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Cherie Price helps audience pause, ponder serious subject

Portland actress says 'Menopause' has its share of laughs


by: COURTESY OF MARKETING INSPIRATIONS - Portland resident Cherie Price has traveled extensively for her role in Menopause The Musical, but the shows upcoming run at Winningstad Theatre will allow her to stay home.Cherie Price admits that she has gone through “The Change,” and it didn’t really affect her.

But, she thoroughly enjoys playing the character Soap Star in the long-running “Menopause The Musical,” which returns to Portland after an eight-year absence, March 25 to April 13 at Winningstad Theatre.

“I’ve not really had much of an issue,” says Price, who opts not to reveal her age, instead falling back on one of her character Soap Star’s lines from the musical: “ ‘I barely cross 30’ is what I say in the show. You can make up your own mind when you see the show. ... I’m past 40. My character is really involved in how old she is.”

Price, a Portland resident for the most part since 1981, estimates that she has appeared in more than 1,000 “Menopause” shows throughout the years. The musical was staged for 10 months at the Winningstad in 2006 and “I thought that would be the last of it,” she says. But, she was lured to perform in another version of “Menopause” in Denver, and then Las Vegas for nearly two years and has continued on the national tour in recent years — all the while performing as Soap Star, a

role which she has refined through age.

“I have to take part of what is me. I’m getting older,” she says. “As actors all we can take is what we know and put it into the character you’re portraying.”

She has learned how to deal with menopause, and give out some sage advice, because of her character, an aging soap star who’s threatened by the young actress in the studio.

“Just chill out. Life can be very stressful,” she says. “The more we can just chill out and deal with it on a day-to-day basis the better.

“My character is always concerned with getting older and what she looks like; what it’s going to be like when she’s fired because she’s not young and needs plastic surgery. ... You wait around long enough you’re going to get old.”

The show, which involves four middle-aged women sharing their stories of menopause in a department store, tries to steer away from any serious take on the subject of menopause. There are mothers, grandmothers, daughters, wives, girlfriends and even men who take in the show.

Price says the cast and organizers want to see smiles on their faces.

“There are people out there who are having a hard time in their lives, dealing with different things happening to their bodies,” Price says. “We get to make them laugh for 90 minutes. We get on the train and start laughing, and they start laughing. How else can you look at it?

“It affects men as much as women. ... The demographics is usually over-40 women, but we love having guys. Many times guys think it’s a girl thing. But, once they get in there, they laugh as much as women. And, a lot of men say they have ‘Manopause.’ ”

It’s a serious subject, the fact that the woman’s body goes through “The Change” and alters behavior in many instances, not to mention create chocolate binges and wrinkles.

“There are women who have to take hormones, and it disrupts their lives to the point where they have hot flashes, they’re getting upset and crying over something you don’t know why and barking at somebody for no reason, or they can’t remember anything,” she says. “It depends on the individual. Some are challenged by menopause. Some fly through it.”

Price, who’s originally from Spokane, moved to Portland in 1981 and has lived here since then, except during the “Menopause” stint in Las Vegas.

She worked in some Portland theater, doing acting and choreography (she still does), when the opportunity to be on “Menopause” came up.

“It’s amazing to have this much time in a production,” she says. “I get to meet people all over the country. We get different people involved in the cast each time. It’s never the same. I’m grateful for having this opportunity.”

She met her husband, Randy Knee, while both worked on “Angry Housewives.” He’s retired now, and he’s looking forward to his wife being home for the Winningstad run.

“I can’t wait,” she says. “It’ll be fun to be back in the Portland theater scene.”

“Menopause The Musical,” put on by GFour Productions, will be held March 25 to April 13 at Winningstad Theatre, 1111 S.W. Broadway. Tickets can be purchased at www.portland5.com or by calling 1-800-273-1530.