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December 20, 2014

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Jeanie Linders’ ‘The D* Word’ filling dates at Shimmer Cabaret

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Sarah Hester Ross and Adam Ursell in “The D* Word: a Musical (*Ditched, Dumped, Divorced and Dating)” at LVH.

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Writer Jeanie Linders arrives at the premiere of her show Menopause the Musical at the Luxor.

Jeanie Linders is sitting at one of the tables near the back of Shimmer Cabaret at LVH. At the moment, the cozy, two-tiered showroom is her creative enclave, where she does some of her most fulfilling work.

Linders is a writer and a show producer, as made evident by the logo stitched into her black golf shirt: “The D* Word.” Shimmer Cabaret, the room itself, is an important facet of the new production, which opened Wednesday night (tickets start at $39; hit the LVH website for info).

“I wrote ‘The D* Word’ for this room,” Linders says. “I wrote it as a party show, and this room has a party feel to it.”

It’s also the room where Linders’ greatest success, “Menopause The Musical,” began its 10-year run in Vegas. That show has since moved to Luxor’s Atrium Showroom, but it became an afternoon hit at the then-Las Vegas Hilton.

Linders wrote the scripts for “Menopause” and “The D* Word.” The former was directed at Baby Boomers who could identify with the actual and metaphorical change of life. In “The D* Word,” Linders is again amassing a group of disaffected-but-delightful women who are dealing with life’s “D” grades: Ditched, Dumped, Divorced and Dating being the show’s four D-words and also the production’s subtitle.

This group is DeeDee (more Ds!), married for 25 years with a pair of grown children and a teenager who has been dumped for a younger, perkier version of herself; Kate, who was that younger woman for whom DeeDee was dumped (though neither realizes this) and is once more single; and Jen, who was engaged for 6 1/2 years before her fiancé fell for someone else. A man, actually. So she’s trying to find a “sperm donor” as her biological clock ticks toward 30.

This crew meets after a round of speed dating (and that nutty process itself is worth fleshing out as a musical) and become friendly, their common bond their shared angst. There is ample singing in this show, live to recorded music, with the four-woman cast belting out such familiar songs as Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive,” Nazareth’s “Love Hurts” and Linda Ronstadt’s “You’re No Good.” Twenty songs in all are performed, and there is a lot of talking, too.

“This show has more ‘book’ than ‘Menopause,’” Linders says. “There is more of a storyline. Relationships are crucial to this show, and that requires some thought and development.”

As has been proven in “Menopause,” which Linders has licensed in Las Vegas to GFour Productions, men can enjoy a show that seems so very hard-targeted toward women.

“Men really enjoy it for whatever reason,” Linders says. “It might be that the women I create are the women in these men’s lives who are coming to the show. I’m not a man basher, and the show isn’t, either. A lot of it is brought about by women themselves.”

But women do make the decision about who is in a given audience for “The D* Word.”

“The core audience is 95 percent women, or women bringing men,” Linders says. “The demo who buys tickets is women 42 and above. That’s the reality in the theater world.”

Rolling out a show that is built for a small theater is to walk “the fine line,” as Linders describes it, between community theater and off-Broadway productions. Linders knows that line because she actually watches versions of her shows.

“Oh, I am aware of when they end up pushing it to the cheap level,” says Linders, who has sat through quite a few versions of “Menopause” over the years. “I’ve been in shows where it’s so overblown. There will be this long pause while someone is waiting for a laugh, and I’ll shout, ‘Say the damn line!’ I can’t shut up. ‘Lights would be nice here!’ ”

Linders is encouraged about the show’s dates at Shimmer. It’s a different time than it was when “Menopause” arrived, around Vegas and at the LVH, where the Shimmer is a tougher sell than it was a decade ago. She notes that one of the souvenirs sold at the show are lipsticks that vibrate.

“At one of our shows, an 84-year-old woman picked up one of these lipsticks,” Linders says, laughing. “She bought two of them.”

Somewhere, a gentleman of a certain age must be wondering: Is she single?

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWiththeDish.

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