Regional Reviews: San Diego
Menopause the Musical
A strong aspect about Jeanie Linders script is the dialogue, and the women discuss issues that people of a similar age and background will likely relate to. Her lyrics in the musical numbers are, however, a bit more hit and miss. Songs such as "Drippin' and Droppin'" (a take off of Dusty Springfield's "Wishin' and Hopin'") and a spoof of "Puff the Magic Dragon," called "Puff, My God, I'm Draggin'," are one-joke parodies that repeat the same gag several times. Others, such as a parody of "I Got You Babe," ("I'm No Babe, Ma!") and a nod to Petula Clark's "A Sign of the Times" are somewhat more amusing, as they incorporate character-based humor.
Another issue with this musical is that the narrative is almost nonexistent. While audiences might potentially be invested in the women and their struggles, there's no legitimate conclusion, despite the evening ending with a few crowd-pleasing tunes. Notwithstanding the flaws in the script, the Escondido staging of Menopause the Musical is a likable one, partially because of Natalie Nucci's direction.
Nucci plays the humor very broadly. Some of the raunchier visual gags are hilariously executed, with her choreography emphasizing the stress faced by the protagonists. As far as Nucci's collaborators are concerned, Patrick Hoyny's audio and Jennifer Edwards' lighting help set up the different floor levels of Bloomingdale's, and the sound design features catchy melodies, courtesy of Roberta Wall and Justin Gray's musical direction. In addition, Ryan Deitrich's costumes reflect the personalities of the customers, particularly the baby boomer-style getup the "earth mother" wears. However, the greatest strength of the performance is the cast itself.
Bowman, Gilb, Malone and Ritchie bring so much personality to the dialogue and singing that they are always engaging. Each has several humorous solo moments, but they also come together effectively in tunes such as "Beauty" and "New Attitude." Bowman is frequently funny playing the diva soap star, while Malone's spacey portrayal is humorous and good for laughs. Gilb is just as comical in depicting the cautious lifestyle of the Iowa housewife, and Ritchie portrays strong confidence as the professional woman. They all bring a sense of infectious enjoyment to the material.
Many productions of Linders' show have been produced around the world, and the Welk Resort interpretation will continue to win over new fans, while the artists provide for a fun visit to Escondido.
Menopause the Musical, through June 2, 2019, at 8860 Lawrence Welk Dr, Escondido CA. Performances are Sundays through Saturdays. Tickets are $55.00 and can be purchased online at welkresorts.com/san-diego/ or by phone at 888-802-7469.