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Change of life makes for great date night
Ingrid Cole, center, performs as Earth Mother in "Menopause the Musical," now playing in Atlanta. Others in the play include, from left, Mary Kathryn Kaye as Iowa Housewife, Lynna Schmidt as Soap Star and Valerie Payton as Professional Woman.

cole audio

Ingrid Cole talks about moving to Gainesville and meeting her singing partner Michelle Martin.

Gainesville resident Ingrid Cole has found her niche as Earth Mother in "Menopause the Musical."

She moved to the area about six years ago from South Florida, and since 2005 has perfected the role as the hippy-type mother figure in the revolutionary production.

"Menopause" runs through April 20 at The 14th Street Playhouse in Atlanta.

Today, "Menopause" has taken stages across the country and the world by storm, creating the perfect destination for a "girls’ night out" and giving women the feeling of empowerment.

Although it started on the grassroots, it’s morphed into a movement and now supports a nonprofit foundation underwritten by sales of the show’s merchandise.

We spoke with Cole, whose next show is tonight at 8 p.m., about being an icon to this theater movement.

Question: Tell us a little bit about your character?

Answer: I play the role of the Earth Mother. There are four roles, and the writer tried to represent a bit of you in every character. But I play the hippie from the ’60s, and I’m kind of the mother of the group. And I’m always telling people, "It’s OK, it’s alright, just breathe." And I really like that character. I can relate to her; it’s very natural for me because I’m a liberal, feminist woman myself, so, you know, I can relate.

Q: Was there anything in your own personality you had to tweak to be Earth Mother?

A: To be honest, this particular role was pretty easy for me. I don’t want that to sound conceited or anything. I’m a mom, and I think that has a lot to do with it. Us moms just have that instinct that other people don’t have, so it was really easy for me to relate to it as far as that. She talks about living in the ’60s but I was born in the ’70s, so I can’t really relate to that. But you think of Mama Cass or something like that.

Q: Have you done the role before?

A: I started in 2005 in Atlanta, and I’ve been doing it ever since. I’ve been on tour with the show here and we went all across the country, and then when we reopened here I wanted to come home and work from home. I’m from Fort Lauderdale, (Fla.); I was in Fort Lauderdale for 30 years.

Q: How did you get into performing once you moved here?

A: I’ve always been a performer, a singer or an actor. So when I moved up here I tried to find some church gigs and things like that. I also substitute teach. I sing parties, I sing jazz and standards.

I sing with a girl in town, her name is Michelle Martin. She and I met about 10 years ago in South Florida. She was doing a show upstairs and I was doing a show downstairs. There was a bar people would go to and we think we hung out one night.

So I move here and I start church shopping, and I finally land at First Presbyterian in Gainesville, and she sings in the choir. And someone said, "Oh, you’re an actor? Michelle’s an actor." So that summer we decided to put on a cabaret show.

She is so good, one of the best sopranos I’ve ever heard. We met in the choir, and we’ve been like best buddies ever since.Q: So, we can also catch you in the church choir?A: I sing in the choir but because of my schedule, I can’t sing in the choir right now.

Q: What’s your overall impression of the show?

A: It’s extremely empowering. Women come to the show feeling fat and depressed and alone, because they’re going through this change and they’re having hot flashes and having mood swings. And we have people coming up to us crying after the show saying, "Oh my God, I thought I was the only one!"

We’ll get like someone in a wheelchair saying, "I’m coming up and dancing with you after the show." You realize you’re not crazy, you’re not going through this alone. It’s empowering for women. It’s best to laugh at yourself. It’s the best medicine.

Q: But is it good for date night?

A: On Friday and Saturday nights we call it "date night" because we see the husbands out there a lot.

Men love it because they get it. They see their wives going through it. And then we have the men bring back their parents, (saying) "Mom, you gotta see this!"

On stage you have four professional actors with a live band — it’s the best entertainment in town. You’re going to get a superior performance and it’s totally freeing. It’s wonderful.

And you think, my wife’s not going crazy. This is something she gets to go through.

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