WASHINGTON — It isn’t fun for anyone involved: From spouses to kids and the women themselves, menopause can be a difficult time.
Even though about half of the world’s population will one day go through “the change,” it’s still considered a taboo subject. That’s what inspired the women behind “Menopause, The Musical” to create the hit show.
“Menopause was called ‘the silent passage’ for many years,” says producer Kathi Glist. “It just wasn’t talked about.”
The idea behind the musical, which is celebrating its 13th year, came about when writer Jeanie Linders was drinking wine with some girlfriends, Glist says. She experienced a hot flash, and started singing “I’m having a hot flash” to the tune of the 1963 song “Heat Wave” by Martha & the Vandellas:
Linders kept writing lyrics like that to pop songs from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, and soon a musical was born.
It has since traveled throughout the United States and to 15 other countries. It has a permanent residency in Las Vegas at the Luxor Hotel & Casino for nine years.
The musical centers around four female archetypes: the businesswoman, the hippie, the housewife and the actress. The characters collide while shopping for lingerie in an upscale department store and soon discover they have one thing in common.
“When a woman is at this passage in her life, it can really go either way: She can say ‘the best is behind me’ … or ‘now it’s my turn,'” Glist says.
“[The musical] helps women take back control at a time when they feel like they have no control.”
But there’s something for the men, too.
“A man in Seattle, many years ago when we first produced this show, gave me a line I will always remember: ‘This show should be a mandatory workshop for all men,'” Glist says.
Students of pop music will appreciate the many puns offered up through the musical. Remember the Bee Gees’ “Staying Alive”? That gets tuned into “Staying Awake.” And lyrics from Tokens’ “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” are transformed into “In the guest room or on the sofa, my husband sleeps tonight.”
Glist says that she started working with the musical on the front end of her own change — she hadn’t experienced a single menopausal symptom. But now, Glist says, her experience with the cast has helped lighten her load as she comes out the other side.
“I can really relate to … looking in the mirror and seeing my mother,” she says. “And the line ‘My hourglass shape turned into a glass of water.’ What did happen to my waist line?”
“Menopause, The Musical” comes to the Warner Theatre in Northwest D.C. June 13 and 14. The previously scheduled June 15 show has been canceled. Tickets for that show can be exchanged for one of the other three performances that weekend.