If you’re thinking about going to see Circa ‘21’s “Menopause: The Musical,” or if you’ve already bought tickets to it, you’re definitely going to enjoy it.

“Menopause” knows its audience, very well, and has done an excellent job at satisfying that audience. On the opening weekend night I saw the show, the crowd was pretty much filled with middle-aged and above women, with a few middle-aged men as well, and they loved it. I mean LOVED it. They laughed uproariously, they hooted and hollered at some of the jokes and jibes and at the end of the night they quickly rose to give it a standing ovation.

I, on the other hand, well . . .  I’m not the audience for “Menopause: The Musical.”

There are times as a critic where you just have to recognize that you are not the core demographic for a show. At those times, you have to review the show in three ways – you have to recognize it for who it’s for and analyze whether or not that audience will like it, you have to objectively look at its execution for what it is, and you have to honestly give your opinion of how you feel about it.

menopause the musical

I started with the first, and that’s my most positive commentary on the show. It’s called “Menopause: The Musical,” for cripes sake, it’s not geared towards me. I’m currently writing a Tarantino-esque novel about time lords, ninja wizards and the end of the world. I’m nowhere really near its key demo any more than I’m the key demo for “My Little Pony: Live” or a Jeff Foxworthy show. It ain’t me, babe, no no no, it ain’t me. Who it is aiming directly at are women who can relate to the material and the men who love them. And as I said, man, did it please that crew in spades. Most of the audience was made up of tables full of ladies enjoying adult beverages and laughing hysterically at the jokes, and to be honest, that’s all great. I’m not going to put something down if it makes someone else laugh in as innocuous and broad a fashion as this musical. Like I said, if you’re looking at this show and thinking of going, do it! You will definitely enjoy it. It is a perfect ladies’ night out musical, as long as you are ladies over the age of 40 or so. And I don’t mean that in a sexist or ageist way, I mean it because it’s about freaking menopause for cripes sake!

As for execution, the show is pleasantly performed and well done. The set, ostensibly various floors of a department store, is beautiful in a “Great Gatsby” film sort of way, so kudos to designer Bud Clark. The musical backup sounds terrific, so, again, kudos to sound designer Andrew Zaplitny. The characters are wafer thin to the point of barely being caricatures, to the point where they don’t even have names, merely bland descriptions, but the actresses do what they can with the material and do it well, and their hijinks, particularly on the physical comedy side, definitely pleased the crowd.

The show begins with a panty fight between two women, which is nowhere near as exciting as that sentence makes it seem. Four women – Professional Woman (Whitney Hayes), Soap Star (Sarah Hayes), Earth Mother (Megan Opalinski) and Iowa Housewife (Donna Lynn Waller) have converged upon a large display of underwear during a department store sale. For some inexplicable reason, short and curvy Iowa Housewife and tall and skinny Soap Star are fighting over the same bra, which is then snapped up by Professional Woman, who is bustier than both of them combined. Why these three women are fighting over the same bra, which could never in a million years fit all three of them, is completely beyond me, but it’s the unnecessary plot construct that grinds loudly to get them to all interact with one another and begin throwing panties at each other, because, well, how else are four adult women supposed to bond with one another???

Small talk about lingerie styles? Conversation about the way underwear fits? Please.

At any rate, that gets things going, and from there it’s a pretty standard setup of fairly broad, light and cutesy musical parodies broken up with fairly broad, light and cutesy expository dialogue about the physical and emotional changes of menopause.

Most of them about sweating.

Seriously. I never realized there could be so many potential songs or dialogue bits about sweating and hot flashes. I lost count. I mean, really? It’s not so much beating a dead horse as it is whipping it down to a paste and turning it into glue. Sweaty glue.

And there, about 15-20 minutes in, is where “Menopause: The Musical,” really just lost me. Like I said, it’s not like it was too difficult, because this really is not written for me, I am pretty darn far from the target audience. But it wasn’t just that, it was that it didn’t go any deeper, it was just so repetitious and shallow. I did get a few laughs when it went risqué towards the end, but otherwise I was pretty much  . . . meh.

But, again, to be fair, this show is not geared towards me. If you tend to like the shows I usually do, you probably won’t like it much either. On the other hand, if you are a woman of a certain age who has gone through this change, and you’re down for a lot of jokes about sweating, sweating, sweating, hot flashes, forgetting things, family dynamics and sex, then you will really enjoy it. The crowd there opening weekend loved it. Seriously. Standing ovation. So follow my advice – if you’re thinking it might be the show for you, it probably is, if you’re thinking it isn’t, you’re also right.

“Menopause: The Musical,” running through Aug. 27.
Circa ’21, 1828 3RD Ave., Rock Island
Wednesday, Friday, and Saturdays evenings at 7:45 p.m., Sundays at 5:45 p.m., and Wednesday matinées at 1:30 p.m.
Ticket prices are $50.16 for the evening dinner-and-show productions and $44.41 for the plated-lunch matinées.
For reservations, call (309)786-7733 ext. 2 or go to www.circa21.com.

‘Menopause: The Musical’ A Huge Hit With Its Audience
Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written over 50 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.
‘Menopause: The Musical’ A Huge Hit With Its Audience

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