The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

September 18, 2011

Side-splitting humor | 'Menopause the Musical' onstage at Pasquerilla arts center


— The Change will lead to a modification to an area arts center’s schedule.

“Menopause the Musical” will bring hot flashes, mood swings and cravings for chocolate to Johnstown at 3 and 7:30 p.m. Oct. 1 and 2 p.m. Oct. 2 at Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, Richland Township.

For the first time, a Mainstage show at the arts center will run more than once.

“I talked with the producers, and they offered to do it three times, and we were available,” said arts center executive director Michael Bodolosky.

 “This is something new and different.”

Bodolosky chose the show because arts center patrons have asked for Broadway productions in general, and friends who have seen “Menopause the Musical” requested him to show it in Johnstown.

“There were some ladies who saw it, and I looked at snippets of it,” Bodolosky said.

“I think it creates a healthy, funny dialogue and gives a unique twist to awareness.

“Men can laugh at it, too.”

The show centers on four women with seemingly nothing in common who meet at Bloomingdale’s department store during a lingerie sale.

The all-female cast makes fun of their hot flashes, forgetfulness, mood swings, wrinkles, night sweats and chocolate binges through singing parodies from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, and a sisterhood is born.

“Stayin’ Alive” becomes “Stayin’ Awake,” “My Girl” becomes “My Thighs,” “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” becomes “My Husband Sleeps at Night” and “Puff the Magic Dragon” becomes “Puff, My God I’m Draggin.’ ”

The characters include Soap Star, Professional Woman, Iowa Housewife and Earth Mother.

The show, written by Jeanie Linders, was first performed in March 2001 and is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

“Most women know intuitively that every other woman is experiencing hot flashes or night sweats,” said Linders.

“There is always a close friend or two who can sympathize or identify with her, but when they are sitting in a theater with hundreds of other women, all laughing and shouting, ‘That’s me! That’s me on stage!’ They know what they are experiencing is normal. They aren’t alone or crazy. It becomes a sisterhood.”

Producer Kathi Glist, who has been with the show for nine out of its 10 years, believes she has grown up with the show and said she has gone through menopause herself during her tenure.

She said it isn’t unusual for the show to be performed more than once in one venue.

“We do it different ways,” she said.

“In Las Vegas, we have an open-ended run, and in smaller venues, we have a limited run of two weeks to six months. On this national tour, it depends on the size of the venue and the demand.”

Weekend shows are usually best sellers because working women have a chance to attend.

Those who want others to see the show usually bring them back themselves.

“It’s become a minimovement,” Glist said.

“Those who have seen it more than once don’t want to send someone to see it, they want to bring them. Usually they’ll see it on Broadway, then the national tour.”

Women in the audience readily break down the fourth wall of theater as they bond with the women onstage, even finishing their lines for them.

“I’ve seen it thousands of times, and I never tire of it,” Glist said.

“I still laugh. I love to watch the audience. Laughter is healing. It’s humor-replacement therapy instead of hormone- replacement therapy.

“My favorite thing to do is watch the people come in with the weight of the world on their shoulders, then walk out smiling and with a skip in their step. They feel better than when they came in.”

Those who come to the show expecting entertainment will find side-splitting humor, but they also will find enlightenment and enrichment as they discover they aren’t alone.

“This is a turning point in their lives, and we want the show to be a vehicle that shows the positive side,” Glist said.

“The best of their life is ahead. They’ve been slammed with a major change and how they handle it will define the rest of their lives.”

Critics have said the musical is far-fetched because strangers don’t become best friends, but Glist knows that women share more readily.

Just as the four characters in the musical meet as strangers and become friends, women in the audience become acquainted and talk after the show.

“They hang out in the lobby and talk about it,” Glist said.

“The show gives them that freedom. Sometimes the venue has to tell them to go home.”

Men who come to see the show are in a definite minority in the audience, but they are the first to stand and laugh, Glist said.

“It’s educational for them,” she added.

“They say, ‘Now I get it.’ One man said this should be a mandatory workshop for all men.”

Since opening in Orlando, Fla., the show’s light-hearted look at menopause has entertained and inspired women of all ages and stages from coast-to-coast and internationally.

“It’s not Shakespeare, but it’s its own very special entity,” Glist said.

“I promise you a great time.

“It’s very relatable.”

“Menopause the Musical” supports the Jeanie C. Linders Fund and its various programs such as “There’s No Place Like Home National,” which provides shelter to women and families who have lost their homes to natural and catastrophic disasters.

Broadway show

What: “Menopause the Musical.”

When: 3 and 7:30 p.m. Oct. 1 and 2 p.m. Oct. 2.

Where: Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, Richland Township.

Tickets: $45 and $40.

Information: 269-7200, (800) 846-2787 or www.upjartsorg.


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