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Motherhood: The Musical
CATEGORY : MUSICAL
by Sue Fabisch

COMPANY : G-Four Productions [WEBSITE]
VENUE : 14th Street Playhouse [WEBSITE]
ID# 4178

SHOWING : September 30, 2011 - November 13, 2011

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Having a baby is just the beginning…motherhood is for life. In the original play Motherhood the Musical®, four women share their insights, challenges and pleasures at a baby shower. In 90 minutes of fun, you’ll get a peek into the powerful friendship of Amy, a soon-to-be first-time mom; Brooke, a hard-working lawyer; Barb, a stressed-out mother of five; and Tasha, a single mom seeking to balance work, her family and her divorce.
Motherhood the Musical is a funny, yet loving look at being a mom at any age. It’s climbing the emotional mountain only to find that there’s laundry at the top. It’s discovering how powerful your love can be and how quickly they grow up. It’s helping them find their way and not losing yours. It’s about laughing and crying, craziness and calm, smiles and tears . . . and all before breakfast.


CAST & CREW LIST
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REVIEWS

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Surprisingly Good
by Dedalus
Friday, December 2, 2011
4.5
As any Mother can tell you, the only constant about Motherhood is surprise. Surprise at the pendulum hormonal outbursts of pregnancy, surprise at emotional (and physical) extremes of birth, surprise at the workload, surprise at the loveload. As the “Golden Girls” paraphrase puts it, “If Motherhood were easy, Fathers would be able to do it.”

So, it should be no surprise that “Motherhood: The Musical,” despite some of the lowest expectations I’ve had going into a show in years, is a surprisingly good, surprisingly entertaining piece of work.

I had to shudder when I first heard of this show. Billed as “In the tradition of “Menopause,” “Respect,” and “Food Fight” (and from the same producers),” it had nothing of appeal for me. I girded by mind for a lame collection of song parodies and spot-em-a-mile-away punchlines. These shows always struck me as low on creativity and humor, and high on “push the same buttons” caricatures.

Right away, “Motherhood” leaves all the others in the dust, as it is short on parodies (only two, both fairly decent) and high on originality (20 original new songs written for the show). The set up and structure is a lot less contrived than all the others – a young woman is about to give birth, and all her “experienced mother” friends gather to throw her a shower. Like with the other shows of this “genre,” each of the women are a certain “type,” but unlike the others, they have dimensions beyond those “types.” Amy (a glowing Lisa Manuli) is the starry-eyed new mother, slightly nervous about what’s to come, but determined to be the best Mom possible (despite her own Mother’s constant barrage of bad-advice phone messages). Tasha (Jewel Lucien) is the single Mom, Brooke (Ingrid Cole) is the working Mom, and Barb (Mary Kathryn Kaye) is the “Serial” Mom (“I must like it, I keep doing it”). All have surprisingly real back stories and interactions, and, despite their differences, all are believable as close friends.

What I also liked about this show is how so many of the scenes captured the truly ambivalent emotional mixes of the topic. Rather than concentrating on the excesses and woes of Motherhood, the show “mixes it up.” A goofy upbeat number about driving a mini-van is followed by a sincere love song to a new child (“I’m Danny’s Mom”). A wonderful parody about epidurals (“Good Drugs” to the Young Rascal’s “Good Lov’n’”) is followed by the post-birth “Now I Know,” a song similar in theme and mood to “Baby’s” “The Story Goes On.”

More important, though, I found myself laughing and smiling through almost the entire play. Jokes were consistently inconsistent, ranging from broad slapstick, to whimsical self-deprecation, to rueful observation, to exasperated outburst. It doesn’t hurt that this is a wonderful cast and creative team, with nary a sour note, missed light cue, or crackly microphone evident. Writer Sue Fabish and Music Director Johnny Rodgers (who also wrote many of the melodies and supervised the recording of the background tracks) have fashioned a lovely little valentine (with acid) fully realized by director and choreographer Lisa Shriver. Michael Schweikardt’s suburban living room set easily transforms into a delivery room as well as “fantasy” locales for many of the numbers. I particularly liked how the pristine not-a-dust-speck-in-sight living room is turned into a frantic mess only one week after the arrival of Amy’s baby.

And, just as icing on the cake, this production does NOT include the traditional “(and, to my mind, irritating) Let’s-Show-Our-Solidarity-By-Dancing-With-the-Cast finale of the earlier shows, but it does end on its own terms with a more effecting audience-participation gag that’s actually funnier and more effective.

So, does this mean, I’m becoming a fan of this particular “genre,” even to the point of revisiting the earlier shows? Heck No! Perhaps I responded so favorably this time because Fatherhood isn’t as removed from Motherhood as womenfolk imagine, and I could identify with all the frustrations and aggravations and joys of this particular group of people. Perhaps motherhood is a broader topic with more opportunities for original humor than, say, menopause, or weight gain. Perhaps the use of actual creativity and depth of character is a better choice than lame parody and stereotype.

Whatever the reason, I liked this show a lot, and I’m willing to recommend it to any mothers (or fathers) who want an excuse for putting off laundry, housecleaning, yard work, and homework-checking for a quick 90 minutes.

Now, please excuse me while I go tuck my daughter into bed.

-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)


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