A Flashy Homage to Our Hormones: ‘Menopause The Musical 2’

Poster for 'Menopause the Musical 2'. The title, presenting companies, location, and date are noted.

The night Menopause The Musical 2: Cruising Through ‘The Change’ came to Kingston, my mother was in town, so naturally I invited her along as a guest expert. 

She’d seen the original Menopause The Musical on tour several years ago and hadn’t enjoyed it much, offering such sizzling critiques as “I think there’s a certain type of ‘hilarious’ humour that I don’t like,” and “I hate the Beach Boys.” Ever the pair of affectionate haters, we put on our sensible shoes and set off on a mother-child excursion to the Kingston Grand Theatre

Menopause The Musical was created by Jeanie Linders in 2001 and is now followed by a sequel with additional book and lyrics by Karen Bishko. In Menopause 2, four middle-aged gal pals board the S.S. Gigantic for an all-expenses-paid cruise helmed by a mysterious—and presumably sexy—captain. 

While Earth Mother (Linette Doherty) fields calls from her helpless partner at home, Soap Star (Lorena MacKenzie) is determined to make the most of the luxury trip, signing up for all the exercise classes and spa treatments the ship has to offer. Meanwhile, Moose Jaw Housewife (Denise Oucharek) is struggling to let go of her deceased husband (it doesn’t help that she carries the urn with his ashes around in her purse), and Professional Woman (Amy Rivard) is on the hunt for a glass of wine. 

Menopause 2 is all the things women are told they’re not supposed to be—talkative, awkward, silly, and unapologetic. The show is light on plot and choreography, focusing instead on singing and storytelling as the group navigates hormone therapy pills, air conditioning failure, and an upcoming karaoke night through playful banter and comedic musical numbers. 

Popular songs of the 70s and 80s (and a few stragglers from the 50s and 60s) have been refashioned Weird Al-style to reflect a slew of topics ranging from hot flashes and memory lapses to body image issues and struggles with technology. Although the flavour of womanhood represented in this show doesn’t veer from the middle-class and cisheteronormative, the characters explore, to borrow the title’s phrasing, ‘the change’ in an engaging and accessible way. 

It’s not just pop songs that get parodied in Menopause 2—the musical theatre homages, while more loosely based on their source material, made for some of my favourite moments. Professional Woman’s scatterbrained tribute to “Memory” from Cats had me in stitches, and the group’s spoof of “Cell Block Tango” from Chicago is one of the most visually engaging moments. 

While jukebox musicals can feel like an uninspired way for theatre companies to play it safe creatively and cash in on nostalgia, this show offers a weirder—and, consequently, more interesting—blend of familiar tunes, health lessons, and comedy. From “Can’t Smile With Botox” to “Three Pads Daily”, the line between knee-slappers and groaners is thin, and the urge to cringe crept over me from time to time. But as Earth Mother says, “Who cares if we embarrass ourselves? Life is for living!” Call it gimmicky or lowbrow, but it’s entertaining, and I can’t say I’ve ever seen a more exuberant audience at a theatre in Kingston. Being a one-act musical, Menopause 2 doesn’t overstay its welcome—it’s just long enough to remain fun the whole time, and, to my knowledge, everyone survived the bathroom lineups afterward. 

In Menopause 2, the original Menopause setlist has been revamped for a new era of post-menopausal fans—which appealed to the aforementioned Beach Boys hater, who was excited to hear Chaka Khan and Donna Summer in the pre- and post-show playlists. I find it fascinating how quickly music tastes shift, even within generations—my mum’s early Gen X sensibilities clash so strongly with the Boomer music of the original Menopause, just as I’m sure there were audience members currently in their 40s and 50s who had no palate for Menopause 2’s offering of disco hits. 

If the franchise continues, I’m curious to find out what Menopause the Musical 3 might have in store for the late Gen X/early Millennial crowd—“Do you believe in life after blood?” By the time it’s my turn, we might get Katy Perry’s “Hot N Cold” or a Taylor Swift “She wears short skirts, I wear t-shirts” nod to dressing for hot flashes. 

While I hope to see Pregnancy (and maybe even Pregnancy 2) before I sing and dance through my own Menopause, attending the show as a 20-something was an enjoyable—and, in a way, reassuring—peek into an impending hormonal future. What I appreciate most about this show is how it makes fun of menopause without making fun of women, inviting the audience to share in the in-jokes and enjoy the journey together. 

“Menopause the Musical 2: Cruising Through ‘The Change’” played at the Kingston Grand Theatre on May 21, 2024, presented by MODO-LIVE & Programme. Information about the show’s ongoing North American tour can be found here.