The Herald sits down with Mark Zimmerman as he prepares to bring his Laugh Out Loud tour to Newfoundland and Labrador beginning September 19.
Mark Zimmerman has a grand sense of humour. He’d have to, considering the work this fella’s into.
“I’m Menopause Mark. I know everything there is to know about menopause,” he opens in what begins perhaps one of the most entertaining talks of 2018. As the producer of Menopause The Musical, Zimmerman says he’s been ‘intimately involved’ with not only the show, but all things menopause since first bringing the musical to Canada in 2006. The show, which centres on four women who think they have nothing in common save for a black lace bra they find at a lingerie sale, tackles menopause and its many often hysterical challenges through musical parody set to some No.1 classic hits from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.
Voted Entertainer Of The Year Las Vegas 2016, Menopause has been the longest running show in Toronto, selling out 513 consecutive shows in that city, all bragging rights for Zimmerman when it comes to being able to lay claim at being an expert on “The Change.”
“Some of the magic in the show is that years ago, for instance my mother’s generation, even though every woman goes through menopause, it wasn’t discussed. It was in the closet, as the saying goes. Over the years, as things have changed and evolved, now there’s a show that finally celebrated the change in every woman’s life. As opposed to hiding it, it came out and glorified it and wrote humour about it, and that’s a beautiful thing,” he says.
By talking about the symptoms of going through menopause and by taking a light-hearted approach, this show actually celebrates women, he says. “This show is all about celebrating women, it’s about celebrating this time in your life. Don’t be upset about it, just embracing it, because in each other we see each other, and every woman will go through it in some form or another.”
While the majority of the audience is women, and this show is a must-have as a girl’s night out, Zimmerman encourages men to come as well. “We call it ‘man’datory viewing. Men should come with their partners because they end up learning so much about what their partner is going through and they end up with a better understanding and empathy on the change of life. We’ve been responsible for saving marriages and for bringing people closer together.”
Becoming Best Friends
Speaking of bringing people closer together; this writer shares her own ‘hot flash’ story with Zimmerman who, perhaps kindly, chuckles appropriately, adding; “Funny you should share that, because before every show we ask someone from the audience to come up and tell a menopause story,” he says with a laugh.
The show’s all- Canadian cast features Janet Martin (Iowa Housewife), Sarah Strange (Earth Mother) Jayne Lewis (Soap Star) and Michelle E. White (Professional Woman).
There’s a reason why these women have no name. “So many people relate to what these women are going through and opposed to giving names, the audience can relate to each as it best fits their symptoms or what they go through. Everyone goes through the change of life differently and while these women meet by accident, by the end they become best of friends because they all have menopause in common.”
Zimmerman says while the show itself is a laugh, there’s so much more to ‘Menopause’ than that. “I’ve never been involved in anything that brings so much joy to so many people and that’s why I’m so passionate about the show. I get to witness first hand; people are screaming with laughter and joy and the energy is so incredible the actors feed off it. People come up and thank us after the show. They say their ribs hurt, their faces hurt, from laughing so much. You can’t package that. How often do you get that in life? Where people come up and thank you for the work you do.”
While Zimmerman and co. have been touring Canada, this is their first visit to this province. While initially they planned on doing six shows, that has so far expanded to 10.
The show, which opens at the Arts and Culture Centre in Stephenville on Sept. 19, will also be at Holy Heart Theatre in St. John’s (Sept. 27-28) with Arts and Culture Centre performances slated for Gander (Sept. 24-25), Grand-Falls-Windsor (two shows Sept. 22) and Corner Brook (Sept. 20-21). In addition, the show will also be staged at the East Link Events Centre in Clarenville (Sept. 26).
“The province of Newfoundland have embraced us,” Zimmerman says proudly. Speaking of pride, Zimmerman shares Menopause The Musical has partnered with women’s shelters around the island. Prior to each performance, they will be selling “Hot Flash fans” with all proceeds going to a local women’s shelter in each community; YWCA in St. John’s, in Corner Brook and Stephenville money will go to Willow House and in Gander and Grand Falls-Windsor money will be raised for Cara Transition House.
For more visit Menopause the Musical Canada on Facebook.