It’s messy. It’s exhausting. It’s a pain in the butt.
That’s right, it’s menopause.
“Menopause The Musical” jubilantly tapped its toes into the Christopher Cohan Performing Arts Center (PAC) Tuesday evening, stirring laughter among the majority female audience. The crowd of senior women could barely contain its laughter as the production hit the nail on the head in depicting the notorious symptoms of menopause — including mood swings, hot flashes and memory loss.
A backdrop with four golden doors and ornate wallpaper set the stage as the four women came together in a department store to meet for the first time. In the bra section, Megan Cavangh as Earth Mother, goes through each size, sighing, “small, small, too small,” stirring the first of many rounds of laughter in the audience.
The four women bonded over the struggles of the inevitable phase, singing about the hormonal changes and erratic behavior accompanied with menopause.
“It gives the audience an oversight of issues women go through, the crying, the yelling, the ‘I hate you’ one minute and ‘I love you’ the next,” audience member Leili McPherson said.
While there was no specific plot for this musical, the order of the scenes moved in such a way that every time the lights went out, new furniture would be set up to portray a new environment, and with it, new attire.
According to audience member Donna Klein, “the costumes had tremendous variety.” Klein described the outfits as “attractive and flashy,” from the floral printed dresses to satin and silk pajamas to elegant black dresses.
The costumes were not the only thing that caught the audience’s eye. The scene that featured the Iowa Housewife/Dance Captain, played by Teri Adams, trying to squeeze into a tiny piece of lacey black lingerie was the funniest moment for many in the auditorium. Playing on the challenge to squeeze sagging breasts that are accompanied with menopause, the Housewife’s attempt to slip into the itsy bitsy piece of lingerie made the audience roar with laughter.
“It was hilarious,” audience member Dawn Ruda said.
Another scene that ignited laughter occurred when all the women admit to taking a pill to control their hormones.
“Okay, it’s Prozac,” the Iowa Housewife said. Her confession was instantly followed by the other three women shelling out their capsules and joining in to sing a parody of the Beach Boy’s “Help Me Rhonda,” replacing ‘Rhonda’ with ‘doctor,’ to thank him for the pills to control their ever-changing hormones.
“It was so relatable,” McPherson said. “The pills — I already said I’m calling my doctor to see which pill I should be taking.”
Other audience members agreed that the musical was relevant to their experience with menopause.
“It was so real,” Annette Fields said. “I’ve been through it all. The way they presented it was just right.”
However, audience members who haven’t experienced the symptoms laughed in fear of what is to come.
“The only thing I didn’t like about it (the musical) was the fact that I have to go through it,” Ruda said.
Meanwhile, male audience members were relieved they never have to endure these pains.
“It was pretty crazy,” audience member Dean Kemp said, who attended the musical with his wife, Fields. “I’m glad I’m not a woman.”
Throughout the musical, many of the songs kept in touch with the hits of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. The singing quartet of women sang parodies of these time periods, altering the lyrics to convey topics like older women’s replacement by younger “chicks” in the workplace — depicted in the parody of Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” when the lyrics became, “not much longer is the job mine.”
While the women sang about topics that made them feel as if they lost purpose in the workplace during menopause, they kept their chins up, twirling and tapping their feet, rattling the stage with their exuberant personalities with songs like “Sign of the Times,” which encouraged the women to love what they see in the mirror at this age.
“If you’re over 60, this is what your wife will tell you to see,” said Jim McPherson, who attended the event with his wife McPherson. McPherson, on the other hand, recommended the show to girls as young as 17 and 18.
“It’s a good eye opener for them, I think it’d be great for them to see,” she said.
Other audience members said that “Menopause the Musical” would be a great experience for other women who have not yet gone through menopause.
“I wish I had my daughter and my granddaughter here,” McPherson said.
The actresses performed the symptoms of menopause so spot-on that McPherson said the musical would not only make for a great bonding time between the three, but also allow the younger women to understand their mother and grandmother.
While the musical brought together a lively group of females who could all relate to the aches, the pains, the moody roller coaster ride and the constant need to use the restroom, it also addressed the larger meaning of what it means to be a woman, and took pride in those struggles of aging by celebrating them in song and dance.