Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Stage

Review: ‘Menopause the Musical’ brings the heat to Show Palace in Hudson

For years, Show Palace Dinner Theatre patrons have begged owners Vicki and Tommy Marasciullo to bring Menopause the Musical to their Hudson venue. To be sure, the longtime showbiz couple wanted to, and the 400+ sold-out crowd opening night, followed by five sold out shows and many more before the May 20 closing date, shows why.

It’s just that getting performance rights has been well nigh impossible.

The show has been a top seller on the Las Vegas strip for 16 years, and it’s played nearly every large venue in the U.S., with tours in Spain, Mexico and the United Kingdom. Smaller venues didn’t have a chance when it came to getting performance rights for the popular musical comedy.

Then along came GFour Productions, a top Broadway production company whose shows (Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, revival of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Nine, etc.) have won 44 Tony Awards and 56 Drama Desk Awards.

GFour agreed to bring a ready-made Menopause the Musical to the Show Palace for a six-week run with four top-notch actors, a handsome set, music tracks and a whole lotta attitude.

The result had the opening night audience laughing and cheering throughout the 90-minute show.

That’s because of playwright Jeanie Linders’ book, with new, menopause-adapted lyrics set to familiar tunes — Stayin’ Alive becomes Stayin’ Awake, Tropical Heatwave becomes Having a Hot Flash.

That’s what Menopause the Musical is all about — a comical look at the challenges and complications facing women of a certain age going through menopause.

It’s a show that any woman who ever has, and any man who lived with a woman who has, can relate to. Because of its adult themes and insider jokes, the show would probably not appeal to young audiences.

Set in New York City’s Bloomingdale’s Department Store, it brings together four women shopping for a bargain.

They include the pencil-thin Soap Star (Sarah Hayes) who fears she is "aging out" of soap opera land; the hard-charging Professional Woman (Donna J. Huntley) who is fiercely independent; the 1960s hippie leftover Earth Mother (Donnalynn Waller), who just wants a good night’s sleep; and the bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed Iowa Housewife (Amy Glinskas), in town with her husband of 28 years for a funeral directors’ convention and just becoming aware of the variety that a sex life can include.

As the show starts, the four are fighting over the one large-sized bra on the bargain table and laughing at all the "size small" panties that seem to be the only other things left. They quickly bond when they realize they’re all going through "the change," and they start sharing grim stories of brain farts, mood changes, wrinkles, hot flashes, relationship-with-mother problems, and food cravings, especially for chocolate.

These are seriously talented women and a meticulously demanding production company and director, namely Tony Award winner Seth Greenleaf, so there’s nary a pause or glitch in the entire show. Kudos to Show Palace acting and music directing veteran Matty Colonna, who blended with the road show cast and crew at first meeting. Colonna times the tracks to suit the performers, but holds back when the audience wants to cheer something just a few moments more.

And cheer they did, for Ms. Glinskas’ adorably over-the-top physical humor, as she tries to wiggle her size Large body into a size Small-Petite teddy or holds a "high C" note for eye-popping moments. Or when Ms. Hayes kvetches about weight gain as she stands there in her Size 4 red sheath dress, earning glares from her plumper pals. Or when Ms. Waller moans about her lack of energy and falls over into a quick nap on a bench in the shoe department. Or when Ms. Huntley belts a rock or blues favorite gospel-style, head thrown back, her whole body shouting it out.

Menopause has dozens of fun moments and seems a lot shorter than its 90-minute duration. Business Manager Jennifer Cavaliere told me that even though there are nearly three dozen shows before the May 20 closing, they’re selling out quickly. If you want a good seat — or a seat at all — you’re advised to call the Show Palace box office soon.

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