Hot Flashes to open at Ice House Theatre on October 29

From left to right: Susan Mathew, Karen Simpson, Lorie Pason-Gonzales, and Debra Hansen. Courtesy photo

Hot Flashes, a hilarious musical, will have audience members rolling in the aisles when it opens October 29. Once a forbidden topic, menopause is described in the comical, if challenging, adventures of an all-women band who age before your eyes from 40 to 70.

Director Susan Mathews is adamant about acknowledging and thanking the 2010 directors of Hot Flashes, Gary Benjamin and Sylvia Tejerian Garoian for their ideas and creativity. Many of the aspects and costumes from that original production remain. Building on that solid foundation, Mathews and her talented musical director Marguerite Crownover have increased the vocal harmonies and choreography that support the presentation.

In discussing the remake of Hat Flashes, Mathews emphasized the financial needs of the Visalia Players. “Being shut down by the pandemic, the need to purchase the Ice House, and the future requirements for ADA improvements mean producing shows that generate revenue. Hot Flashes was very popular in 2010, and I hope it will be again.”

Hot Flashes is replete with original tunes and well-known favorites such as I am Woman, Memories, and In the Mood. But listen carefully, the lyrics have been changed to amuse and delight.

Mathews and Karen Simpson, part of the 2010 production, are reprising their roles as Sharon and Kate respectively. When asked about the issues of directing and being in the cast, Mathews explained, “It does cause split focus, but we have done some taping, worked in front of mirrors, and Marguerite has been my extra set of eyes when I’m on stage.”

Reprising roles can have comforts and challenges. Simpson noted, “Familiarization with the character is the easy part, but because we have more harmony and choreography it’s harder and not like the same show. I’m having to unlearn and relearn some of the songs.”

Debra Hansen is Marvella. In Hansen’s words, “She’s an aging Rock and Roll chick.” Marvella loves reminiscing about her early days on the road with a band of horny men. Hansen enjoys the Devil Menopause rendition that includes, “I’m going to mess you up bad!”

“Lori is ditsy, cheerful, and lesbian,” says Lori Pasion-Gonzales. Pasion-Gonzales loves the play noting, “it isn’t just about women aging, but aging together. Women who are independent and know who they are.”

These delightful ladies are supported by talented musicians. Crownover, in addition to being musical director, plays keyboard and portrays Jeannie. More than a bass player, Chris Haberman is also an announcer and Father O’Weissberg. Susi Youngs is on drums, and Sandy Manes holds sway on the piano.

Hot Flashes opens at the Ice House Theatre at Race and Santa Fe in Visalia at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, October 29 and runs for four weekends with evening performances at 7:30 p.m. on 10/29,10/30, 11/5, 11/6, 11/12, 11/13, 11/19, and 11/20, and matinees at 2:00 p.m. on 10/31, 11/7, 11/14, and 11/21.

To purchase tickets, visit our website at www.visaliaplayers.org, visit our Facebook page “Visalia Community Players”, or call 734-3900.

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