The Alabama Shakespeare Festival's sold-out opening night audience's reaction to Menopause The Musical (2001), in its third iteration at ASF, was raucous and infectious, frequently drowning out both dialogue and lyrics of the play's 25 song parodies.
Essentially a one-joke sketch about women going through "the Change", the theme is stretched out over 90 minutes playing time. This GFour Production, with book and lyrics by Jeanie Linders, contrives a plot that brings together four disparate women on a shopping spree at Bloomingdale's where they bond over such free-ranging topics as chocolate cravings, mood swings, failing eyesight, memory lapses, Prozac, night sweats, weight gain, facelifts, hot flashes, lingerie, and sex toys. Familiar territory.
Director Seth Greenleaf's cast -- Teri Adams [an Iowa Housewife], Patti Gardner [a Soap Star], Donna J. Huntley [a Professional Woman], Liz Hyde [Earth Mother] -- seemed a bit tentative at first, but soon adjusted to the audience's enthusiasm. They delivered the script's hokey dialogue and cheesy punchlines with a lot of winks that conscript the predominantly female audience's recognition and approval.
The songs in Menopause The Musical are parodies of largely 1960s popular songs, "Staying Awake" and "Puff, my God I'm Draggin'" among the ones that tickled Saturday's ASF crowd. -- Unfortunately, the sound balance made hearing the actors' words difficult: an overly loud soundtrack with a dominant bass line rendered many of the words incomprehensible, and the women's fine singing voices all but disappeared except in the quieter and solo moments.
Kudos to the four women on stage for their ability to engage through their individual character's personality, and with even the least clever lyrics. We grow to like them and anticipate each one's quirky take on the subject matter.
Saving perhaps the best till last, parodies of "What's Love Got to Do With It" and "Only You" lead to the inevitable transformation of these four delightful characters into a strong unit who can celebrate with us their making it through "the Change".