Time for a Change
With Menopause The Musical, it’s easy to laugh about what’s taboo
What’s so funny about menopause? Well, if the ladies of Menopause The Musical at the Luxor have their say, just about everything from hot flashes and mood swings to sleepless nights and aging are fair game in a show that makes light of “the change.”
Four women start off the show as complete strangers until they get in a battle over a bra while shopping at a department store. One has a hot flash, and they all realize their common plight—going through menopause—and commiserate through songs covering the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s with the lyrics changed into amusing parodies. “Stayin’ Alive” becomes “Stayin’ Awake” while “My Girl” turns into a lament about “My Thighs.” Cheeky turns of phrase convert “Heat Wave” lyrics into, “I’m having a hot flash, a tropical hot flash,” all while the ladies move from one floor of the department store to another.
Laura Lee O’Connell, who has played the Iowa housewife since Menopause opened in Las Vegas in 2006, says the show was never about complaining. “We never say ‘period’ in the show. (Jeanie Linders, the playwright) made it funny and celebratory and about acceptance,” she says. “It’s so wonderful that we can all talk about it and laugh about it.”
None of the characters have a name; each goes by an archetype such as earth mother, professional woman and soap star to represent the different types of women that the audience can relate to. O’Connell’s character, in her pink suit and red curls, is more of the naïve Midwesterner in the show.
“There are little liberating reactions from the audience, like when I try on the lingerie, my girdle shows and then later I do the drum solo, and my girdle shows,” she says. “Inevitably, one lady will lift up her skirt after the show and show me her girdle. She thinks she knows me and wants to show me that she’s like me.”
Audience members come in groups, some celebrating a marriage, 60th birthday parties or even divorce. O’Connell says that one woman who survived cancer came to the show and said, “That was the first time I laughed in a year and a half.”
“This show is more than a woman’s show. Many people come and say they feel better after they see it,” she says.
Of course, the most hilarious reactions come from the men, some looking awkward as they’re waiting in line to see 90 minutes of menopause jokes. “They’re the loudest. They’re the first ones to stand up and clap. I’m so glad it’s out in the open.”
Last year, the show celebrated its 3,000th performance in Las Vegas and those many hours of performing onstage have made the Menopause cast a close-knit group of friends.
“This same cast has been together since we were at the Hilton,” O’Connell says. “We’ve been through divorces, we’ve lost our parents, we’ve watched our children growing up. Because there’s only four of us in the dressing room, you have a certain amount of history. We like to joke that we’ll be doing this in wheelchairs in 20 years.”
Luxor, 5:30 p.m. Wed.-Mon., 8 p.m. Tues., $49.95-$65 plus tax and fee. 702.262.4400