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Menopause the Musical
10/07/2007
The Edge
A PAUSE FOR MENOPAUSE
Four women undergoing The Change have the audience in stitches,
but their singing is serious stuff
By Anandhi Gopinath

After a heavy week of too many big nights, I was bushed by Sunday. And honestly, if I had not already promised a girlfriend that I'd watch Menopause The Musical with her, I would not have gone. So there I was on a Sunday afternoon settling into my seat at the Actors Studio in Bangsar Shopping Centre for the matinee show. The darkened stage before me had what looked like raunchy lingerie on a clothes rack, and just before the lights went on, the pre-show reminder told us most emphatically to keep our phones on vibrate!

Oh dear, I thought.

The opening scene immediately set the scene for the next 90 minutes of the show. Four pre-menopausal women – an out-of-work soap opera star, a former hippie, a corporate power mama and a simple housewife from Iowa (think Rose of the Golden Girls) – meet and make friends at Bloomingdale's in New York. As they go through their shopping, they sing, laugh and dance about their big change, laying bare ordinarily taboo topics like hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats, insomnia and reduced sex drive. Absolutely nothing is sacred, and no description is held back.

The tawdry tale is told via 21 cleverly rewritten songs from the Seventies and Eighties, the heyday of most women facing menopause today. Some were particularly funny – Night Fever was Night Sweating, Stayin' Alive morphed into Stayin' Awake, and I dare say Marvin Gaye turned in his grace when he "heard it through the grapevine, you're no longer 39".

There wasn't much of a spoken script – it was a musical after all – but when they did talk to each other, it was hilarious. An alternative definition of hormones got the audience shrieking with laughter, as did the constant reference to hot flushes and an ever-present need to, well, go.

The women had no names, with just stark characterisation setting them apart. Yet the similarities in their radically different lives bring them together, and are really the essence of the whole show. It's a sisterhood all women are a part of, and even at an absolutely devil-may-care 28, my friend and I could relate to everything they sang about. Even if it was nothing we could empathise with, it was something we'd heard our mothers complaining about often enough.

There were several highlights; without giving away too much, I can assure you there's no way you'll not get involved with the whole show. It takes a certain amount of detachment from reality to listen to four women sing about vibrators and find it funny, but it really is an evening of delightful, intelligently written satirical comedy, astoundingly good singing and an absolute barrel of laughs.

Certainly, the best Sunday afternoon I'd spent in a long time. And I can easily say it will be yours too.