Left – Caroline Gilmore.Photo – Deb Mayes
Eleven years after its initial limited season run extended to a six-month stay in Melbourne, Menopause the Musical has returned to the city in a vibrant array of double entendre’s and cheeky characters. The book and lyrics by Jeanie Linders opened in Florida in 2001 and has been seen by more than 11 million audience members since its inception.
The latest incarnation, Menopause the Musical – Women on Fire, is a revamped production with choreography by Australian dance royalty Tony Bartuccio and Trish Squire.
Bartuccio also directed the quirky production about four menopausal women (Caroline Gilmore, Donna Lee, Jackie Love and Megan Shapcott) who meet at a lingerie sale and swap stories about the trials of “the change”. An upbeat soundtrack keeps the audience tapping their toes and the slick vocals of the cast keep the show rolling through some of the more cringe-worthy moments.
Gilmore as “The professional” is the clear star of the show. A warm and engaging actress, she acts as both the anchor and captain of the production, steering the narrative toward each hilarious outcome and wowing the audience with her powerhouse vocals (as evidenced in her rendition of Tina Turner’s, “What’s Love Got To Do With It?")
Donna Lee is a breath of fresh air on stage, she plays the Dubbo housewife without a trace of judgment, and as such the audience love her all the more for it. Lee’s hysterical attempt to squeeze herself into a sexy red one piece is one of the highlights of the show.
Menopause the Musical has a very specific target audience and I have to admit some of the jokes (thankfully!) went over my head. However it is an absolute ball from start to finish, pun after pun, and backed by a baby-boomers era soundtrack. Finishing the show on a high, the audience is invited onstage to dance along with the stellar cast to “We Are Family” in a final fourth wall-breaking move.
While I would have liked to see more diversity on the stage to reflect the many types of women in Australia, the all blonde cast could be construed as alienating to other non-Caucasian Australian women.
This aside, Bartuccio has brought back a crowd favourite in Menopause the Musical – Women on Fire!, in this high energy show that is sure to get a giggle out of the most moody of ladies. Be quick to grab tickets to this one, the Melbourne season closes on the 6th of August before touring nationally.
Menopause the Musical – Women on Fire
Director Tony Bartuccio
Venue: Athenaeum Theatre, Collins Street, Melbourne
Dates: 16 July – 6 August 2016