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, Metamorphoses is 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. A benefit showing of Metamorphoses will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, January 3; proceeds will go to Doctors Without Borders, to help with that group's relief efforts in South Asia in the wake of the tsunami disaster. The suggested donation for the performance is $50, but all donations are welcome.

Stop Kiss. Stop Kiss is about a slowly developing love affair between two women who don't, at first, know they're gay. Sara, an idealistic young teacher, has arrived in New York to take a job at an impoverished school in the Bronx. She comes to Callie's apartment because the latter has offered to take care of her cat, Caesar. As played by Hilary Blair and Elgin Kelley, both women are edgy and very charming, but the differences between the characters become more and more evident as the play progresses. So far, this is material for a gay -- though smarter and less narcissistic -- version of Sex and the City. But when the women finally kiss, on a quiet Greenwich Village street after a late-night visit to the White Horse Tavern, violence erupts. Sara is beaten into a coma; Callie is unable to protect her. This moment is the pivot around which author Diana Son has structured her entire play, but despite some harrowing scenes, Stop Kiss is at heart a comedy, held aloft by an irrepressible helium of warmth and good humor. Presented by Theatre Group through January 15 at the Phoenix Theatre, 1124 Santa Fe Drive, 303-777-3292, www.theatregroup.org. Reviewed December 23.

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