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Menopositive The Musical

Review 
by Hilary Prince

How about hormone replacement therapy to flamenco music? Want to know the secret of keeping your man despite a sagging body and hot flashes? Would you believe parsley? Did you doubt women “of a certain age” can vamp, sing, dance, act, fool around with the energy of teenagers at a rage? Not if you’ve seen Menopositive The Musical, a delightful hit comedy extraordinarily well acted and directed, which opened to a large and appreciative audience at the Victoria Playhouse Festival September 19.

Directed by Marlane O’Brien, J.J. McColl’s Menopositive The Musical was presented by One Ear Up Productions. It takes us on an hilarious adventure to the 35th high school reunion of four women “of a certain age” who meet for the first time since graduation night. The show previously played to sold-out theatres during numerous tours throughout B.C. and Saskatoon.

The amazingly talented and accomplished cast, well known to Islanders, included Pam Stevenson, Marlane O’Brien (alternate, Judi McLaren), Virginia O’Brien, and Catherine McKinnon. Perry Neatby supplied the musical accompaniment on electric piano with great flair.

Catherine McKinnon gives a consummate performance as Zsu Zsu, a character modeled on Zsa Zsa (you know who) taking us through a range of emotions that leaves us gasping for air. Unjustly described (she’s pretty glamourous) as a Queen-size waterbed mattress and a Psychic Hungarian Pumpkin, Zsu Zsu proves to be the eternal optimist as she keeps the reunion revue show on the road. She reduces us to tears of laughter and sadness as she alternatively revs up “the girls” and confesses her vulnerability and fears. A delightfully lovable character.

Marlane O’Brien is utterly convincing as the high-powered, 53-year-old business woman, commuting from coast to coast, arranging rendez-vous with her long-time lover and, unknowingly, the husband of one of the revue’s cast. She leaves her 21-year-old personal trainer, Harley-riding Buddhist other lover at home. Gymnastics and yoga must also be part of her accomplishments, she is so physically fluid.

Playwright Pam Stevenson (The Haunting of Reverend Hornsmith) plays Kate, single mother of a 30-odd-year-old son who just left home—a blessing in disguise as she finds out. Pam gives a truly hilarious performance especially as the frost-bitten 92-year-old in the reunion’s revue who feels “twenty-two inside.”

Virginia O’Brien plays Cynthia, a “Typical housewife” who never wins with her faithless husband no matter how she tries. Her former classmates finally help her discover she is a wonderful person anyway and she dances a titillating, raunchy number that leaves no doubt about her sexual attraction.

This play is much more than an entertaining musical, it is an insight into the joys, sorrows, frustrations, and delightful discoveries of aging. These four women bring magic to the production.

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