On Stage

Capsule reviews of current area theater presentations.

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Melinda and Melinda Cedar Lee Theatre
Menopause the Musical -- Everybody enjoys musicals dealing with energetic young people on the brink of conquering the world. But what about the people in the audience: the nearsighted, overweight, and wrinkled denizens of middle age, who rarely see their own physiological mysteries put into song? For them, there is Menopause the Musical, a hoot of a show written by Jeanie Linders. It's a foot-stomping 90-minute revival meeting for women who've had to deal with The Change while also trying to maintain their careers and family relationships. Menopause is frequently repetitious, even teetering on the brink of tiresome, but the energetic cast of four and spirited direction by Patty Bender and Kathryn Conte maintain the flow, so to speak. All women with a few decades on them -- even those who only use "menopause" as an excuse to get out of going to football games -- will probably get a stiff neck from nodding in agreement and a tender side from all the laughter. Through May 30 at Playhouse Square Center's 14th Street Theatre, 2037 East 14th St., 216-241-6000. -- Christine Howey

On the Town -- Every generation, it's the same: We send young people off to fight in hostile lands, then bring them back to civilization for short respites so they can hit a big city and release some of that "I ain't dead yet!" tension. The same was true back in 1944, when folks back home were exhausted by four years of warfare and hungry for a frolic at the theater. The perfect answer was delivered by On the Town. In Beck Center's version of this challenging show, the many bright spots are dimmed by a strangely enervating pace, slipshod set design, and thin musical palette. The slim story is constructed around three sailors -- Gabey, Chip, and Ozzie -- who hit the pier at 6 a.m. with one full day in New York to themselves. It's all intended to be a frivolous romp, but many of the jokes either haven't aged well or aren't delivered with the proper crispness and snap. As for the music, it's a bear to play and sing. Beck Center's 13-member orchestra is maybe a third the size it needs to be to do justice to Leonard Bernstein's score, and it spins out a few times. Through April 10 at Beck Center, 17801 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, 216-521-2540. -- Howey

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