Change is good. But apparently “the change” is great.
The popular “Menopause The Musical” is returning to the area for a short run of performances at Kimmel’s Perelman Theater But since its previous local run kept adding dates to keep up with demand, a short engagement might not be enough.
Out cast member Ingrid Cole understands why the long-running comedic musical, which began in 2001, maintains a strong following, both here and abroad. When she first saw it, the 39-year-old actress knew she just had to be in it.
“I’m from South Florida,” she said. “The show originated in Orlando and my producers became a part of it in 2003. So, I saw the show in South Florida with some friends. A soon as I saw it, I realized that there was a part for me in the show. I got real excited about it. I happened to notice the reactions of the women I was sitting with. I remember sitting there in the seat going, ‘I have to do this show.’ In the interim, I had moved to Atlanta and realized that they were coming to Atlanta to do the show. I immediately set up a time to audition.”
Set in a department store, “Menopause” features four very different women who meet by chance at a lingerie sale. They soon develop a sisterhood, as they realize menopause is no longer something that should be suffered in silence.
Cole plays the show’s Earth Mother — the character she said was most like her in real life.
“She’s a hippie,” she said. “She’s real laidback. She recycles. She’s very easygoing and probably the most grounded of the four.”
Cole added that each of the characters, which includes Power Woman, Iowa Wife and Soap Star, has her fans.
“It’s pretty equal,” she said when asked which one is the most popular. “There is a woman of color in the show [Power Woman] and she, because of her voice, the songs that she sings, is probably the most memorable.”
Cole said the reason the show has been such an enduring hit, aside from the relatable characters, is that it encourages a comical yet healthy dialogue about issues of aging and women’s health that many are uncomfortable talking about.
“Women come to see our show and they’re feeling crazy, fat and alone,” Cole said. “And then they get in a room with a thousand other women who are going through this and realize that they are not alone. We end up singing and dancing about it. It’s empowering. My grandmother couldn’t even say the word menopause. Now we’re singing about it. It’s an inspirational show. We have lots of men who come to see the show. They have a good time and laugh. Men have wives, mothers and sisters. Everybody knows someone who’s going through the change. It’s universal.”
She added that “Menopause” also draws a significant gay audience.
“I see lots of lesbian women who come and see the show with their friends,” she said. “It’s a girls’ night out. I also see a lot of gay men there with their mothers. In every city that we go to, there’s a handful of the gay and lesbian community [attending].”
“Menopause” also generates a lot of repeat business: Cole explained people who see the show tend to come back with their friends.
“We get a lot of repeat customers just by word of mouth,” she said. “It’s 90 minutes of straight laughter. You’re laughing at yourself; there is no better medicine than that.”
“Menopause The Musical” runs Sept. 29-Oct. 4 at Kimmel’s Perelman Theater, 240 S. Broad St. For more information, visit www.menopausethemusical.com or call (215) 790-5847.