Hot Flashes of Insight

The high-energy tale of ‘Menopause the Musical’ finds humor and heart in a rather taboo subject


Patti Gardner, second from left, and the other cast members of “Menopause the Musical” face the facts about getting older.

Patti Gardner has been going through menopause for a decade. OK, not really: Gardner has played the part of the Soap Star in “Menopause the Musical” off and on for 10 years, both on tour and in its long-running production in southern Florida. And life conspired to make her performance as realistic as possible.

“By the time I started doing the musical, I was right smack in the middle [of menopause],” she says. “So I sort of lived it onstage.”

The show brings together four archetypal female characters — the Power Woman, the Soap Star, the Iowa Housewife and the Earth Mother — all of whom meet while shopping for lingerie at Bloomingdale’s. There, through updated songs from the ’60s and ’70s (“Change, Change, Change” set to the tune of “Chain of Fools,” for example), they commiserate about everything the Change of Life brings.

“Misery loves company,” Gardner says. “[The show] brings together four women who could not be more different and they go on an emotional journey. Soap Star realizes there’s more to her than her looks, the Iowa Housewife starts out very naive and insecure, the Power Woman softens up. The Earth Mother is wise from the top of the show — she’s sort of the anchor.”

While the show does tend to attract mostly female audiences, Gardner often spots men in the crowd.

“It’s incredible to me how many men are dragged to the show, and somewhere around the third or fourth song, they’re right there with us,” she says. “It never ceases to amaze me.”

Stages of Life

If hormonal fluctuations can be made into a musical, these other turning points in a woman’s life can, too:

Training Bra! The Musical: A tween girl goes on a quest for the perfect A cup with her oh-so-embarrassing mother. The number “Can the Boys See My Straps?” will bring the house down.

Menstruation! The Musical: Singing such songs as “If I Don’t Get a Brownie, Someone’s Going to Die,” four women from various tampon commercials romp, play tennis and go to the beach during That Time of the Month.

Childbirth! The Musical: The Miracle of Life has never been so toe-tapping, thanks to such unforgettable songs as “[Expletive]! Get Me the [Expletive] Epidural, You [Expletive].”

Warner Theatre, 513 13th St. NW; Thu.-Sun., $24.75-$55; 202-783-4000. (Metro Center)
Kristen Page-Kirby covers film for The Washington Post Express.
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