They’re back! Those record-shattering menopausal marvels are returning to Detroit’s Gem Theatre Feb. 13 for a limited run, and visiting with them during a recent rehearsal break proved why “Menopause The Musical” has been so popular in the Motor City.
“It’s really just girlfriends having a talk, and (the audience) just happens to be watching it,” explained Kim (“Soap Star”) Vanbiesbrouck, the only actress who has been with the show since its local premiere in March 2004.
And that’s true of the actresses themselves. Only minutes into the interview it becomes apparent that these women simply love working together. “I think we are entertained by one another,” Linda (“Professional Woman”) Boston said. “I actually enjoy watching Soap Star and Earth Mother and Iowa Housewife interact, and (then) react to their interaction. It’s play. They call it ‘play’ for a reason, don’t they?”
It has also been called “the ultimate girls’ night out,” since the vast majority of the 270,000 people who packed the Gem and Century Theatres during its historic 33-month, 1,025-performance run were women.
Explaining its appeal came easily to the actresses. “I think it hits close to home for a lot of people,” Boston said.
Especially because – like the characters in the play – many women in the audience had mothers who never spoke about menopause as they were growing up, Trudy (“Earth Woman”) Mason explained. “So consequently the women who come to see it have been feeling like they’re the only ones going through it.”
And the younger women come because they know it will eventually happen to them. “They want to see the lighter side of it,” Mason laughed.
What keeps the actresses excited about the show – each joined productions in other cities after the Detroit run closed in Dec. 2006 – is the response they get from the audience. “They give us so much in return,” said Stephanie (“Iowa Housewife”) Pascaris. “It doesn’t matter where we go, the women are so touched and they give us back so much energy.”
Plus, it never gets boring.
At one performance, a couple of women brought their mothers along – which was odd only because it was their deceased mothers’ ashes, urns and all. At another, a man took off his prosthetic leg and danced around the stage. “Remember the biker ladies?” asked understudy Satori Shakoor. And all five burst into laughter.
The show developed a large and enthusiastic following during its initial run, and the theater continued to get calls for tickets long after it closed. That’s the show’s testament, Vanbiesbrouck believes. “There aren’t many theatrical productions that people will pay full price again and again and again – 12, 14 times – and have a great time every time.”
“It’s like ‘Rocky Horror’ for the menopause set,” Shakoor joked.
One secret the actresses want revealed is this: Men love “Menopause The Musical,” too. “My husband has seen the show many, many times, and he tells all of his men friends that it’s the only time they’re going to be able to laugh at menopause, because living it is no fun,” Mason chuckled.
“Plus, they realize they’re not alone, either,” Pascaris added.
(FOR “REVIEW BOX”)
‘Menopause The Musical’
The Historic Gem Theatre, 333 Madison St., Detroit. Wed.-Sun., Feb. 13-April 6. Tickets: $39.95. For information: 313-963-9800 or http://www.gemtheatre.com