Menopause can be funny, really

Women have come a long way since  the early 1970s when Edith Bunker went through “the change” on “All in the Family.” Menopause is no longer a hush hush experience. Heck, it’s set to music in Jeanie Linders' “Menopause the Musical.”

The show featuring four menopausal strangers who meet in a department store during a lingerie sale has run across the world since 2001. It runs Tuesday through March 28 at Gwinnett’s Performing Arts Center in Duluth.

Each character likely embodies some aspect of the inevitable phase of life most women face: mood swings, hot flashes, disorientation, cravings and even a little looniness, says Linders.

Now 61, Linders says that she knew she had a foundation for a fun play, after she experienced her first hot flash and went through menopause 10 years ago.

Q: Can you describe the four characters in the play?

A: Each woman represents every facet of womanhood. And I think basically a facet of my personality. The Professional Woman is an executive. The Soap Star is probably when you look in the mirror and see that you are no longer 25. Her looks and age obviously affect her job. The Iowa Housewife has been a housewife for 28 years and is on a path of self-discovery, as are all of these women. And the Earth Mother is the typical lost in the ‘60s kind of peace person that is inherent to a lot of women that were peaceniks back in the 1960s.

Q: How far have we come since that famous “All in the Family” episode?

A: In my mind there are a lot of people that are back in the Bunker time. I had a doctor once tell me that he learned a lot from my show. You can’t give a doctor symptoms. You tell your doctor that you have to stop the hot flashes and you’re going crazy, and he runs a test and says, “Your hormone levels are normal.”

Q: Is it fun to watch audience reaction from around the world?

A: I watch audiences laugh their heads off. I see women who have had cancer and 80-year-old women taking their walkers down the aisle to get on stage at the end of the show; watching women around the world and realizing that we are no different [from each other]. Menopause is not a disease it’s a passage of time and women come out of it ready to face the next part of their life.

If you go

"Menopause the Musical." Tuesday through March 28. Times Vary. $45. Performing Arts Center at Gwinnett Center. 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway, Duluth. 770-813-7600, www.gwinnettcenter.com. Also visit www.menopausethemusical.com