Made of tough stuff, this show—it’s endured “The Change” twice.
Belting, hoofing and chortling about its titular condition, Menopause The Musical arrived in 2006 at the Las Vegas Hilton (now the Westgate), segued to the Luxor, and now relocates to Harrah’s, sprucing up the lighting, costumes and set along the way. Yet its humor remains hilariously intact.
Among female-centric Vegas shows, Menopause always seemed to me the least exclusionary to those of us on the other side of the chromosomal divide. Not that short-timers Divorce Party the Musical and The D* Word were hostile, per se—but their comic claws drew satirical blood from the un-fairer sex. Menopause does contain those moments: Turning the Platters’ “Only You (Can Make My Dreams Come True)” into an ode to a vibrator certainly carries allusions to male inadequacies.
Still, Menopause is so good-naturedly focused on the physical and emotional tolls of middle-aged womanhood that it almost begs for a testosterone counterpart, say, Erectile Dysfunction The Musical (almost).
While the creative conceit—writing themed lyrics to a bevy of baby boomer-era classics—isn’t original, its execution is consistently funny. You know the formula: “Chain of Fools” becomes “Change of Life”; “Stayin’ Alive” morphs into “Stayin Awake”; “My Guy” transforms into “My Thighs”; “Puff the Magic Dragon” emerges as “Puff, My God, I’m Draggin’,” etc.
And it goes over like gangbusters owing to four—excuse the expression—balls-out performances.
In roles representing types rather than characters, the still-hippie-fied earth mother (Vita Corimbi), aging soap star (Paige O’Hara), pant-suited professional woman (Lisa Mack) and sweetly goofy Iowa housewife (Laura Lee O’Connell) bond over a bra sale at Bloomingdale’s, unleashing the torrent of parody numbers, with some clever routines filling the space between. All have bravura moments.
Blessed with an elastic face, nasally delivery and endless bag of facial/bodily expressions, O’Connell is a laugh machine. Beyond her orgasmic discoveries in “Only You,” she’s a sight trying to wriggle into lingerie two sizes too small for her broad frame in a pantomime bit. Jiggling with the ladies to “Looking for Love”—now a food lament—she croons, “Packing on pounds where I didn’t have spaces.”
With enough lung power to blow Harrah’s into the Linq, Mack dominates the stage when she does a spot-on (and literally hair-raising) Tina Turner imitation in “What’s Love Got to Do With It” and bemoans memory loss in “The Great Pretender” (lyric: Oh yes, I’m the great pretender, pretending there’s no brain collapse).
Poking fun at aging eyesight, Corimbi performs sublime silent shtick trying to read a menu, her arms extending farther and farther until her posture resembles a gorilla trying to make it out. And O’Hara’s highlights include seducing an audience member (male) during Irving Berlin’s “Heat Wave”-turned-“Hot Flash,” purring, My personal summer is really a bummer, I’m having a hot flash.
When the four sing together—which is frequently—the comedy wattage really amps up.
Menopause might be about midlife hot flashes, but Menopause The Musical still romps like a teenager in heat.
Got an entertainment tip? Email Steve.Bornfeld@VegasSeven.com.