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.