Before the lights dimmed in the 500-seat theater for the Sunday matinee, I got a pretty good headcount from my vantage point at the back of the theatre. The main floor was sold out, and there were many audience members in the parts of the balcony that I could see. But what was more interesting was that I counted six men in attendance; the vast majority of seats were taken by middle-aged women.
So what so appealed to this group? “Menopause the Musical” (MTM), which follows a chance meeting at New York City’s Bloomingdale’s Department Store by four middle-aged women beset with all the changes that menopause can bring. The four women brought different perspectives – one was an Earth mother, while another was a soap opera star. The third woman was focused on her career, while the fourth person was a housewife visiting the big city from Iowa. The show, which was written by Jeanie Linders and first produced in 2001, has now been presented in 14 countries.
I attended the musical with my friend, Mara. We each were in stitches for most of the show. The show addresses hot flashes, weight gain, sex, mood swings, changing vision and other issues that women face in going through menopause. In addition, the show also addresses the challenge of aging in a culture that promotes youth as well as the challenge of being a member of the sandwich generation that has both children and elderly parents. And all of this takes place with songs that are well-known by the audience that are “tweaked” to focus on menopause, such as “Heat Wave,” “Stayin’ Alive,” “Puff, The Magic Dragon,” and “I Got You Babe.”
So what was our response? “Menopause the Musical is good medicine to dispel some of the worries about turning into an estrogen-starved crone post menopause,” Mara said. “From the first hot flash and first song to the last, I kept laughing and thinking, ‘This is so clever.’”
I appreciated that the show gave middle-age women a chance to bond, to laugh, and to realize they were not alone in facing these changes. Mara agreed, “It’s good for society that attitudes about health and wellness in older-age are losing the feebleness stereotypes. One thing women do well is share feelings and information and get each other to open up. Through music and discovered friendships—and shopping—MTM tells us that we can get through this and have a great attitude and a little black dress.”
“Women have a lot of emotions about menopause. I don’t per se care about the physical changes. Not worrying about birth control is a relief,” Mara said. Still, she felt there was one issue that some women face that wasn’t addressed in the musical. “It does force one into self-examination if you never had kids. Most of my menopause pain is from dredging up why I never took the plunge/had the nerve to have kids. Too late now, except for adoption and fostering. The musical didn’t address that but it would be hard to find a catchy song for that issue.”
Nevertheless, both Mara and I encourage women in menopause (or nearing menopause) to go see “Menopause, the Musical”. And be sure to take a friend (or a group of friends) along!
Published On: July 06, 2010