When "Menopause The Musical" hit the stage for the first time as a small production based out of a beauty shop in Orlando, no one could have foretold the success that writer and producer Jeanie Linders would soon encounter.
While menopause has been deemed an unwelcomed occurrence for many middle-aged women, Linders envisioned a musical performance that would highlight what were previously considered unspoken topics. From hot flashes to mood swings, this critically-acclaimed stage production has provided some common ground for women in more than 15 countries during the last 10 years.
On March 1 and 2, "Menopause The Musical" will make its way to Bakersfield's Fox Theater for a night filled with comedy and tasteful humor.
Set in Bloomingdale's, the show features a cast that appears throughout the play named after specific characteristics or stereotypes. There's the Iowa housewife, professional woman, Earth mother and the aging soap star. The songs featured in this musical are parodies of classic hits from the '60s, '70s and '80s.
Director Seth Greenleaf was enlisted to work on the production as it expanded, and he, too, witnessed the enthusiastic response from the crowd.
"People reacted so strongly to it," Greenleaf said. "It went everywhere ... there were women who needed to see it."
Greenleaf first began working alongside Linders in 2004. He gained an understanding and appreciation of women who endure "the change," he said.
"It was only 10 years ago that menopause was an unspoken topic -- even confusing to people," Greenleaf said. "'Menopause The Musical' gave women a channel to express their experience, their hope and their strength."
Greenleaf is also the artistic director and partner of GFour Productions, a growing production and management company that has won more than 30 Tony Awards for its various productions, including "The Rink," starring Chita Rivera and Liza Minnelli, "Grand Hotel," "Big," "Catskills On Broadway" and "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change."
The addition of "Menopause The Musical" was followed by "Motherhood The Musical," a comedic stage production that delves into the challenges and rewards of motherhood. Celebrating the phases of womanhood can be a rewarding experience, especially when shared with other women.
"It's a symbol of a new phase of life that allows them to bring focus back to themselves," Greenleaf said. "They start asking questions: 'What else do I want to accomplish outside of parenthood?'"
It is questions like these that spark an interest in the minds of many women and encourage new faces to join the ranks among the "Menopause The Musical" sisterhood.