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 The Theatreguide.London Review

Menopause - The Musical
Shaw Theatre Summer 2007

Four women of A Certain Age sing, joke and moan about The Change, and an audience that is at least 98% female and largely of A Certain Maturity has a grand old time.

And, to tell the truth, as one of perhaps a dozen men in the audience, I couldn't help enjoying it as well.

Jeanie Linders' musical comedy, which has been a hit almost everywhere else in the English-speaking world, finally reaches London in a polished, high-energy production that should run as long as waves of women continue to age disgracefully.

The four performers are introduced as archetypes - the harried businesswoman (Miquel Brown), fading starlet (Samantha Hughes), former hippie (Amanda Symonds) and provincial housewife (Su Pollard). But the characterisations are all-but-dropped pretty quickly, as each of the four takes a turn in a rotation of singing Linders' topical new lyrics to pop classics, with the other three rotating into back-up singers.

And so we get laughter and howl-of-recognition inducing lyrics like these (I'm sure you can supply the melodies):

'I heard it through the grapevine/You'll no longer see thirty-nine.'

'In the guest room or on the sofa/ My husband sleeps tonight.'

'I'm having a hot flash, a tropical hot flash.'

'I wish we all could be sane and normal girls.'

'Thank you, doctor. Thank, thank you, doctor.'

'No matter what I eat/ There's always cellulite on/ My thighs.'

You get the idea. The between-song bits and jokes are fairly lame ('The last personal trainer I had - I had'), but they're brief and soon give way to another rousing song.

The (all-male) backing band rocks, director Michael Larsen keeps the energy level high, choreographer Patty Bender wittily alludes to the Motown style of back-up singer syncopation, and everyone stays pretty much in step most of the time.

This isn't Hamlet, but short of a male strip club I can't think of a more foolproof Good Night Out for the girls, and one that the occasional male dragged along will enjoy too.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review - Menopause the Musical - Shaw 2007