COURTESY HAWAII THEATRE
Monique Wittington, Nancy Slusser, Liz Hyde and Jan Roeton sing and dance about menopause in "Menopause the Musical."
Show has applause for menopause
Hot flashes, memory loss, mood swings, wrinkles, night sweats and eating binges are unlikely muses for song and dance and laughter. But writer/producer Jeanie Linders decided that coping with the sensitive theme demanded a big dose of humor when she created "Menopause the Musical." And people seem to be responding. Since it opened in Orlando, Fla., in 2001, the show's Web site notes that 10 million women in 12 countries have seen it.
"MENOPAUSE THE MUSICAL"
Place: Hawaii Theatre, 1130 Bethel St.
Time: Opens Tuesday, running 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays to Thursdays., 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 7 p.m. Sundays, plus 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday matinees; through April 20
Tickets: $35 and $45 (opening night $30)
Call: 528-0506 or visit www.newspaceentertainment.com/
Note: Opening night is a benefit for the Women's Cancer Center at Kapiolani Medical Center. Gala package costs $125 and includes VIP seating and a post-show party at Compadres Bar & Grill.
Dubbed "the hilarious celebration of women and the change," the musical is packed with 25 recognizable tunes from the 1960s and '70s, parodied with fresh lyrics related to a topic few people care to mention, much less snap their fingers to in a group setting.
But that's the point, according to actress Monique Wittington, who plays "the professional woman." "It's dealing with a subject that was hush-hush," Wittington said from her home in Chicago during a rare break in the nationwide tour. "And it brings it out to the forefront and helps women to feel good about the change and realize they're not alone."
The 40-year-old Wittington said she's navigating her own "change of life" and can relate to the issues presented in the show. She worked in elementary education for 15 years, performing only on weekends (sporadically in "Menopause" for the past three years). In December she took the risky step of becoming a full-time actress. "I was just not happy doing what I was doing. And I don't want to be 65 saying, 'I wish I'd tried it.'" When she finally made the decision, she recalled, "It seems like doors just started flying open."
Now she's visiting states like Alaska and Hawaii for the first time, adjusting to life on the road and dealing with the rigors of daily performances. The four women who meet randomly while shopping -- including Wittington, Liz Hyde as the Iowa housewife, Nancy Slusser as the soap star and Jan Roeton as the earth mother -- sing and dance through 25 songs in 90 minutes without an intermission. "And we're all 40 years-plus!" exclaimed Wittington.
But that, too, is part of the presentation. "We're everyday women on stage, not Rockette dance types," she said. "I think that empowers women as well, because you can see yourself up there."
While the audience typically is predominantly female, men can -- and do -- get something out of attending. "They get a better understanding and a better perspective," said Wittington. "And they can laugh about it, too."
Wittington's stint has allowed her to connect with people from all walks of life, the most rewarding aspect of her work. After the show, women tell her what a relief the entertainment provided from their daily struggles.
"That's what I love," said Wittington. "They're able to laugh and let go of all the issues they're dealing with, and they come out with a renewed attitude. It's not the 'silent passage' anymore. If you talk about it, I think that's empowering, too."