Jeanie Linders confesses at the start of our interview, “I have no theatrical background at all.”
That’s quite an admission considering the revue she created, Menopause The Musical, grew into an off-Broadway sleeper hit, toured to 250 American cities, has played in such locales as Singapore, Johannesburg and Kuala Lumpur, and has even been translated into six foreign languages. In fact, since Linders’ musical revue about the tribulations of “the change” premiered in Orlando, Florida in 2001, more than 11 million women have attended.
Linders credits two factors for the show’s success: Her marketing background and reaching the target audience. “I’ve produced arts events, and the key there is marketing and understanding who the audience is,” she told Pulse. “You have to set aside ego and not assume it’ll appeal to everyone universally. Eight years ago, when people weren’t yet talking about the `Boomer Generation,’ I knew there was an audience because I’m one of them. Women talked with their girlfriends about menopause, but it wasn’t universal with the person on the street. This show launched a dialogue on the subject.”
It helps that Menopause, which enjoys its Long Island debut July 9-August 30 at Port Washington’s Landmark on Main Street Theater, takes a comical approach. Filled with song parodies (“Puff, My God I’m Draggin’,” “Stayin’ Awake,” “My Husband Sleeps Tonight”), the show has a low-budget, let’s-put-on-a-musical-just-for-us feel, and that’s just fine with Linders. “I’m aware there’s a fine line between off-Broadway and community theater,” she says, “but I want it to feel like five girlfriends in a room—four onstage and the fifth being you, in the audience. Women sometimes can’t verbalize the frustrations and symptoms of this `life passage.’ It’s not a disease, but it’s often treated as an illness. Which is why this show
says, `join us and celebrate.’”
The response over the years, Linders added, has been overwhelming. “Cancer survivors laugh and dance onstage at the finale, throwing their turbans into the audience. Women with strokes whose husbands have carried them onstage… Eighty year old women come up and dance. One woman with inoperable cancer came several times and wanted to take all her friends, so I sent her a gas card. Her family said the show extended her life for a year—and she was buried in a Menopause The Musical t-shirt.”
DAVE’S NYC PICKS
The Norman Conquests (all three)
One of the great comic masterworks of the last century, Alan Ayckbourn’s trilogy of romantic entanglements keeps you hanging on every word, while Matthew Warchus’ staging makes you savor every nuance from his amazing English cast. It doesn’t matter in what order you see them, just see them!
(Circle in the Square, Broadway)
WORTH A LOOK
Waiting for Godot
I’ve seen enough Godots for one lifetime, but since I had to encounter those two existential tramps once more, I’m glad I had the comic brilliance of Nathan Lane and Bill Irwin to help me along. John Goodman’s worthy, too, but his first-act scene goes on to the point where your fingernails are an inch longer by intermission. (Studio 54, Broadway)
NOT MY CUP OF TEA BUT…
Rock of Ages
Rock of Ages lampoons, with love, every cliché of the 1980s and crams in all the crappy music (Twisted Sister, Bon Jovi, Foreigner) we somehow feel affection for two decades later. It’s loud and long and not exactly brimming with wit, but the cast is game, and you’ll ultimately be bludgeoned into a good time. (Brooks Atkinson Theatre, Broadway)
David Lefkowitz, co-publisher of Performing Arts Insider (TotalTheater.com), hosts the weekly radio program, Dave’s Gone By (davesgoneby.org), hosts Stagebuddy.com’s Showbiz Talk cabaret show, and directs the weekly Cablevision TV program, Shalom, Dammit!