Story: Four women meet at Bloomingdale’s in New York City, initially strangers to each other who are jostling to pick up the best deals on merchandise. Quickly, though, they bond, even though they are four different types: a businesswoman, a soap opera star, an “earth mother” hippie type and a homemaker from Iowa.
As all of them are of a “certain age,” they establish an easy rapport as they discuss common topics including cravings for chocolate, hot flashes, sexual escapades, loss of memory and other happenings in their lives, as well as the change of life itself.
Throughout their adventures at Bloomingdale’s they describe their humorous reactions to predicaments in parodies written to the music of popular songs primarily from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s, eras most familiar to each of the ladies.
Highlights: A popular show at a previous incarnation of The Playhouse at Westport Plaza, Menopause the Musical returns hoping to recapture the magic that enabled it to enjoy an extensive run a decade or so ago. Reprising the cast from its 2006 production, Menopause the Musical is an easy-going, fun-loving romp that pokes fun at middle-aged women as well as the music that was part of their generation.
Other Info: The one-act, 90-minute musical is chockfull of recognizable tunes coupled with wry lyrics written by author Jeanie Linders, who gives each member of the cast a chance to shine while warbling amusing parodies of songs such as I Heard It Through the Grapevine, Stayin’ Alive, Heat Wave, The Lion Sleeps Tonight and many, many others.
For a lampoon of The Lion Sleeps Tonight, e.g., the cast (Laura Ackermann, Marty K. Casey, Lee Anne Mathews, Rosemary Watts) becomes an impromptu band playing a variety of novelty instruments as they bemoan their troubles getting a good night’s rest. As for the music itself, background accompaniment in recorded version is performed by Michael Dubay on keyboards, drummer Don Meoli and Jonathan Rem on bass.
The use of pleasurable devices is described amusingly to the tune of Good Vibrations, while hot flashes are the humorous spark for a take-off on the old standard, Heat Wave. Songs including Sign of the Times and Puff the Magic Dragon (Puff, My God, I’m Draggin’) also are spoofed entertainingly thanks to Linders’ clever lyrics and the comic delivery of the four performers.
Casey returns in her role as the “Professional Woman,” Ackermann is back as the “Earth Mother,” Mathews offers another turn as the “Soap Star” and Watts reprises her part as the “Iowa Housewife.” They enjoy an easy chemistry with each other that transfers to their performances, allowing an audience to benefit from their camaraderie as well as their vocal and comedic talents.
Judi Mann also is back as full understudy and dance captain for the quartet, introducing the show and getting patrons in a good mood with some amusing raffles while imparting the usual requests regarding mobile phones and recording devices.
The skits remain entertaining as far as they go, but Menopause the Musical can become diluted and a bit tired after too many viewings, or so was my reaction to this current version.
The simple but effective set is designed by Bud Clark, while the myriad outfits adorning the women are courtesy of costume designer Sue Hill. Ryan Patridge provides lighting and the sound design is by Steve Shapiro.
Seth Greenleaf directs in straightforward fashion, with choreography for some pleasing little dance numbers on the diminutive stage supervised by Daria Lynne Melendez. Alan J. Plado is responsible for music supervision and additional arrangements.
Menopause the Musical was a long-lasting hit at Westport back in 2006 and now it’s back for a run of slightly longer than a month this time around. If you enjoy ‘oldies’ from the LP era as well as the still vibrant and energetic performances of this cast, you’ll likely have a romp at Menopause the Musical.
Musical: Menopause the Musical
Company: Emery Entertainment/Jack Lane
Venue: The Playhouse at Westport Plaza
Dates: Through February 12
Tickets: $60; contact metrotix.com or 534-1111
Rating: A 3.5 on a scale of 1-to-5.