts out as trying to take advantage of a sale, turns into a hysterical journey of hot flashes, forgetfulness, mood swings, wrinkles, night sweats and chocolate binges. Through it all, the four women form a heartfelt bond and sisterhood as they go down the same path together.
For the cast — Jayne Lewis, Michelle E. White, Janet Martin, and Nicole Robert — it’s more than just a script. The four actresses are the original ensemble when the play started touring in Canada 12 years ago.
“(When the show started) most of them weren’t going through the change of life and now they are, so they can relate to it even more,” said Zimmerman. “In theatre it’s called a company, but we’re also a family. We really all get a long, we’ve known each other so long, and they each individually are great, stellar actors unto themselves.”
The play, written by Jeanie Linders, debuted in Orlando and moved to New York in 2002 for an Off-Broadway production where it played 1,500 shows through the spring of 2006. A Las Vegas production has been running since 2006 and is the longest running musical theatrical comedy to ever play there. There are now productions running around the world.
What has made Menopause the Musical so successful is that deals with a topic that was largely taboo previously — often referred to as the Silent Passage — with humour and music. It normalized the phase, and brought women together.
The show incorporates 25 hit songs with very familiar music but with altered lyrics, like “Stayin’ Awake” and “Puff, My God I’m a Draggin’.”
“It’s because of the way it’s handled, it’s because it’s a musical comedy,” said Zimmerman of the success of the show.
However, Zimmerman said it’s not just for women, though it is a natural for a girls’ night out. He said the men will get a kick out of it and the play can actually be good for a relationship.
“Men who do come and see it, love it, and they gain a new fond appreciation what their spouse, wife, partner is going through,” said Zimmerman. “It actually brings couples closer together because now they understand it more.”
The production also gives back to the communities it plays in, with proceeds from a pre-show sale of their Hot Flash Fans going towards Music for Memory.
The Lougheed show is sold out, but there are five other shows in Alberta on this tour, with stops in Fort McMurray, Airdrie, Lloydminster and Fort Saskatchewan. For more information, go to www.menopausethemusical.com.