ORIGINALLY POSTED: March 6, 2010 by Las Vegas Black Image Magazine
Five years ago, Skye Dee Miles arrived in Las Vegas from Oakland, Calif., with only $500 in her pocket. The Missouri native’s immediate goal: audition for shows on the famed Las Vegas Strip.
“The show ‘Menopause’ was the first show I auditioned for when I arrived in Las Vegas,” Miles recently told Black Image. “And I remember saying, ‘I don’t know what menopause is.’ ”
As a young plus-size woman, Miles was a bit surprised to be called back after that initial audition. She has since turned her winning personality into a long-running “Menopause” role, representing the corporate success story. “All of the women in the stage musical represent different female personalities,” explained Miles. “We all meet in the Bloomingdale’s department store and start talking about our experiences in getting older. Even though the show deals with menopause issues, it is really about change and accepting your life.”
With the production having traveled as far as Africa, Miles believes it contains something for everyone. “The show has simple messages that all people can relate to,” she said. “A lot of men love the show as well. We sing parodies of popular songs, such as Aretha Franklin’s ‘Chain of Fools’ — (it is called) ‘Change of Life’ in the show. We take songs from the late 1950s, ’60s and ’70s and change the lyrics to interpret the play, but the beats are the same.”
Given its ambitions — to celebrate the universality of the female experience — “Menopause” is frequently seen by audiences as something akin to a movement for empowerment. Now in its fifth year in the Silver State, Miles says its powerful message has frequently acted as a spiritual balm for uneasy souls. “We often have cancer survivors and women who are dealing with divorce in the audience,” she said. “They come backstage sometimes just to say thank you for identifying with them. The show identifies with real women. Actually, when I auditioned for the show, you had to be at least a size 10. Whatever people are going through, they come to the show and we make them find humor in it.”
As she reflected on a time when African-American performers were restricted from even entering many of the properties on the Strip, Miles recalls being filled with emotion prior to her first performance. “At the first dress rehearsal for the show, I remember feeling very sensitive and saying to myself, ‘I am getting ready to perform on a Las Vegas stage!’ Where people like Sammy Davis Jr. and others had to enter from the back door … to perform their shows on the stage, and then had to leave the property because of the color of their skin,” said Miles. “Wow! That was big for me, and I am very thankful to have my opportunity. But I am very much aware that there are still not many opportunities to perform on the … Strip for African-American entertainers. We are no longer in the Las Vegas lounges, and I realize we still have a ways to go.”
As for personal aspirations, Miles looks forward to further expressing herself as a writer. Future career moves might be dictated by her need, as an artist, to sometimes defy conventional wisdom.
“My dream is to one day get a tour bus and go city-to-city and just musically jam,” said Miles. “Singing rock and the blues and really being able to connect with people with my vision and my creativity. You have to be versatile in this business, not letting people put you in a box. My father always tells me, ‘Don’t let other people be your destiny.’ You can’t let people decide who you are going to be.”