In an odd, yet somehow appropriate exhortation given the context, actress Megan Cavanagh, who stars as Earth Mother in Menopause the Musical coming to the Hobby Center next week, says audiences should see the show because: "It'll make you laugh so hard you'll pee your pants."
Cavanagh, whose most notable claim to fame was being Marla Hooch, part of the troupe of female baseball players in the 1992 film A League of Their Own, has been appearing off and on in Menopause the Musical since December of 2004. (It began in 2001, first staged at a theater in Orlando, Florida.) She's traveled around the world playing either Earth Mother or Iowa Housewife amidst constantly changing casts.
The parts are adjusted a bit, depending on what country they're playing, but the basic premise is that four woman meet while shopping in a department store and end up discussing, laughing and singing through all the passages of menopause including hot flashes, forgetfulness and insomnia.
The show is the brainchild of Jeanie Linders, who reportedly felt that women of a certain age were being overlooked in mainstream theater. The result has been a show that has been seen by an estimated 11 million people, and is now coming to Houston for a third time.
In most places the audiences are predominantly female but in Malaysia, a Muslim country, all the women brought their husbands, Cavanagh said. "It was different. They don't laugh the way we do; they're gigglers. They giggled their way through. We were used to huge laughs. "
The only line that got a big laugh there, she said, was one that normally is far from a showstopper for them. "I'm British by heritage; bland food by bloodline," she recited. Malaysians used to be ruled by the British and their own cuisine would be considered spicy by comparison, so this appealed to them, she said.
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On a more serious note, Cavanagh said she's had women come up to her after the show and say it's the first time they've been out since their husband died. "It's a really wonderful way for women to realize they aren't alone in menopause."
And the reason it's been so popular for so many people, she said, "is that so many people relate to it and the husbands can relate to their wives going through it. It puts it all in a 'if we don't laugh, we're going to cry perspective on this?' We laugh.'"
Menopause the Musical runs June 15 through June 27 at the Hobby Center in Zilkha Hall. To purchase tickets call: (713) 315-2525 or visit www.thehobbycenter.org or stop by the Hobby Center box office, 800 Bagby.