How do you encapsulate motherhood? Something so universal, important, expansive yet can be isolating and individual. I, myself, have been on the Mommy train for almost 7 years and have produced “Lady H” and “The Viking Princess”, both adorable with their red locks and big personalities. They are smart, creative and well-behaved “in public”. The package comes with the emotions, the tantrums, poop, sleepless nights, bath time becoming the monsoon season and the refusal to eat spinach. Now let’s take this and make a musical.
Friday night I scooped up one of my mommy friends and embarked on an adventure into midtown Atlanta to see “Motherhood the musical: the good, the bad… and the laundry”. Entering the 14th Street Playhouse, we were immersed in a mommy friendly environment complete with an Avon lady, diaper cake, Costco raffles, nibbles and of course wine!
Upon entering the house, singable music was already playing, 50s to Paul Simon to Abba. Humming from the start I was in a festive mood before the play even began. My guest and I tried to figure out what, or if, there was a trend to the tunes. Was there a defined timeline or genre? We deduced that it was just a selection to make us smile and sing.
Women of all walks of life entered the room. All ages, races and about 15 men as well. The producer came out and acknowledged different groups. They even gave prizes away to expecting moms, grandmas and great grandmas. Hey, what about us still in the trenches up to our elbows in dish water and laundry? Maybe you thought we wouldn’t come since we are still engaged in all that is wonderful, disgusting and annoying about children. Well, we probably should have been home tucking the little monsters in.
Now on to the show… The premise consists of four neighborhood mothers coming to celebrate a new baby. Yes, it was a baby shower. Amy played by Lisa Manuli (who, incidentally was in one of my favorite shows ever, “Bat Boy”, seen with one of my favorite people ever), is the very excited expectant mother-to-be. She sings about how wonderful motherhood is going to be, pulls out her endless lists in a spotless home and wallows in the delusion that her sex life won’t change after the baby comes.
The other characters, who are more seasoned in their mama roles, try to be supportive but also offer a healthy dose of reality. This keeps the audience rolling in their chairs.
The stay at home mom, Barb, played by Mary Kathryn Kaye, brings all the gross to the table. She sings about multiple children screaming mommy at her all the time, pendulous breast in “Mammeries” to the tune of Memories, and the secret about post-pregnancy leakage. She even has a tender moment when she shares her feelings about how she felt after her first was born in “I’m Danny’s Mom.”
Single Mom, Tasha, played by Jewel Lucien, has the voice with the most depth. She kept us laughing with songs about being sexy in a minivan. She empowers us with the “Baby Weight Blues”, and the fact that she is done with dieting. She brings it home with an emotional “Every Other Weekend”, where daddy gets to be the hero every other week and she gets to be just mommy. I have to say, the show is worth it for Lucien’s voice but she was also able to bring a tear to my eye.
Last but definitely not least, is the very funny working mom, Brooke, played by Ingrid Cole. She is the stereotypical, over committed, full-time working mom with multiple kids. The super mom. She told tales of orgasmic Costco trips, in what I call “The Shopping Cart Ballet” and got to the nitty-gritty about sex after children. She was funny, a little dirty and told a great story. I have to tell ya, her voice was pretty amazing too.
As the story unfolds, the action is punctuated by phone calls from Amy’s mother. The highlight of the night is when she makes a brief appearance. The soon-to-be grandma is played by Manuli herself and she croons it out like an old New Yorker in “Grannyland”. I loved it! It was such a bright and funny characterization of an over excited meddling mom gearing up for the next phase of her life.
This is a fun show. Universal to the point of sometimes being predictable, but no one cares because we all want to know that we are not alone.
If you are a mom, have a mom, know a mom or played one on TV, come out and see this delightful show. “Motherhood the Musical” is playing at the 14th Street Playhouse now and through Nov. 20, 2011.
The Movement In Stillness – “First Breath” by Travis Magee
“First Breath”, a new exhibition of photography by Travis Magee
The Frieda and Roy Furman Gallery
Film Society of Lincoln Center
There are these moments among skilled choreography and seasoned performances where you lose yourself. If you happen to be experiencing this, you will most probably hear a gasp or a groan. There is no language adequate to tell the tale later because they affect you in a primal, visceral way. These moments transcend language and are too intimate to describe. To those of you who don’t frequent the many exquisite dance events happening around the world today… this is the reason to see dance live! The bitter sweet dichotomy can perpetuate a frustration, that the experiences can’t REALLY be translated to anyone who wasn’t at the dance performances, sharing the adventure. These feelings lead to the question, “How do we bottle this?”
Dearly Departures: “A Long Way… A Longer Distance Call”
The Lucky Penny has become a cornerstone of Atlanta’s cutting edge dance and technology. Dearly Departures: A new dance by Blake Beckham and her impeccable motley crew of technicians and performers, at Georgia Tech’s DramaTech Theater, have created yet another night of artistic excellence
The little black box theatre, more of a trapezoidal space is reminiscent of the old train stations lined with a long illuminated bench Stage Left, an “Old Skool” telephone booth Stage Right and a Split Flap display board hanging above. The experience begins with a Rolodex scrolling sound as the Split Flap illustrates very slow, movie style, credits. This sets a mellow tone, allowing the audience to hunker down in our seats and get comfortable. The lights dim then flicker off, in a “cool” and unusual manner, foreshadowing the unexpected and poetic experience to come.
The clickety clack of the display is overtaken by ambient music and lights go up on dancer Alisa Mitten. She smoothly makes her way around with long relaxed movements, allowing her fingertips to initiate her locomotion. As we watch, the Split Flap is feeding us contemplative ideas to ponder as the action unfolds.
“Away… Way back… Go… Go… Go back.” And a repeated mantra of “Begin again” & “Begin & End.”
T. Lang: A Woman Searching
The raw space at the Goat Farm is set up with four see through scrims hanging from the ceiling, situated in a square, to separate the performers from the audience. Seats are arranged in the round, meaning all the way “a round” where the action was about to take place. The first question of the evening is to figure out which side of the room we want to experience this evening from. Obviously, there is no right or wrong… just questions.
On June 7th, I found myself asking a lot of questions at the World premiere of T. Lang Dance Company’s performance of Post Up. The cast of nine extraordinary women were uniformly exposed in white bras and cherry red leggings. The uniformity brought to mind a complex woman or many women in a similar situation, perhaps battered or in a prison. An inquiry later enhanced by zig-zagged projections on the fabric we were looking through. The tastefully sparse costumes highlighted the performers’ beauty and I was reminded of how majestic women are, in all iterations, with different curves, hair lengths, textures and hues of skin.
The tone in this screened in cage was desperate, sad and played with themes of struggle and vulnerability but through it all a feminine strength became apparent. Not only through the athleticism of these prodigious artistic athletes but in an instinctual comradery that naturally exists between woman, especially at times of crisis.
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