22 years ago, “Menopause The Musical'' danced, sang, and laughed its way across an Off-Broadway stage in Orlando, Florida and became an instant sensation that’s been seen today by almost 17 million people worldwide.
This Sunday, March 19, the official show will make a one-day-only appearance at the Ulster Performing Arts Center (UPAC) in Kingston for a 3pm matinee performance that’s sure to resonate with anyone who has found themselves at any stage of “The Change,” as well as their loved ones who are along for the ride.
“It has been so incredible to watch the unfolding of this show. It is so cathartic and joyful. You come in from whatever day you’re having and suddenly you realize that it’s okay that I’m aging because everyone goes through this,” says Nancy Slusser, who plays the character of Iowa Housewife in the UPAC production and got her start with the musical as an understudy in its second year in 2002. “When it started, we never knew how long the show was going to run but people would just come back again and again.”
Famously inspired by a hot flash and a bottle of wine, Jeanie Linders wrote the 90-minute musical as a way to celebrate the shared experience of going through menopause, with its grab-bag of unpredictable symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, and weight gain. The story starts in a department store where four very different women—an Iowa Housewife, a Professional Woman, a Soap Star, and a hippie Earth Mother—meet while shopping for bras at a lingerie sale. Soon, the cast is joking about their woeful symptoms and breaking into jubilant song and dance in a heart-warming display of female empowerment.
The laughter-filled 90-minute production is known for getting audience members out of their seats, singing along to parodies from classic pop songs of the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s. For instance, Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools” becomes “Change of Life” and “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees becomes “Stayin’ Awake.”
“I think our society has really grown as far as body image is concerned. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a size 2 or you’re aging or you have a partner or you don’t. Everyone is able to accept who they are and leave the theater happier,” says Slusser, whose time acting in the show has spanned the birth of her daughters and her own journey into menopause. “The connection this show has with audiences is just magical. Menopause is not the silent passage anymore.”
“Menopause The Musical” will run for one day only at the Ulster Performing Arts Center this Sunday, March 19 at 3pm. Tickets start at $53 and can be purchased here.