Menopause: The Musical–and a Worthy Workshop For Men–at Flagler Auditorium
FlaglerLive | January 8, 2016
It wasn’t that long ago when the word “pregnant” was thought too vulgar by television’s traditionally dim-witted censors, as a 1952 episode of “I Love Lucy” reminds us. In 2001, writer Jeanie Linders helped “menopause,” a word kept on the hush in past generations, enter public acceptance with an unlikely comedy, “Menopause: The Musical.” This play, staged twice Sunday (Jan. 10) at the Flagler Auditorium–at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.–follows four distinct prototypical women who find themselves at a lingerie sale in Bloomingdales—Professional Woman, Iowa Housewife, Earth Mother, and Soap Star—all experiencing similar yet unfamiliar changes as they undergo the “silent passage,” as the show calls it.
Soon they’re engaged in 25 songs that parody popular music from the baby boomer era. The original meanings have been swapped in favor of croonings over chocolate cravings, hot flashes, memory loss, night sweats, and issues in the bedroom. Some of these songs include: not “Puff the Magic Dragon,” but “Puff, My God, I’m Dragging.” Not “Stayin’ Alive” but rather “Stayin’ Awake.” And not “My Guy,” but “My Thighs.”
“They think that they’re losing control and I think that this show has this little magic formula that three-quarters of the way through, and it doesn’t shout it—it’s kind of subliminal—but I think that the message is that there’s still life to be lived,” says Kathi Glist, producer for GFour Productions, the company responsible for this version of the production. “Grab that brass ring and get out there and make the rest of your life the best of your life.”
Linders had originally self-produced the show in a 76-foot converted Orlando perfume shop. That was after she started writing the songs on her own, just for fun, before her friends advised her that she’d really stumbled onto something. They encouraged her to infuse the songs into a musical. Only after she saw it play out herself on that small stage, Glist says, did she really believe she had something. “It’s not Shakespeare or Sondheim. If you look at the script in black and white, you might not think that it’s a must-produce, but seeing it performed, seeing how the audience relates to the girls on the stage, the characters, the material and how uplifting and empowering it is, that’s what grabbed us.”
“I love watching people walk in carrying the burden of not just menopause, but the burden of their day on their shoulders,” Glist says. “You know, as excited as people may be to have a night out or a girls’ night or a night at the theater, you can just see how people walk in the door and when they leave the theater they have smiles on their faces; they’re chattering, they’re laughing, they’re talking about it,” she adds. “This show is a vehicle that I think puts it into perspective for them.”
Ingrid Cole plays Earth Mother, the free-spirited type of mom that, needs no introduction: “She’s trying to keep the peace between the ladies,” Cole says. “Everyone can relate to Menopause. It doesn’t matter what language you speak, what country you live in, the color of your skin or if you’re man or woman. If you’re human walking the earth, you know what menopause is, and if you don’t, you will, soon enough.” There are five characters in the show, she says, and the fifth one is the audience.
Linda Boston plays Professional Woman (the character went by Power Woman in the original production) and takes on the personality of a possible Fortune 500 executive. “We all face this change that we go through and what makes her become their sister in Bloomingdales is this camaraderie.” It’s the similarities in experience that bring the women to the same level.
The show is empowering for women (in addition to all those other transformational buzz words), but Boston says it’s great for men, too. Some patrons have left the show saying it should be a “mandatory male workshop,” Boston says. Men can “stop whispering about it,” she says. “They can figure out what’s going on. Men are really trying to wrap their heads around why it’s the winter and their wives are opening the window in the middle of the night. ‘What’s that all about?’ That’s important—for the other people that you’re living with to understand what you’re going through,” she says. “Instead of hormone replacement therapy, it’s humor replacement therapy.”
GFour Productions has a strong philanthropic legacy of bringing awareness to women’s issues. The company is affiliated with Susan G. Komen, brough breast-cancer awareness into the mainstream, and in the past the company was aligned with the national Ovarian Cancer Coalition.
Menopause: The Musical comes to the Flagler Auditorium for two shows only, Sunday, Jan. 10 at 3 p.m. and 7:30 the same night. The 3 p.m. show was almost sold-out by Friday afternoon. For more ticket information, call the auditorium’s box office at 437-7547 or visit the website. ($2 of each ticket sale benefits Susan G. Komen, the foundation devoted to breast cancer research.)
Note: This story originally appeared in January 2015, previewing the show’s performance at the time.