The menopause monologues

Forget 'Sex and the City'. A musical celebrating hormonal baby boomers is soon to hit London
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The Independent Culture

Farewell The Vagina Monologues and Sex and the City. Armed with a cast of hormonal baby boomers, one-liners about memory loss and incontinence, and innuendo-laden versions of pop classics, Menopause: The Musical is heading for the London stage.

Billed as "a hilarious celebration of women and The Change", the all-singing, all-dancing comedy opens in the lingerie section of a department store, where four protagonists are fighting over a black lace bra. Over 90 minutes the women become friends after experiencing a collective catharsis in which they gossip about everything from chocolate binges to hormone replacement therapy.

Auditions were taking place this weekend for the British version of the cult show. Industry insiders say the roles would suit actresses such as Joanna Lumley and Annette Crosbie.

News of the London debut of Menopause: The Musical was welcomed by commentators and menopause campaigners including Claire Rayner, who described it as "liberating".

The show's 26 feel-good numbers are likely to give the British much to relate to. Among them is a medley of Bee Gees hits "Night Fever" and "Staying Alive" - sung as "Night Sweating" and "Staying Awake".

First performed in March 2001 in a tiny theatre in Orlando, Menopause: The Musical has become an institution in the US, where it has inspired a grass-roots movement, described as a "sisterhood" by its creator, Jeanie Linders.

Linders, 58, says she purposely waited until she had developed it to a polished state before braving the scrutiny of London's theatre critics. Confident its "universal message" will translate well in the UK, she is not fussed about whether its cast contains any household names.

"This show isn't about star power," she said. "You would feel happier going up on stage with four girlfriends, than three girlfriends and Helen Mirren."

Claire Rayner said she would book a seat for the opening night. "The menopause tells you, 'You're over 50 - you're getting old.' But just because women's reproductive life may have come to an end, that doesn't mean their sex life has to."

John Studd of the British Menopause Society said: "I can't wait. Talking about the menopause hasn't all got to be about death and destruction.

However, the impresario Thelma Holt said the show sounded "boring", adding: "The stigma went a long time ago, when people like Germaine Greer and Susie Orbach wrote about it in the Sixties."

For more informationgo to menopausethemusical.com

MENOPAUSE: THE FACTS

* Menopause normally occurs between the ages of 45 and 50, though it can begin as early as 30.

* Osteoporosis affects one in four post-menopausal women. Some women may lose 20 per cent of their bone mass in the first five to seven years following menopause.

* About three-quarters of women will have symptoms ranging from hot flushes to vaginal dryness.

* Hormone replacement therapy (HRT), taken by a third of menopausal women, is the most effective way to relieve symptoms.

* There is a lower risk of coronary heart disease when HRT is taken before the age of 60.

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