The idea was born over a pot of tea one evening six years ago.
Good friends Anne Clarkson and Camille Soper had just been part of Common Ground, a musical production written, rehearsed and staged in a month by two local 20-year-olds, Joey Clarkson and Breanne Larson. The experience was so much fun, that the two decided to write a musical of their own.
“Camille and I met during that production, and we had a blast. We thought, ‘How hard can it be to write an original musical?’ After all, we have age and experience on our sides. Little did we know…,” said Clarkson.
“It took a little longer than we originally anticipated,” smiles Soper.
Two years, and many pots of tea later they had a script. The two had decided to use menopause as their theme.
“Menopause is one of those taboo subjects that no one seems to talk about, and often women feel isolated in their experiences because of the stigma,” said Clarkson. “Everyone gets older, and every woman will go through “the Change.” It affects not only the woman, but those around her as well and if we can educate in an entertaining way it will benefit everyone.”
With a cast of six accomplished actors, Michelle Sinclair, Shelley Kvisle, Chandra McFayden, Karae White, Roberta LaCroix and Bernice Blonarwitz, the show centres on a group of five women who are locked in a fitness centre during a power outage.
With nothing but conversation to occupy their time, the women bond over shared menopausal experiences.
Liberally interspersed with original lyrics set to familiar tunes, the musical touches on hot flashes, empty nests, loss, new beginnings, but most of all, sisterhood.
“The best therapy in the world is to get together with a great bunch of women and laugh,” said White, who plays comically naive empty nester, Peggy, in the show.
“Every rehearsal has been about learning, loving our differences, and laughing. So grateful to be able to share the laughter with our audiences.”
First introduced to standing room only as readings in 2014, Clarkson and Soper quickly realized that the musical would have to be fully staged. 2015 found a sold-out show at the Stan Hagen Theatre and seven shows in the Nanaimo Fringe. This past March 5HW enjoyed another sold-out show for the Women’s Business Network fundraiser.
“No matter who you are, you will find a woman you relate to in our cast. It may be your mother, your wife, your sister or yourself,” said Clarkson. “ There isn’t a whole lot you can do about menopause. It’s going to happen sooner or later. You can cry about it or you can laugh about it and we chose to laugh.”
5 Hot Women, the Joys of Menopause is playing on Mothers’ Day, Sunday May 8, 2:30 at the Stan Hagen Theatre in Courtenay. Tickets are $15 and are available at Beltone Hearing or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org