As audience members walk into the theater, tunes such as ABBA’s “Mamma Mia” and Amy Grant’s “Baby Baby” offer a sneak peek at the upbeat music they can look forward to in Motherhood the Musical. The show, produced by GFour Productions, also behind the hit Menopause the Musical, offers 90 uninterrupted minutes of song and dance about joys and frustrations that come with motherhood.
Written by Sue Fabisch, the musical occurs during a surprise baby shower for expectant mother Amy (Lisa Manuli) thrown by her neighborhood friends Barb (Mary Kathryn Kaye), Brooke (Ingrid Cole) and Tasha (Jewel Lucien). Early in the show Amy asks, “Is it going to hurt?” Barb quickly responds, “What, the delivery or the next 18 years?” Her remark serves as just one example of Fabisch’s quick wit, which keeps the audience roaring in laughter. After that exchange Barb (the stay-at-home mom), Brooke (the working mother) and Tasha (the single parent) begin to discuss their highs and lows of being moms, offering warnings and words of encouragement to the excited, but nervous, Amy.
Overall, the cast is faultless and plays perfectly off one another. Several numbers specifically show off the vocal and comedic talents of the ensemble. As Barb, Kaye evokes big laughs as she delivers a diatribe on the daily hassles of a mother in the song “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy.” Describing how her character went from driving a stylish car to a minivan, Lucien wows the crowd with her soulful vocal chops in “Minivan.” In a number confessing Brooke’s compulsive buying habits, Cole dazzles in the high-energy “Costco Queen” where she carts out a colorful array of bulk-packaged items. Manuli gives an impressive solo number as Amy’s grandmother in “Grannyland,” which offers a look at the perks of being a grandmother.
In addition to the show’s comedic moments, several numbers offer inspiring glimpses into the rewards and heartaches of being a mother. Appearing at first to be the most frustrated of the group, Barb shares how the “spotlight always shines” on her because she’s “Danny’s mom” in “I’m Danny’s Mom.” Likewise, Tasha recounts the difficulties of spending the weekend alone when her children visit their father in “Every Other Weekend.” The raw emotion, sentiment and tears that Kaye and Lucien bring to these songs is moving.
Although not performed by a live orchestra, the music is lively and nicely complements the actresses’ voices and Lisa Shriver’s fun choreography. Michael Schweikardt’s set, consisting of Amy’s living room, magically transforms for some of the bigger dance numbers, such as “Costco Queen.”
As with Menopause the Musical, the producers know who their target audience is for Motherhood the Musical. From young mothers-to-be to great grandmothers, women of all ages will connect with the characters through the entertaining and honest songs. Nonetheless, Fabisch has created a show that is accessible to men as well. While most of the humor and sentiment of the show is geared towards those who have experienced motherhood, there are plenty of amusing moments to entertain any member of the audience. After all, everyone has a mother.
Full of energy and performed by a sensational company, Motherhood the Musical offers an enjoyable and touching look at the highly respected, but often underappreciated, job of being a mother. Playing at the 14th Street Playhouse, Motherhood the Musical runs through November 20 and tickets can be purchased through the Woodruff Arts Center. For more information about the show, please visit Motherhood the Musical’s website.
– A. Wesley