Joyous celebration of women, wit, love, and life
By Narelle Wood
Four sassy women take to the stage, set in the midst of a department store lingerie sale, to lament, laugh and learn about all things menopause. Menopause the Musical – Women on Fire sees a revitalised production of the hit show return to Melbourne with new choreography, some new songs, and plenty of new laughs.
Caroline Gillmer, Donna Lee, Megan Shapcott and Jackie Love play these four very different characters (business woman, housewife, hippy and soap star respectively) that bond over the sisterhood experience – the midlife change. Over the course of the day in their Myer-style department store (although the set is more Victoria Secret) they shop lingerie, spa-date, lunch-date and shoop shoop their way through everything from hot flushes, sex and needing to go to the bathroom.
Shapcott and Love are great but Gillmer and Lee just seem to revel in all the awkwardness and candidness that their glorious characters demand. The depiction of Lee as a housewife doesn’t quite capture the complexity of the character she brings to life; it was captivating and joyful but in a uncomfortable and desperate kind of way – hard to describe but definitely fantastic.
The musical elements is reliant on parodies of some well-known classics from the 60’s, 70’s and the occasional 80’s. There are some standout reworkings including The Great Pretender to Sane and Normal Girls (The Beach Boys’ California Girls). One of my favourites was the poignant reimagining of Sonny and Cher’s I’ve Got You Babe, exploring the complex and close relationships between mothers and daughters. For the most part the parodies work providing witty and honest commentary that has the audience guffawing loudly. However a couple of the songs, mostly at the start, sounded like they were forcing the rhymes and rhythms to create the songs they were after.
Even though it is directed and choreographed by the acclaimed Tony Bartuccio, there were moments where it seemed as though all the elements, incredible in their own right, hadn’t quite come together. This made the performance for me a little uneven; some instances that were polished and right on point and others that were good but appeared to lack cohesiveness as though it was indeed a new production still finding its feet.
Menopause the Musical may not appear to be everybody’s cup of tea, but first glances can be deceiving. It makes for both a good night out and an educational experience, and one that is sure to leave a smile on your face.
Venue: Athenaeum Theatre, 188 Collins St, Melbourne
Season: Until August 6th. Tues 7pm, Wed-Sat 7.30pm, matinees Wed 1pm & Sat 2pm
Tickets: $59.90 (+ booking fees)
Bookings: www.ticketek.com.au or 132 849