Breaking down the taboo of 'Menopause,' one song at a time
By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer
"This kind of pulls the curtain back on menopause and gives it a face — or four faces, and they're laughing and dancing and smiling."
That's how actress Teri Adams describes the job she loves so much — performing as the Iowa housewife in Menopause the Musical, which returns to Amarillo for a 7:30 p.m. Aug. 24 staging in the Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts, 500 S. Buchanan St. Tickets are $41 to $46, plus fees.
In the musical, staged here as an add-on show for Civic Amarillo's Broadway Spotlight Series, Adams' housewife character and three other women — a soap star, an earth mother-type and a businesswoman — cross paths in a department store dressing room. Though they initially scrap over the same black lace bra that they all want to buy, the women quickly bond over their shared experiences with menopause — the change in life that every woman goes through but, until recently, few talked about very publicly.
"It was kind of taboo," Adams said.
Even starring in a show about the subject was daunting at first for Adams, who first saw the show 11 years ago, then auditioned in Chicago to join the cast.
"I did pause because at the time, I wasn't even 40 yet," said Adams, who works as a professional actress in Kansas City. "I was in a real good place (in her career), was working all the time all over the city, and I thought, 'Do I really want to attach myself to something called Menopause the Musical?"
She thought she was years away from being able to identify with her character's hot flashes and night sweats, but as it happens, she was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 40.
"I went through several years and many, many surgeries dealing with that, and chemotherapy (can push) you into chemically induced menopause," Adams said. "Here I am, 11 years later, and I get what this is all about, and oh God, is it awful, but what else can you do but sing and dance about it?"
In the musical, the women perform high-spirited parodies of popular '60s and '70s songs as they discuss both the nightmares and the lighter sides of going through menopause.
"It really empowers women to take charge of their lives now and look forward to the future, rather than feeling like the best part of their lives are behind them," Adams said.
"Menopause the Musical"
Acting out the struggles has helped bond Adams with her castmates, who swap out for various tour stops and in Amarillo will include Rebecca Fisher as the soap star, Donna J. Huntley as the professional woman and Megan Cavanagh, best known for playing shy Marla Hooch in A League of Their Own, as the earth mother.
"I love the sisterhood element to it," Adams said. "Some of my best friends are the women that I tour with."
But she also loves her audiences.
"They absolutely love (the show)," Adams said. "At the end of the show, we have anyone who wants to come up and join us in a kickline, and every night, I hear things like, 'Thank you so much,' and 'I'm going through cancer right now and haven't wanted to get out,' and 'I just lost my husband six months ago and really needed this tonight.'
"It is such a universal topic. Somebody's always going through it," she continued. "That's the beauty of the show."
And it's not just for women, either.
"We have men that probably get drug in kicking and screaming at the beginning but by the end, they're hooting and hollering," Adams said. "I had a man say to me one time that this should be a mandaory workshop for all men. It's good learning material for men out there so they can understand what their wives are going through."
Finding Menopause has helped Adams find peace in her own life and career.
"Especially being in the industry I'm in, if you're past 50 or 65, you get put out to pasture," she said. "That's a big concern. ... I'm approaching my 50th birthday and I'm a little terrified about it, but doing this show has helped me with that.
"Not only the show, but being a cancer survivor — all of that," she continued. "It's just more empowering now. I think in that regard, we're just kind of breaking down the taboo in a way."