You know the music, but do you really know the lyrics? The rift is familiar, yet “chain, chain, chain” sounds like “change, change, change.” You may think that “Night Sweatin'” should be “Night Fever.”
Fear not. Your ears are not deceiving you. Instead, you are hearing the witty parodies of Menopause the Musical by Jeanie Linders, which celebrates the once dreaded event in a woman’s life.
“Everybody enjoys it, and it is a lot of fun,” states Kimberly Ann Harris, who plays Professional Woman in the musical. “Women, old and young, will be able to identify with it. The symptoms are universal. If you haven’t had them yourself, you know someone who has or have heard about it.”
No stranger to Atlanta, having been in the Alliance Theatre’s world premiere of The Color Purple as Church Lady Doris, Harris has been with the show off and on since the show began in Boston.
“I started out in 2004. I played in Boston for several months before I got a call to come to do The Color Purple’s world premiere in Atlanta. No one knew what the The Color Purple would do at that point, but I felt like I kind of had to ride the ride,” she explains. “I just started working with Menopause in Boston, and I loved the ladies that I was working with. It was kind of bittersweet when I left.”
While Harris was a part of the company for The Color Purple, the producers of Menopause the Musical kept a close watch on her availability and allowed her to return to the show once the Atlanta engagement was completed. Her reunion with Menopause would be short, though, as The Color Purple would make its Broadway debut a year later.
“Eventually, I had to leave to do The Color Purple on Broadway. I did the show on Broadway, and I did three years on the road. All the time the producers of Menopause the Musical were calling me and checking in to see if I was available, and I loved that,” she says. “As soon as the tour was done, they called and asked if I was available, and I said as a matter of fact I am. Since 2010 I have been doing little tours and longer tours with Menopause.”
While she enjoyed her experience with The Color Purple, stating that her time in the show “was a mountaintop experience,” she equally enjoys being in Menopause the Musical. Returning to Atlanta with the show is something that she is looking forward to.
Already the longest playing musical in Atlanta, the show returns October 4 at the Gwinnett Center. The show features four different types of women who all meet in a department store and share a common experience that unites them. The women represent a sort of cross section of the country: a professional woman, an Iowa housewife, a soap star and a hippie-type character.
“We find ourselves all shopping in the lingerie department at a sale at Bloomingdales. That is what brings us all together. We start shopping, and there is a little rift that ensues fighting over a bra,” she explains. “Then, we all realize that we are in the throes of menopause and all the symptoms that it has. That is what binds us. We pass through the day shopping, experiencing, singing and dancing in Bloomingdales.”
According to Harris, the songs create the fun and jovial atmosphere of the production. Using popular hits from the 1950s, 1960s and the 1970s, the lyrics of these songs have been changed to reflect the various stages of menopause.
“People will recognize this music and find it hysterical that words have been changed to help tell the story of menopause. That is what makes it so funny,” Harris states. “There’s a whole disco medley and a Beach Boys medley. I enjoy the disco section. It is a lot of fun. It uses the actual moves that John Travolta does in Saturday Night Fever.”
As enjoyable as the sequence is for her, the number is demanding (she considers it her workout), and in a ninety minute show where she is onstage most of the show, there isn’t much downtime to rest. Harris comments, “This whole show is actually a workout. For ninety minutes most of us don’t leave the stage very long. We are always singing and dancing. Whether it is a solo number or a duet, all four of us are always on the stage.”
From the start, the musical is a high-energy romp, and audiences have been eating it up. “They are with us from the beginning. They take this ride with us. We start with a high-energy number and go, go, go,” she says.
No matter what age you are, the night promises to be one where mothers, daughters, sisters and friends can bond and celebrate womanhood. “It is such a fun ride, and it has wonderful music, talented performers and lots of fun. If you want to come and have fun and just laugh, come to Menopause the Musical. You are going to leave elevated with those beautiful, wonderful songs in your head,” she comments.
Produced by GFour Productions, Menopause the Musical plays at the Gwinnett Center form October 4 through October 14, 2012. Tickets are on sale at Ticketmaster.com, by phone at 800-745-3000, or in person at the Gwinnett Center box office Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information on the show please visit the website for GFour Productions.
By: Kenny Norton