Sisterhood is ‘stayin’ alive’ in musical about menopause

Sisterhood is ‘stayin’ alive’ in musical about menopause

“As long as menopause is around, ‘Menopause The Musical’ will be around,” says actress Kimberly Vanbiesbrouck, who has been doing the show for more than 12 years on and off.

“Menopause The Musical,” about a group of menopausal women who bond in a lingerie department, comes to the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville for one night only Jan. 10. The show is performed each night at Harrah’s Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip and is touted as the longest running musical in Las Vegas history.

“It’s been a total blessing as an actor to have this show in my life,” Vanbiesbrouck says. “I started doing a production in Detroit and thought it would be the usual couple of months, but we were such a huge hit that it ran for four and a half years…. which is completely unusual; nothing runs for that long. It doesn’t happen generally.”

Although she’s played the Iowa Housewife and supervised choreography for the show, Vanbiesbrouck will play the role of Soap Star in the Fayetteville production of the show.

“Soap Star is an aging soap star who basically has her career based on her looks and her weight, and then she suddenly starts to get older and has menopausal symptoms, and she doesn’t know what to do because you can’t control menopause,” Vanbiesbrouck laughs. “She goes to Bloomingdale’s and meets these three other women who are going through the same thing, and it becomes a moment of camaraderie and appreciation for each other as opposed to something that’s not great, like menopause. It’s not just about the hot flashes, the night sweats and other symptoms. It becomes about women bonding together over something that they all go through. And so she’s like the hardest one to convince that it’s all good.”

Over the last 12 years with the show, Vanbiesbrouck has grown into the role more and more.

“I started doing the show when I was a little younger, and I wasn’t in menopause. And now I’m getting a little older, going toward menopause. And I can feel what she goes through,” she adds. That relatability, she says, is evident both on and off stage.

“What I love about the show, what makes it such a joy to do every time, is the fact that I also have so many women in my life that helped me through tough times. And you can in a small way see it during the show,” she says. “A lot of times it’s more women than men [in the audience], although men thoroughly enjoy the show when they come to see it. But you watch [women] together have this journey of realizing it’s all OK because we’re all going through it. For me, that’s been the greatest thing. The women I do this show with are amazing, and there’s that camaraderie onstage and in the audience. So for me, that’s been the best part.”

For those going through “the silent change,” the show’s comedy and parody songs have a salubrious effect.

“The No. 1 thing it helps with is it makes you laugh about menopause. I think laughter is the best healing medicine. Instead of maybe being upset about it, or crying about it, literally, they get to laugh,” Vanbiesbrouck says. “The brilliance of the show is that they take songs a lot of people know and change the lyrics.”

“Menopause the Musical” takes well-known tunes from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s to make them relatable to menopause. So the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” becomes “Stayin’ Awake/Night Sweatin’” and “Puff, The Magic Dragon” becomes “Puff, My God, I’m Draggin.’”

Vanbiesbrouck adds that the harmony on stage extends beyond the musical numbers.

“Secondly, the best thing is definitely the camaraderie with the other women. It just really helps you feel not alone in something that you might be going through. And the fun part about it is that mothers bring their daughters. It’s generational. So before the daughters go into it, they know what they’re expecting. And I think a lot of times with the men too, they laugh about it because they do go through it with their wives and their mothers, and they see the symptoms and they see the hot flashes. And so that’s why they enjoy it as well.

“I don’t think there is an audience that it really wouldn’t appeal to. I think sometimes when they hear the name of the show, they’re like, ‘Yeah, I don’t want to see that.’ But if you can get them in the seats, I’ve never met anybody who just hasn’t had a good time with that. It’s just a really joyous evening.”



‘Menopause The Musical’

WHAT — A 90-minute musical comedy celebrating “The Change” in four women who meet in a department store. The show, which is the longest running musical comedy in Las Vegas history, features musical parodies, sisterhood and more.

WHEN — 7 p.m. Jan. 10

WHERE — Walton Arts Center, 495 W. Dickson St., Fayetteville

COST — $35-$55


Categories: Theater