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Review - Menopause the Musical – Women on Fire! A vibrant journey

Menopause the Musical – Women on Fire!

Directed and choreographed by Tony Bartuccio

Twelfth Night Theatre

Cintra Road

Bowen Hills

Season: 17 May to 12 June. Bookings: or 136 100 or 07 3252 5122

Menopause the Musical – Women on Fire is a vibrant hour and a half journey with four awesome women dealing with the ‘change of life’.

The Women on Fire are Caroline Gillmer (the Power Woman); Lena Cruz (the Earth Mother; Donna Lee (the Dubbo Housewife); and Jackie Love (the Soap Star).The four meet at a lingerie sale and are soon swapping stories of their daily challenges and dramas.

Being ‘on fire’ is usually a phrase used about someone who is at the top of their game, however in this musical it has a completely different connotation, as the plethora of songs from the 1960’s to the 1980’s with substituted lyrics soon enlightens the audience. The main theme being ‘heat’ – and lots of it when nature throws a curve ball called menopause.

The resulting symptoms of the change of life are experienced to varying degrees, but this musical has taken them to comedic heights, with side-splittingly hilarious results.

Nothing is taboo – the hot flushes, night sweats, memory loss, insomnia, weight gain, loss of bladder control, baggy arms, saggy butts, mood swings, too much sex, not enough sex – everything gets an airing. And then there are the pills to combat it all!

Caroline Gillmer as the Power Woman was excellent and was also in the original Menopause. She was the working woman in the power pants suit and her song I’m the Great Pretender was very funny – about how to cope with memory loss while at work. Another of her scenes where she sings about flushes and constantly leaking sweat like a sieve, while stuffing sanitary pads under her arms and into her bra to mop up the excess was absolutely hilarious.

Lena Cruz as the Earth Mother was a little dynamo all on her own. The Earth Mother is the alternative lifestyler using St John’s Wort as her saviour to the daily onslaught. Her aerobic scene to the song Puff the Magic Dragon was so full of energy as she was dragging her butt across the floor, but the song she did set to The Lion Sleeps Tonight was really funny, with the girls trying to calm her down on the ‘de-we-um-um-a-way’ bits.

Donna Lee as the Dubbo Housewife was also excellent in her portrayal. She is the prim and proper woman, so was the prime candidate for Earth Mother and Soap Star to initiate into using mother’s other little helper for some afternoon delight.

Her scene where she unfortunately doesn’t make it to the loo on time and comes into the next scene wearing onesie pyjamas was hilarious, particularly after she turned around and there was a little bunny tail on the back. But her attempt at putting on a red lace playsuit over the top of those PJs was simply laugh till you cry stuff.

Jackie Love as the Soap Star was superb in her role. She is concerned that she is about to get replaced on her TV show by someone younger and is obsessed with trying to stay younger, even though her body is telling her otherwise. She wore a fabulous leopard print dress where she gets to do a ‘Marilyn Monroe’ moment over an air vent (trying to cool down of course as yet another hot flush attacks).

There were also two other women on stage, assisting with the singing and choreography and were dressed as fellow shoppers, or shop assistants, or beauty therapists. Unfortunately because there is no program, their names are not known, but they are equally deserving of the applause.

Our four main ladies were all great singers and the choreography to the numbers added to the hilarity of the show.

The set was elegant in its simplicity - featuring a half round with four doors and a set of lift doors in the centre at the back with a raised platform just in front. The opening scene has a table with six half mannequin dummies adorned with matching bra and knickers and a g‑string over the bit where the head would be. A voice over is used to announce the arrival of the lift on the particular floor the ladies were on, much like in BBC TV series Are You Being Served.

Props came on and off the stage seamlessly, sometimes done by the actresses themselves, although there was a back stage crew member who also appeared and I was delighted to see that she blended in very well, being dressed in a midi dress to make her look like part of the cast. The set also had LED lighting built in and this was used to great effect on the final number.

I really enjoyed this show immensely, just as much as I enjoyed the first version. I can’t remember all of the songs that were in this production – they came thick and fast – much like the hot flushes. I laughed till I cried, nodded sagely at some of the lyrics, and thanked God that I don’t have half the symptoms the poor women on stage were portraying (or maybe I just don’t know it or can’t remember!)

This is a great, fast-paced production and should be seen by anyone who has yet to experience, is experiencing or has experienced menopause. It is great to have a big fat laugh at something that is totally out of your control but that over half the population goes through. And the men that are coaxed to attend this with their lady will also find it equally as amusing.

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