Oct. 11--Four women from different walks of life have an important message to share with the Paramount Theater audience tonight: No, it isn't just your imagination. It really is hot in here.
In "Menopause the Musical," main characters Soap Star, Iowa Housewife, Professional Woman and Earth Mother may not seem to have much in common on the surface, but once they cross paths, they discover a sisterhood behind all the symptoms.
And Megan Cavanagh, who plays Earth Mother in tonight's production of Jeanie C. Linders' "Menopause the Musical" at the Paramount Theater, says there's a not-so-silent brotherhood as well. There's no reason for the menfolk to steer clear of the show, because gentlemen in the audience often discover that the musical field guide to The Change covers familiar territory indeed.
"You can see them nudging their partners in the audience and saying, 'That's you,' " Cavanagh said with a laugh. "They come reluctantly, but they end up totally enjoying it and loving it."
The 26 songs playfully tweak several decades' worth of familiar pop melodies, including "Change, Change, Change," "Stayin' Awake," "Puff, My God, I'm Draggin'," "My Husband Sleeps Tonight" and "Don't Say Nothing Bad About My Body."
Each of the musical's characters is muddling through bewildering changes in her life, ranging from fuzzy thinking to restless nights to radical shifts in her body temperature -- and her ability to handle irritating people and situations gracefully.
Earth Mother, for instance, "is very nurturing," Cavanagh said. "She's into meditation; she's vegan.
"She's coping, though, with mood swings. It's taking her to places she hasn't been before. Mainly anger. This is new to her, because she's always been pretty happy all the time."
If Cavanagh looks familiar to you tonight, that's probably because you've seen her on both the big screen and the small one. She played Marla Hooch in "A League of Their Own" and Broomhilde in "Robin Hood: Men in Tights," among other feature film roles; on television, she has appeared on "Home Improvement," "Friends," "Just Shoot Me," "Will and Grace" and other comedies. And if you saw the Academy Award-nominated animated film "Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius," you've heard her voice already.
Her "Menopause" character, however, is having trouble recognizing herself.
Anger may be a new experience for Earth Mother, but it can be a pretty funny one. It's easier to put the transition into perspective by acknowledging the humor in the hijacked personality traits, and "by talking about it and having it out in the open," Cavanagh said.
"A lot of women think they're the only one going through this. This show makes you realize you are not alone. The generation before us didn't really discuss it. Now we are."
Even the actresses' tour van, sheathed in bold graphics, prompts conversations, she said -- much in the same way the musical itself does, "by bringing humor to something that is difficult."
And here's a hot news flash for you: The show's straight talk and camaraderie even help cast members weather The Change. Cavanagh, who has been with the show off and on since 2004 and who also has played the Iowa Housewife character, said she's in menopause now herself.
"Knowing what those symptoms are really helped me," she said.
Menopause the Musical
$57 gold circle; $47; $42
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