Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

November 6, 2008

Menopause the Musical

City Stage, Springfield
through November 16
By Karolina Sadowicz

“Menopause the Musical” might not sound inviting to most men, but it’s a hilarious musical romp that will make anyone laugh.

Set inside Bloomingdale’s, the show begins with four very different women caught up in one lingerie sale, discussing some of the small inconveniences and larger indignities of “The Change.” Relying on a score of well-known songs from the 60s, 70s, and 80s, “Menopause” brings new words to old tunes and muses on what the change means for women. The show’s opening number “Change of Life” is set to Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools.” Though all the song reinventions are clever, the reluctant workout anthem “Puff, my God, I’m Draggin” had the audience in stitches. Whether it’s hot flashes, insomnia, libido, overeating, or antidepressants, the songs explore all the trials of menopause and aging with wit and self-deprecation, encouraging women in the audience to relate rather than feel embarrassed.

A professional woman played with attitude by Fredena Williams leads the ensemble in vocalizing symptoms and changes through music and humor. Williams is a standout singer who claims some of the show’s highest peaks. She is accompanied by the lithe Licia Watson, playing a vain but charming, aging soap, a hilariously dazed Pammie O’Bannon –as a hippie mom, and disarmingly earnest Sandy Dewoody as a wide-eyed Iowa housewife.

These four keep a lively pace through dance numbera that are equal parts sass, goofy miming, and unabashed hip shake. Minimal set changes swiftly and seamlessly take the ladies and audience to different floors and departments in the store, with the cast changing into silky pajamas for “Good Vibrations” – now a song about self-love - and into slinky black numbers for the show’s finale. The cast excel in singing and dancing together or solo, and make the most of ample opportunities for physical humor.

Making its fourth return to City Stage, “Menopause” is a fun and empowering musical for women of all ages and life stages, and a hilarious, eye-opening ride for everyone else.