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Paulanne Simmons

Making the Most of Menopause

"Menopause The Musical"
Directed by Kathleen Lindsey
Closing Open-Ended
Playhouse 91, 316 East 91st St., between First and Second avenues
Tues. thru Sat. 8 p.m., Wed. Sat. and Sun. 3 p.m.
$55, Ticketmaster (212) 307-4100 or (800) 755-4000
Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons July 13, 2004

L-R: Joy Lynn Matthews, Lyn Eldredge, Sally Ann Swarm, Megan Thomas. Photo by: Carol Rosegg

For women of a certain age, the very mention of the word "menopause" can cause an anxiety attack. At Playhouse 91, where "Menopause The Musical" is now onstage, the subject is the source of fits of laughter.

Written with wisecracking wit by Jeanie Linders, "Menopause The Musical" features 24 parodies of pop songs from the sixties and seventies, sung by four women who meet in the Bloomingdale's lingerie department - Power Woman (Joy Lynn Matthews), Soap Star (Sally Ann Swarm), Earth Mother (Lynn Eldredge) and Iowa Housewife (Megan Thomas).

The women sing and dance (think The Swim or The Jerk ) their way through the store's various departments (smart and sparing set design by Johnna Doty) in a revue that reviews all the ailments, conflicts and complaints that confront women once they've passed forty - anxiety, hot flashes, night sweats, apathetic sex partners, memory loss, confusion, their own aging mothers.

The trick is, with the help of Kathleen Lindsey's excellent direction, Patty Bender's sassy choreography and the spirited performances of these four talented women, "Menopause The Musical" is consistently upbeat and sidesplittingly funny.

The songs are ones we all remember, invested with a new meaning - "Good Vibrations," "Heat Wave," "Wishin' and Hopin'," "Lookin' for Love In All The Wrong Places," "Beauty Is Only Skin Deep." And the band - Corinne Aquilina on keyboard, Diana Herold on drums and Alden Terry on guitar - plays in a loose sixties style that keeps fingers snapping and toes tapping.

True, many of the jokes have been around since long before any of these women reached menopause. But a few stale gags do little to diminish the overall freshness of the show.

Although there are a few men (who may be in for a bit of good-natured teasing) in the audience for most performances, this is a "Ladies Night Out" that beats the hell out of mahjong. [Simmons]

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