Saturday, January 30, 2010

La la la menopause: Group sings, laughs and prays about 'the change'

Telegram Staff Writer

Night sweats, mood swings and headaches.
Menopause is a bother.
'But it sure can be funny,' said Cheryl Morrison of Katy.
She's one of three Hot Flashes who travel the state with Minnie Pause, singing and joking about 'the change' that every woman eventually endures.
Billed as Minnie Pause and the Hot Flashes, the group's got a Feb. 6 date with First Baptist Church of Temple. The ladies will give a concert they say the town will never forget.
'We are so excited,' said Marci Gaglione of Temple. 'I hope they are as funny and uplifting as they sound because we all could really use that right now.'
Like so many others from the congregation, Ms. Gaglione is still recovering from the shock of the Jan. 19 fire that destroyed FBC's sanctuary.
'So this comes as welcome program,' Ms. Gaglione said. 'It'll be a good chance to let go a little bit and have some fun.'
Laughter won't be the only thing the Minnie Pause pals will bring. Their goal is to deliver a message of hope.
'We're hear to tell women that despite all the things they go through, the cramps and the bloating, they can still find joy,' Ms. Morrison said. 'The joy of the Lord is still there, no matter the circumstances.'
It's a serious message, one that the comedy group formed four years ago at a church retreat.
'It started out as a skit,' said Lori Tally of Katy, another Flash.
The challenge was to come up with something entertaining and meaningful.
'It was a women's retreat, so it made sense to focus on issues that were important to all of us, like menopause,' Ms. Tally said. 'After a while, the act was born, and we liked it so much that we kept on doing it. Now it's a wonderful hobby for us. We've turned it into a full-blown concert.'
The group will play its regular show, 'Joy Unplugged,' for FBC. It's a character-driven variety show that intertwines female complaints with music by taking popular tunes from the '50s, '60s and '70s and transforming them into menopause-related songs.
'Under the Boardwalk,' for example, becomes 'Under the Armpit,' as the performers croon about the menopausal woman's likelihood of developing an unsightly hair growth. And the Hot Flashes' distaste for their less attractive legs transforms the familiar song of 'You're So Vain' to a lamentation entitled 'Spider Veins.'
'This stuff is hilarious,' said Bette Puffer, the third and final Hot Flash. 'I'm new to the group. It's so much fun. Every time I come to rehearsal, I go home in tears from laughing so hard.'
Ms. Puffer joined the group about a month ago when her predecessor retired. She'll give her debut performance of the menopausal Edie, 'an apathetic but easily-influenced and obsessed-with-pink stage hog,' at the FBC concert.
'I'm very excited,' Ms. Puffer said, giggling. 'There's going to be a lot of twists with me doing this. I hope the other ladies can keep up.'
Her fellow song-mates promise that they can.
'I play the yellow-wearing Cheri, the dumb blonde poster woman for extreme menopause,' Ms. Morrison said. 'I'm the woman who has and whines every single symptom possible.
Ms. Tally's stage presence is known as Joy the Intern. In a bright green jacket, she's easy to spot.
'Joy's a little younger than everyone else. Menopause hasn't come to her yet,' Ms. Tally said. 'So she's young, vibrant and eager and perky.'
But she wants the other Flashes to accept her as one of their own.
'And they don't,' Ms. Tally said. 'I'm constantly rejected and shunned.'
But because of Joy's likeable personality, Ms. Tally said audiences become enthralled with her.
'The audience cheers for her,' Ms. Tally said. 'They root for her. They want the other girls to be nice to her.'
The woman who makes sense of aging is, of course, the one and only Minnie Pause.
Played by Marcy Talley of Katy, Mrs. Pause is the lead singer.
'And she's the voice of wisdom,' Ms. Talley said.
She's the one who gives female chaos its proper perspective and reminds the Flashes of the good in life.
Her advice carries a melody, in the songs of 'Holy Spirit,' which sounds a lot like 'Pretty Woman,' 'My God,' which is to the tune of 'My Guy.'
'They can draw audiences into happy worship,' Ms. Talley said. 'And that's a beautiful thing.'
It's what keeps Mrs. Pause and her Flashes on stage.
'Our favorite part of every show is getting to visit the women who watched us,' Ms. Morrison said. 'They come up and tell us how much they needed to laugh, and how some what the show was about helped them to see things from a different, less negative point of view.'

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