Is motherhood something to be laughed at? Because, you know and I know that there are times when mothers completely lose their sense of humor. Poof, gone, lost, for a very long time. At 4am with a screaming — or giggling, wide-awake — baby. At 5pm, the witching hour, when dinner isn’t ready yet and you’re ankle deep in toddler tantrums. At the grocery store when you can’t seem to get down an aisle without screaming at your fighting children. Motherhood can be slow, endless, Chinese water torture, threatening to pull you deep, down into stewing pits of parenting despair. I’ll admit that it’s the hardest thing I have ever done.
And that’s why finding any outlet to laugh at parenting is so damn important.
And that’s where “Motherhood, The Musical” comes in.
I was asked to review this musical, now playing at the Straz Center in downtown Tampa, last week. And, since I am sucker for musicals (don’t even get me STARTED on my obsession with “Wicked”) and since I just really like the folks at the Straz, I was 100% down for some funny mom theater. Plus, I’ve seen lots of Facebook statuses raving about the show: “I laughed! I cried!” So, I was excited to check it out.
I rounded up two very deserving moms from my work to come with me and we set out for the Straz after a particularly crazy week at work.
The show was in the Jaeb Theater which is a smaller, cabaret style theater. We found our seats around a small table, surrounded by (no surprise here) many other mothers gathered for the show. The space was intimate — which meant a comfortable, more connected experience. I was impressed right away as the theater staff began the evening by reaching out to pregnant moms in the audience. They also sold pins with the profits going to autism research. And they even had cute “Motherhood, The Musical” postcards on the table which we could fill out and they would send for us if we dropped it in a mailbox in the lobby. (I sent one to my mother-in-law.) I have to say, the people who work at the Straz are just nice. They smile, they ask you how you are, they take pictures for you, they just make the whole vibe comfortable and welcoming. And, being a theater dork from way back, I think that really helps set the vibe for the show itself – so “cheers” to them…
Now, what did I think of the show itself? It was really great. Truly. But let me start with a couple negatives first.
Admittedly, they touched on a few cliches. You know, “we’re not gonna take cooking and cleaning anymore” kind of thing. The naive pregnant mom, and the “knowing”, jaded other mothers hell bent on scaring the crap out of her. Mini-vans, grocery shopping, and husbands that have very little to do with parenting at all.
However. They took these typical motherhood cliches (which are only cliches because they are common experiences, by the way) and turned them into gut-busting, musical hilarity. The women who played the four mothers in the show were FANTASTIC. I kind of want to be friends with the divorced mom and the working mom. No, really. I want to have drinks with them because they have to be that awesome in real-life. (Hey ladies, email me! I can try to be awesome too!)
Also, the lyrics and the music in the show are both excellent. The lyrics are very well written, just FUNNY. Cliche or not, the mini-van song was hysterical. They took the sagging and leaking experiences of so many mothers and made anthems out of them. Even the “no more cooking and cleaning” thing was awesome. They rocked out. And I laughed. A lot.
And so did the women around us. Seriously. Women were howling, and stomping the floor, and standing, and cheering. Clearly, this show connected with the majority of the audience.
I also cried a little. No, I did. The song about “Every Other Weekend” in which the divorced mom sang about what it is like to be alone every other weekend. And how the kids come home spoiled by their fathers and she has to be the bad guy, and how she manages… well. I totally boo-hooed and said a little thankful prayer that I don’t have to experience weekends like those.
I don’t think this is a show for the majority of husbands. (Maybe some, but certainly not mine. His eye-rolling would have annoyed the hell out of me.) And, I don’t think this is a show for women who have no interest in parenting yet. I know one woman who saw it, but who isn’t anywhere near ready for children, and she said it “scared the crap out of her”. That said, bring your mother. Bring your mom friends. Bring your pregnant daughter. Bring the moms at work and the moms on your block and the teachers of your children. I suspect they will love it.
Also, if you’re going to get hung up the cliches and parenting generalizations, just check those at the door. Relax. Have fun. Let yourself laugh. Don’t take it too seriously. This isn’t supposed to be heavy stuff or some wildly prophetic social commentary. Its fun, and very funny. And it’s obviously something many, many, MANY mothers just “get”.
Cheers to the Straz and the awesome actors who rock that show out night after night (I kind of want your life). You did a fantastic job. Thanks for reminding me to laugh at this mothering stuff and then leave me ready to get back home and hug my boys super tight. Laughing like I did that night made me take a step back, accept the good and the ugly of this motherhood thing, and simply appreciate it so much more.
Want to go see it now? Get $29 tickets to see “Motherhood, The Musical” at the Straz Center through August 28th. Use promo code TIX29. The offer ends August 12th, though! Restrictions and charges apply.