Encore

Menopause The Musical.Menopause The Musical is as much a phenomenon as a piece of theater. The plot is so fragile that even the cliche "whisper-thin" doesn't describe it. Four women -- no, four types -- meet at a lingerie sale at Bloomingdale's: Power Woman, Soap Star, Earth Mother and Iowa Housewife. They begin by bickering but discover that they have hot flashes, memory lapses and mood swings in common. They then proceed to sing parodies of iconic baby boomer songs. "Chain of Fools" becomes "Change, Change, Change"; the opening line of "Heat Wave" transforms into "I'm having a hot flash"; and, in one of the evening's most successful numbers, the women beg the doctor for Prozac to the tune of the Beach Boys' "Help Me, Rhonda." Most of the lyrics are not particularly clever, though "Good Vibrations" is put to hilarious use. For the most part, the show feels like a series of jingles advertising the possibility of a chipper menopause. The four actress-singers are all talented and give huge, vigorous performances, despite the fact that they are crudely and far too loudly miked. Presented by the New Denver Civic Theatre in an open-ended run, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 303-309-3773, www.denvercivic.com. Reviewed August 12.

Metamorphoses. Mary Zimmerman's play is a sometimes ironic and sometimes respectful take on Ovid's work of the same name. The cast assembles around a granite pool -- a miracle of design and engineering at the Avenue Theater -- that can be anything from a backyard pool to the Greeks' dangerous wine-dark sea, a medium for death, birth, baptism and transformation. Actors act out the myths or narrate them, sometimes addressing the audience, sometimes each other. The gods they portray are pretty much like the rest of us, vain or large-spirited, compassionate or cruel. Zimmerman may deserve all the praise she's earned for Metamorphoses, but the most powerful scenes rely on the words of Ovid and poet Rainer Maria Rilke. Still, Metamorphosesis a seductive combination of lighthearted pleasure and resonant, powerful theme. Presented by the Avenue Theater, through January 2, 417 East 17th Avenue, 303-321-5925, www.avenuetheater.com. Reviewed June 17.

The 1940s Radio Hour. Set in the basement studio of a small radio station in New York City, The 1940s Radio Hour is a sequence of well-known and well-loved songs from an era when America was fighting a just war and patriotism was innocent. The songs are glued together by jokes, fragments of plot, and commercials for things like soap and refrigerators. Shannan Steele's near-orgasm over an Eskimo Pie is particularly funny, as is Duane Black's rendition of a laxative commercial. Although the talky sections are the least interesting parts of the play, the singing is so nice, the songs so fine and the musicians in the band so accomplished that the evening is a pleasure. Presented by the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities through December 26, 6901 Wadsworth Boulevard, Arvada, 720-898-7200, www.arvadacenter.org. Reviewed December 9.

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