Whoever said there are few roles available for women of a certain age should check out the exhilarating summer production at the Laguna Playhouse.
“Menopause, the Musical” not only involves ladies in the midst of “the change,” but celebrates them.
It’s a high-flying, high-kicking and high-temperature tribute to women in the throes of hot flashes, energy shortage, memory loss and other such rewards awaiting those females who survive past life’s half-century mark.
Creator Jeanie Linders took a page from the “Forbidden Broadway” book in fashioning “Menopause.” She selected a litany of pop songs, mostly from the 1960s, and messed with their lyrics to come up with the show’s catchy score.
Patty Bender, who both directed and choreographed the production, has made liberal use of the talents of her four actresses, both in solo arrangements and in well-drilled backup segments. If these gals are past their prime, then their prime must have been dynamite.
The triple threat singers/ dancers/actresses are billed generically as the Soap Star (Juliet Hicks), the Earth Mother (Roberta Wall), the Iowa Housewife (Marsha Waterbury) and the Professional Woman (Fredena J. Williams).
They convene at a Bloomingdale’s department store in New York and find they have quite a bit in common.
For one thing, they’re all immensely talented with world-class voices (Williams’ is galaxy class) and they take particular delight in sharing the trauma that accompanies middle age with each other and the audience.
The flirtatious Hicks even makes a comical play for a fellow in the front row.
Linders’ re-imagined lyrics hit the mark on most occasions. The disco anthem “Stayin’ Alive” becomes “Stayin’ Awake,” about women’s sleepless nights. “Don’t Make Me Over” is flipped to “Please Make Me Over,” a hymn to cosmetic enhancement.
And you’ll never guess what the gals make of “Only You” (it’s a companion number to “Good Vibrations”).
There’s enough spotlight for all four ladies, and each takes full advantage when it shifts her way.
They use their surface identities to access a trunk full of symptoms triggered by the wrath of the aging process.
Williams’ Tina Turner tribute is particularly inventive, while Hicks’ “Heat Wave” simply sizzles.
Backed by an offstage three-piece combo under the baton of John Randall, “Menopause, the Musical” hits repeated high notes as Bender’s queenly quartet tears up the house.
Bud Clark’s colorful setting and Jean-Yves Tessier’s sparkling lighting designs provide particular emphasis.
While it may be true that the ladies will garner more entertainment from this particular package of fun, there are plenty of guffaws for the guys as well.
“Menopause” has never been quite so enjoyable.