Menopause the Musical“Inspired by a hot flush and a bottle of wine” (in the words of creator Jeanie Linders), Menopause the Musical begins yet another season as a preview to its 2009 tour. The show’s been running since 2001 and has certainly been successful in reaching its target market – women aged mostly between 30 and 80 (In a mostly full auditorium last night, I counted only six men).

Set in a department store, where four women with seemingly nothing in common but a black lace bra meet by chance. There is relatively no plot, but the musical sings along with parodies of known hits from the 60s and 70s including The Great Pretender, Only You, The Lion Sleeps Tonight, Stand by Your Man and I Will Survive. Some songs work better than others. While some are cluttered with repetitive, clumsy lyrics, others really ‘hit home’. Maria Mercedes' version of Fever was one of the more memorable moments.

The musical pokes fun at things such as hot flashes, memory loss, mood swings, wrinkles, night sweats and eating binges and by the reactions of the women in the audience, many of them nodding throughout the show, it felt like the show hit a chord with the audience time and time again.

The cast includes Vivien Davies, Maria Mercedes, Angela Ayers and Cindy Pritchard. All performers served the piece well, full of energy and each having their moments of connection with the audience. The direction by Gary Young was slick, keeping the show moving and the audience entertained.

The production suffers from lack of budget, feeling like it’s been done on a shoe-string. Paul Keelan is a wonderful musical director, but I did hear comments wondering if a Karaoke backing track was used.

While I found the show more like a well-rehearsed university revue than a musical, given the songs are parodies as opposed to original tunes, it has certainly found an audience in Australia and overseas and deserves the success it continues to have. 

“Most women know intuitively that every other woman is experiencing memory loss, night sweats, or hot flushes but when they are in a theatre with hundreds of women – not just a few sympathetic friends - and all are laughing and shouting ‘that’s me’ then they know what they are experiencing is normal. They aren’t crazy. It becomes a sisterhood.”
Jeanie Linders, Playwright

Menopause the Musical

Venue: Athenaeum Theatre | 188 Collins Street, Melbourne
Dates: Wednesday, November 5 - Sunday, November 9 2008
Tickets: Adult - $48, Concession $40, Groups (10+) $35
Bookings: Ticketmaster - or 1300 136 166

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