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Theater review: Laughs all night long with ‘Menopause The Musical’

"I may know zip about menopause, but I rewrote the lyrics to 'The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde' to impress Michelle Rene Ellis in the seventh grade (it did not)," reviewer Lawrance Bernabo says.

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DULUTH — I have to tell you, when I showed up at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center by myself Tuesday night to attend “Menopause The Musical,” I was getting a lot of looks. I was not the only man there — I saw at least five others — but I was the only one who was there without a date.

“Menopause The Musical” has lyrics and a book by Jeanie Linders, whose lyrics riff on the nature of menopause to popular music from the baby boomer era. “Chain, Chain, Chain” because “Change, Change, Change (of Life).” “California Girls”/“Help Me Rhonda” becomes “Sane and Normal Girls”/“Thank You Doctor.”

This becomes my link to this show. I may know zip about menopause, but I rewrote the lyrics to “The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde” to impress Michelle Rene Ellis in the seventh grade (it did not). I love “Weird Al” Yankovic and will waste time making up parody lyrics off some random comment on Facebook. So, I have the style element of this show down.

Therefore, here is “Mansplaining The Review” of “Menopause The Musical.”

The setting is Bloomingdale’s in New York City, with an art deco set of four doors, where four women are fighting over lingerie. Each is a recognizable archetype: Donna J. Huntley is the Professional Woman, Adrianne Hick the Soap Star, Valerie Fagan the Earth Mother, and Teri Adams the Iowa Housewife.

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These are performances honed to perfection. I scribbled a note about “Four Queens,” but by the end of the night it was clear “Menopause” was showing a hand of nothing but aces.

Some songs gets their biggest laughs on the opening lines, which Fagan did with both “Drippin’ and Droppin’” and “Puff, My God, I’m Draggin.’” Songs like “Sign of the Times” are able to land punches throughout the entire song. Then add songs like “My Husband Sleeps Tonight,” where the lyrics are a bonus to just listening to the ladies harmonize.

While I was smiling at the cleverness of the lyrics, the other 99% of the audience were howling at all the jokes. “Menopause” is a 100-minute stand-up act set to music, with fun choreography (“Stayin’ Awake/Night Sweatin’”) and a lot of very funny visual humor.

Huntley’s best moment actually comes in her reprise of “I’m Flashing,” which was a great “Sing, girl!” moment. Hick likewise ups the ante on her reprise of “Hot Flash,” especially when she started working the audience.

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Then there is a key transitional moment when the ladies get phone calls from their mothers, which sets up “I’m No Babe, Ma,” offering a pair of funny-looking Sonny & Cher's, but then ends pulling on the heart strings.

After that point, the last third of the show takes “Menopause” to the next level, starting with the three girl group songs that gives us Huntley with “The Fat Gram Song” (“It’s In His Kiss”), Adams singing “My Thighs,” and Hick doing “Don’t Say Nothing Bad About My Body.”

That is nothing compared to the epic sequence that starts with Adams trying to wrestle a black piece of intimate apparel into something she can actually wear in an attempt to rekindle her love life with her husband.

The next thing we know, Hick and Fagan are singing “Good Vibrations,” and if you do not know what the song is now about in this show, just think it through for a moment. This leads to Huntley in full Tina Turner wig and dress singing, “What’s Love Got To Do With it?”

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All of that turns out to be only a prelude to Adams singing “Only You” to a, um, pink wand (Can I say that in a public newspaper?). The start of that song was hysterical, but that was nothing compared to the final verse, which Adams belts out of the park Aaron Judge-style and brings down the house. Talk about picking a moment to whip out the big voice.

I also appreciated that for the big finish, they did Patti LaBelle’s “New Attitude” straight, to put the exclamation mark on the evening of laughter.

I think the Twin Ports audience broke down slightly more towards “preview of coming attractions” over “been there, done that.” What was clear that they thoroughly enjoyed the show, which ended with “Y.M.C.A.” being turned into “This Is Your Day,” complete with audience participation by section.

The auditorium was at least half-full. But think how many people could have been there if most of them had brought dates.

Lawrance Bernabo is a theater and arts reviewer for the Duluth News Tribune.

Related Topics: THEATERDULUTH
Lawrance Bernabo is a theater and arts reviewer for the Duluth News Tribune.
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