By TERRI BRYCE REEVES
TAMPA — Bring your boas, tiaras, waterproof mascara and hand-held fans — it’s going to be a rip-roaring gals’ night out (although men are very much welcome too).
GFour Productions brings the international hit show, Menopause the Musical, to Ferguson Hall at the Straz Center for six performances, June 27 through July 1. And there’s a special guest star on tap: Cindy Williams of Laverne and Shirley fame plays the “fifth girlfriend.”
The 90-minute theatrical song and dance fest brings the “silent passage” out of the closet and casts jokes about hot flashes, mood swings, wrinkles, weight gain, brain fog and all the other interesting little changes the female body experiences.
Call it Humor Replacement Therapy.
The Tampa cast features Lisa Mack as the Professional Woman, Patti Gardner as the Soap Star, June Lang as Earth Mother, and Liz Hyde as the Iowa Housewife. The women, who meet at a lingerie sale at a department store, are either on the brink of, in the middle of, or have survived “the change.” They form a bond and, along with the audience members, sing along to parodies from the classic pop songs of the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s.
“It is freakin’ hysterical,” said Vicki Willis, who will see the show for the third time around. “They change the lyrics so songs like Puff the Magic Dragon becomes Puff, My God I’m Draggin’. Stayin’ Awake is sung to the tune of Stayin’ Alive.”
Cindy Williams got her first
big break in the role of Ron Howard’s
girlfriend in 1973’s American
Graffiti. Then she skipped
into our hearts as the co-star of
Laverne and Shirley. Since then
she’s made some films, done some
theater, and wrote her memoir,
Shirley, I Jest!
We caught up with her and at age 70, she’s as much fun as ever.
Q. So you are the “fifth girlfriend” in Menopause the Musical –a role created just
for you when you are available to perform with the regular cast. Please tell me a
little bit about your character.
A. I play myself with a few fun things added.
Q. Will you be singing any solos? Did you take singing lessons or are you a born
A. I sing one little ditty by myself and can carry a tune if it’s in my key and I’ve had 8 hours of sleep.
Q. Do you believe this musical has a social value in helping women cope with and
accept “the change?”
A. Absolutely. The show makes fun of menopause. It takes what might be considered a depressing time of life and turns it into laugh-out-loud fun and joy for both women and men.
Q. How has the word “menopause” come out of the closet since the days you were on Laverne and Shirley?
A. When I went through menopause, I knew nothing about it. I was depressed, fat, and sweating constantly. My memory was shot. I know it sounds silly, but I thought I was the only one suffering through this. But now, as we all know, there’s so much information out there for women’s health…and then, of course, there’s Menopause the Musical.
Q. Any special connection to Florida?
A. I’ve performed in many shows in different cities throughout Florida and I have many wonderful memories of this beautiful state.
Q. Can you touch on your career and life highlights you’d like mentioned?
A. Are you kidding? I’m so old now, I can’t remember any of that except to say I’ve been so blessed to have had and still have a wonderful career…Wait, what was the question?
Q. In Laverne and Shirley, you were exploring your budding hormones. In
Menopause the Musical, you are saying goodbye to the hormones that made you
a woman, mother and a wife. Do you (or your character) miss that “period of your
A. No. Thanks to my estrogen patch, I’m still lusting after Carmine.
Menopause the Musical
Where: Ferguson Hall at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts,
1010 N. MacInnes Place, Tampa
When: June 27 through July 1 (various start times)
Info: (813) 299-7827 or visit www.strazcenter.org