Friday, March 6, 2015

reviews - MENOPAUSE, THE MUSICAL - The Palms Theatre

For more information on this production that runs through March 28th, click here.

"Writer Jeanie Linders tapped into a market with a subject rarely touched by comedy theatre; the menopausal woman.  She created four different types – the Iowa Housewife, the Earth Mother, the Actress (or Soap Star) and the Power Woman, now often referred to as the Professional Woman. – and had them meet at Bloomingdale’s where they shop, share stories of wrinkles, mood swings, the problem of hot flashes and night sweats, and sing the melodies of well-known pop tunes but with new, comical lyrics. Some are funny, some merely okay, and that’s the problem with Menopause, the Musical  in general; it’s only okay; the humor is mild and obvious and the new lyrics, as amusing as some of them can be, have the quality of something you might ad-lib on the spot after a few drinks while socializing with friends and you’re in a giggly mood.  But at this stage, fourteen hugely successful years later, critiquing Linders’ work is now hardly the point.  As with all regional productions once you pass the source material, what’s important here is what the local theatre does with the show, and Palms has cast four talented and immensely likable ladies as the new friends on a shopping spree in New York.  Each one rises to the occasion with sass, energy, and collectively, four great voices.  The ninety minute show is really more of a comedy revue without an intermission where each level at the department store brings new products to inspect, new songs to parody and new menopausal problems to share, not to mention several quick trips to the bathroom complete with flushing sound effects and a few other suspicious noises.  Standout moments are Thomas’ Iowa housewife’s attempt to wear a teeny black teddy from the sexy lingerie department, a garment that hardly covers her left boob let alone the rest of her middle-aged torso, plus Walker’s hippie Earth Mother’s inability to complete the sentence, “I remember the sixties…”  She pauses because she can’t.  Now, that’s funny. The heavy, synthesized music sounds pre-recorded, which seems odd for a theatre with a forum this size – live is always better – but at least it’s tight, it keeps the show’s musical sequences in check and the theatre’s sound system projects the recordings with clarity.  That doesn’t make it okay – at this level, live should be mandatory – but it doesn’t spoil things, either. Again, the theatre cynic may bulk at the karaoke approach, but at least the singing is first class and those ladies know how to deliver a song.  True, the majority seated around me consisted of large groups of ladies of advancing years, but from the continuous laughter throughout and the thunderous applause, they were clearly having a ball. Whatever you may think of Linders’ mediocre script, Menopause, the Musical  knows what it’s doing, and in this case, so does The Palms Theatre." -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)

"You have to hand it to Jeanie Linders. Her 2001 show Menopause, the Musical struck a chord when it first premiered and has gone on to countless productions across the globe ever since. While I'm hardly in the target audience, and Linders' simple lyrics that are shoehorned in to popular songs from the '60s to the '80s aren't exactly Sondheim, I have to admit that the show is a fun, joyful experience. And the overall message of empowerment and owning up to what life deals you is something both women and men can relate to. The show has come to the Palms Theatre for a month long run. Linders' idea to use popular songs with rewritten lyrics is a good one, since familiarity of the music turns them into toe tappers. She turns "Chain of Fools" into "Change of Life," and "Heat Wave" into "Hot Flash." "Stayin' Alive" becomes "Stayin' Awake" and "Night Fever" is now "Night Sweatin'." While none of her lyrics are completely memorable, there are some humorous ones and none are ever cringe worthy. The Palms' winning cast also go a long way in creating characters that are identifiable. Some highlights: Professional Woman Whitney Hayes has a sassy belt and does a fun Tina Turner impression; Iowa Housewife Eleonore Thomas has a charming disposition and a hilarious time trying to put on some very small lingerie; Earth Mother Donnalynn Maggio's constant attempt to use meditation to ward off her mood swings is only matched by her attempt to read a menu, moving it further and further away from her face; and Soap Star Alison Nusbaum has a sultry, sexy "Hot Flash" moment with an audience member.  The four ladies appear to be having a blast singing and talking about their problems. They poke fun at themselves while also talking about problems such as hot flashes, weight gain, hot flashes, the use of medication to relieve their problems, and hot flashes. Yeah, these ladies have a lot of hot flashes, which gets a little old before the show is over. That is probably the one major complaint—there is a lot of repetitiveness in the material. Still, with four winning performances and clear and straightforward direction, you kinda just roll with it, sit back and laugh and smile at the fun the ladies are having. While women over 40 will probably enjoy it more than others, with a cast of four very strong performers, the Palms Theatre production of the show is a charming, fun and overall winning good time." -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

Photo: Mike Benedetto / Palms Theatre

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