Monday, Jan. 30, 2006 | 8:25 a.m.
What: "Meonpause the Musical"
When: Beginning 7 p.m. Wednesday, 7 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays; 2 p.m. Wednesdays; 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturdays; 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sundays; dark Fridays
Where: Las Vegas Hilton's Shimmer Cabaret
It's a "chick flick," but live onstage.
"Menopause the Musical," now being performed in 12 cities, premieres at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Las Vegas Hilton's Shimmer Cabaret.
"It's very much a celebration of women," producer Kathi Glist said. "It appeals mostly to women. Men get dragged to it, but end up loving it."
Jeanie Linders created the show, which debuted on March 28, 2001, in a 76-seat theater in Orlando, Fla.
The Shimmer, with a seating capacity of more than 300, is huge by comparison.
Since the curtain first went up almost five years ago, the musical has been performed in 40 cities and six countries.
The premise of the story involves four women who meet at a lingerie sale. They come from diverse backgrounds, but have one thing in common -- they are experiencing menopause.
The four characters include a "hippie type" earth mother; an ambitious power woman; a housewife living in the shadow of her husband's success; and an aging soap star on the verge of being replaced by a younger woman.
"It's an ensemble piece, equally balanced," Glist said.
The musical is directed by Kathryn Conte and choreographed by Patty Bender. The musical director is Alan Plado.
The 90-minute show includes song parodies of 25 popular recordings from the 1960s-1980s, such as "I Heard It Thru the Grapevine; You No Longer See 39" and the disco-era "Stayin' Awake! Stayin' Awake!"
Glist, who has been with the production almost from the beginning, said the author had never written anything before "Menopause."
"She was inspired by a major hot flash and a bottle of wine," Glist said.
Glist said the audience is like a fifth person in the story.
"At times we let them in," she said. "Sometimes the fans forget they are watching a show -- it's very real, if the actors do their jobs right."
Glist says the show has actually inspired many women to openly discuss a subject that once was taboo.
"Many women were embarrassed about it and chose not to talk about it," she said. "Though the show is entertaining, it has provided grounds for women to talk about going through 'the change.'
"Women will walk into the showroom as strangers and walk out forming a common bond, a sisterhood."
The decision to place the show at the Hilton's Shimmer Cabaret rather than in a larger room on the Strip was that of the producers.
"We approached the Hilton," Glist said. "We were looking for a nice, intimate venue, an intimate place. It was our first choice."
The initial contract is for a year, but Glist believes the show could be there indefinitely.
"We pretty much have never closed anywhere we've opened for a long-term engagement," she said.
She said the Hilton is an ideal location -- it isn't on the Strip, and so should attract locals. And it is near the Convention Center.
"It's such a fabulous place," Glist said. "The women are always looking for things to do while their men are at the convention."
Many fans become "Menopause groupies," seeing the show a dozen times or more, according to Glist.
"It's kind of a 'Rocky Horror' show for menopausal women," she said.
A comedy night has been added to Fitzgeralds Second Floor Showroom.
Michael Colyar's Comedy Extravaganza is at 9 p.m. Wednesdays.
Tickets are $19.95.
Colyar appears regularly at the Comedy Union in Los Angeles.
Jerry Fink can be reached at 259-4058 or at [email protected]