Tiffanie Bridges
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Tiffanie Bridges

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"Musical hot flash has flush of appeal"

Monica Orosz
Daily Mail staff

Thursday October 25, 2007

Here's perhaps the best testimony for the broad appeal of "Menopause the Musical:" Somewhere in Indianapolis, there are 4-year-old twin sisters who love to sing songs from the show.

Their favorite: "Change, Change Change," to the tune of "Chain of Fools" and the reason they know the re-lyricized tune is because they've heard their mom, Tiffanie Bridges, singing it.

Bridges is in the touring production of "Menopause the Musical" that ends in Charleston with a five-day stop.

"They crack me up," Bridges said of her "be-boppy, identical twins."

The mother of five says her soon to be 15-year-old son isn't quite as thrilled about his mother's latest gig. Her 11-year-old son doesn't mind and her 13-year-old daughter loves to brag to her teachers that her mom is in the show.

Fact is, Bridges is pretty amazed about the whole thing herself.

The 35-year-old has way more experience as a wife, mom and a gospel singer than she does in theater, let alone singing about a life change she has yet to experience.

She was perfectly content being a big woman with a big voice -- and a gospel group that has even toured Europe -- when she was asked to try out in late 2004 by someone who had seen her in a cabaret theater production in Indianapolis.

"I had never auditioned for something like that before," she said. She gave it her best with an Aretha Franklin tune and a monologue of a poem she had written, and then headed off to Europe for a month.

"When I got back I listened to the 1,000 messages I had gotten and one was ‘I hope you're in town,' and I said, ‘Oh, well, that would have been fun.'

In January 2005, she got another call asking her to join a production of the show that would be done in Indianapolis. That was followed by a tour last fall and the current tour, which began in mid-September.

The show has been good for her both as a performer and personally, Bridges said.

"When I started doing the show, I was very heavy -- I was wearing a size 24," she said. "I've always been very healthy and physical -- my doctor would say, ‘I'm surprised you're in such great health.'

But the show is demanding and Bridges joked, "I was like, ‘We're going to be using a defribulator on me.'

So she joined Weight Watchers and dropped 40 pounds, which she's managed to keep off despite the food challenges on the road.

It's also taught her some new skills.

"When we started rehearsing, I said, ‘You mean we have to say these lines and sing...and dance...all at the same time? Well, I'll try it.."

"I love it," she says now. "I love doing this show because it's very robust."

Bridges plays one of four roles by women in the show, who meet in a Bloomingdale's dressing room, where they are shopping for lingerie and start telling tales about menopause.

Her part is of the professional woman and Bridges said though she hasn't experienced menopause, she knows all the stories, particularly from her own mother, who now lives with her family and helps with the children when Bridges is on the road.

Bridges' husband -- they met in church when they were in the sixth grade -- also is a musician, playing keyboard and organ. Their schedules require a lot of juggling.

"He plays for our church and for local bands," she said. "I sing with a choir and I am their business manager and I'm a singer for hire. So we just work it out."

Meantime, their children all are musical, too. The oldest plays drums. The older daughter plays flute, the younger son is learning piano and the twins, well "they go down in the basement and they make lots of noise with the drums and singing," she said.

Contact writer Monica Orosz at monica@dailymail.com or 348-4830.

If you go
What: “Menopause The Musical” When: 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday; 7:30 p.m. Nov. 1 and 2; 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 3 and 2 p.m. Nov. 4. Where: Charleston Civic Center Tickets: $40 Info: 342-5757 or www.ticketmaster.com

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"Sweating to the oldies"

Sweating to the oldies
Hilarious musical saluting mature women is coming to McMorran

Times Herald

The idea came to her in a flash - literally. At least that's the standard line Jeanie Linders offers for the inspiration behind Menopause The Musical: "a bottle of wine and a hot flash."

The truth, according to the show's Web site, is a bit more nuanced, involving a lifelong knack for writing song parodies; an evening at another parody show and a "heck, I can do that" realization; and, yes, a moment spent standing in front of the freezer trying to combat a hot flash.

The show has become an international hit since opening in March 2001 in a 76-seat theater in an old perfume shop in Orlando, Fla. About 9 million people in 11 countries and 100 cities have seen the musical.

Next week, that list grows to include Port Huron. The musical exploration and celebration of "The Change" is coming to McMorran Auditorium for two performances.
The first show sold out almost immediately, prompting tour organizers to schedule a second one.

The cast will perform Tuesday in Port Huron, do two shows in Saginaw, then return for a show Thursday.

"When I saw it, I was like, 'Oh my god, it's hilarious, it's so true,'" said Tiffanie Bridges, who will play the part of Professional Woman in the Port Huron shows.

The 90-minute production is set at Bloomingdale's, where four very different women commiserate and celebrate in the lingerie aisle. In addition to Bridges' straight-laced career woman, there is the free-spirit Earth Mother, the cosmopolitan Soap Star and the down-home Iowa Housewife.

The show features parodies of 25 songs, mostly from the '60s and '70s - including tunes by Aretha Franklin, The Bee Gees and The Beach Boys - addressing everything from memory loss to chocolate cravings.

Bridges first got involved in the show 2½ years ago when it came to her hometown of Indianapolis. Having started acting in community theater productions a few years earlier, she tried out and was surprised to get the part.

"I would have never believed it," she said.

In spite of her boisterous voice, "I consider myself kind of shy," she said. "I'm still a little nervous now, but it's fun, and the character suits me well."

The show ran for a year in Indianapolis. Since then, Bridges has been doing occasional tours and limited engagements. The current tour, at eight weeks, is the longest she's done to date.

Her favorite song in the show is Sign of the Times, a duet between Earth Mother and Iowa Housewife, particularly the line about "your hourglass shape is like a glass of water."

The show makes "you not feel bad about an issue that's kind of a private issue among women," Bridges said. "If you're in the middle of dinner and you start sweating like you ran a marathon, it's OK. It's something that's common. It's going to happen."

Not that Bridges knows firsthand - yet.

"I'm not quite there," she said. "I get the hot flashes, but that's because I had 1,000 kids."

More like five, including two twin daughters five years ago. Being on the road and away from them is tough, she said, but she has a good support system and her mother to look after them.

Although women always are in the majority, Bridges hears men laughing in the audience, too.

"The men need to accompany their wives," she said. "They'll not only learn something, this is the only time they'll get to laugh at any of the symptoms their wives are experiencing."

As for the ladies, "it's going to be the best girls night out they've ever seen," she said.

Contact Bill Chapin at (810) 488-7741 or bchapin@gannett.com.

- The Times Herald - Port Huron, MI 09/07/07


Use Me As You Will (Napoleon Williams & True Friends True Praise, released 2005) Composer of Title Track and lead vocalist on "I Feel Good"

I'm Ready - debut gospel project to be released 12/28/2007



Dubbed as a soul powerhouse in Indianapolis' history breaking run of the Off-Broadway hit, Menopause the Musical in 2005, Tiffanie got her start singing in a store-front pentecostal church choir in Chicago. With a rich background in gospel and jazz, she has made a career of traveling with various community choirs, groups, and touring companies of MTM, lending her uniquely soulful vocals to endear audiences all over the country. She is the proud mother of five talented children who are upcoming vocalists and musicians as well, and when she is not on the road, Tiffanie is putting the finishing touches on her debut gospel CD which will be released this winter.