In each person’s life, the journey often takes unexpected twists and turns, and for Sue Fabisch these unexpected turns have led her down a fascinating road. When she left New Jersey and moved to Nashville to be a songwriter, she did not expect to write a hit musical. With productions in Atlanta, Philadelphia and several other cities, Motherhood the Musical continues to entertain packed houses.
Writing a musical is not something that Fabisch originally set out to do. She has pursued songwriting as career for most of her life. “It is so funny because I grew up right outside of New York and moved to Nashville,” she says. “I had a big pop hit and wrote a musical – something that someone doesn’t move to Nashville to do.”
Regardless of her intentions, Fabisch is extremely honored and proud of the success that the musical has found. Audiences of all ages have found a connection to the musical about the ups and downs of motherhood. Most mothers see something in the characters that they relate to. The show features a humorous and heartfelt story, which is inspired by Fabisch’s own experiences as a mother.
Like most writers, especially those who have taken a writing class or workshop, Fabisch has discovered the ease and purity in writing from personal experience. “I was taking songwriting classes, and they said to write about what you know,” she mentions. “I had two little kids and laundry to do, so I began writing songs about that.”
That advice not only led to the success of the musical, but it also landed her on the pop and country charts. The song “The Kids Are Finally Asleep” reached the top ten on the comedy charts where she was alongside artists such as Weird Al Yankovic. In addition, she had a pop hit with “I Don’t Think About It” performed by Emily Osment from Hannah Montana. The song, which she co-wrote, reached number one on Radio Disney.
Her first hit song “Mom of Constant Sorrow,” a parody of “Man of Constant Sorrow” from the movie O’ Brother Where Art Thou, received considerable airplay on country radio and video stations. She realized she was onto something and began to craft a one-woman show with parodies about motherhood.
Eventually that one-woman comedy show would become Motherhood the Musical. Drawing on her own life experiences, Fabisch has crafted a musical that women gravitate toward. Perhaps, like Fabisch herself, these women see a little bit of themselves in the characters. “Each of the characters has been me at some point in my life,” she says.
To craft the character of Amy, Fabisch looked at her own actions as a new mother. “I had a giant book of all these things,” she mentions. Similar to Amy, she had “delusions of grandeur” about how it would all be. While she is not divorced, her parents were divorced, and she used those memories to create Tasha. One character that many mothers relate to, including Fabisch, is Brooke. “I feel a bit like Brooke,” she says. “I am a working mom, and I am missing a soccer game and missing Disney on Ice.” But, the character that she most relates to at this point in her life is Barb, who has “seen it and done it all.”
Of all the songs in the musical, Fabisch has the most personal connection to “I’m Danny’s Mom,” a song she wrote 14 years ago. The song, born out pure frustration and written while she was in a traffic jam in the Lincoln Tunnel on her way to a songwriting class, continues to be one she holds dear.
“It seems to be the one that resonates the most; I think it is my first experiment about writing what you know,” she says. “I was so upset and could not get to my songwriting class in New York City.” She describes thinking “how am I going to be anything if I can’t get through.” Yet, during those moments she recalls watching a lady bug with her son, realizing how special and affirming the moment was.
For those who love the musical and hope for more, your wish may come true. “I feel a sequel coming on,” she states. “I am mulling it over.” Motherhood the Musical plays at 14th Street Playhouse through November 20. For tickets and more information, please visit the show’s website. The musical stars Ingrid Cole, Mary Kathryn Kaye, Jewel Lucien and Lisa Manuli. Feel free to download “The Kids Are Finally Asleep” courtesy of Sue Fabisch.
By Kenny Norton