Saturday, April 14, 2012

Motherhood the Musical - the Review

It is no small feat to go from having a kernel of an idea in your head to watching that idea play out in front of an electrified audience who are laughing, crying, cheering and leaving a theatre feeling happy, connected, and understood. This is exactly what Sue Fabisch did with her show Motherhood the Musical, which opened this week at the Royal George Theatre in Chicago.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll tell you up front that I’m a songwriter and that I co-wrote the song “Costco Queen” with Ms. Fabisch one afternoon several years ago on my couch in Nashville. Yes, the love of a good deal and bulk shopping can go a long way to getting those creative juices flowing, as can the hot dog and a soda for a buck fifty. These are the things that can lead a woman to sing and dance around her apartment. But that was where both my contribution to and my involvement with the show began and ended. And so, even though the show has already played successfully in Philadelphia, Atlanta, Tampa, and as far away as Australia and Scotland, this Chicago opening was the first time I had ever seen it.

Truth be told, I see a lot of Broadway shows. In the past month, I’ve seen Ghost, Jesus Christ Superstar, Once, Death of a Salesman, and Nice Work If You Can Get It. I can appreciate the seriousness and soul searching of Arthur Miller, but I can also appreciate the levity of song and dance and comedy for its own sake.

Motherhood the Musical is set at the baby shower of first-time mother-to-be Amy. Her three friends, Barb, Brooke, and Tasha, who are already experienced moms several times over, try to shed light on what’s in store for Amy in the days, weeks, and years ahead. What is revealed is a poignant and unceasingly funny look at everything from bodily changes to the joys, frustration, and complete exhaustion that is every mother’s experience. Each character brings her own particular spin to it – the working mom, the stay at home mom, the divorced single mom.

The show goes from utter hilarity to gut-wrenching emotion in the snap of a finger. For example, “Every Other Weekend,” the standout performance by Melody Betts, captures the heartache of single parenting, while “The Kids Are Finally Asleep” is a celebratory gospel anthem that will have you clapping and singing along by the time it’s over.

Whether you are young or old, whether you are a mother or have simply had one, Motherhood the Musical leaves you feeling good. And really, what more could anyone ask for?

Friday, April 6, 2012

In Search Easter and Passover blog

Yes, blog followers, I am going from drunken debauchery to spiritual awakening and redemption. Something for everyone, that's what I always say!

It is no secret that Passover is my favorite of the Jewish holidays, partly because my childhood memories involve very large Seders filled with family, friends, food, and overwhelming feelings of love and joy. The other reason is the celebration of going from slavery to freedom, of aligning with past generations long gone and feeling a sense of timeless continuity.

Plus, there's the Ten Commandments - not the movie, but the actual ones. In my opinion, those are the only things we need to go by to live in a perfect world. Case in point: If we would just abide by the two about not killing and not screwing over your neighbor (I'm paraphrasing here), how different would the world look right now? Wars - gone. Economy - fixed. Healthcare - for everyone. See where I'm going with this?

So hours from now, I plan on not only enjoying my matzoh and Manischewitz, not only recounting the story of parting seas, but of envisioning a world that would be filled with people living up to the God stuff that is contained within each of us, because that is my belief - that God shows up as each one of us. And let's face it, that sounds scary, because we, in turn, must behave like we know that. And that would make us responsible for our lives, for this world, and for all that goes on in it.

This brings me to Easter and Jesus and crucifixion and resurrection. Here's where both my Jewish and Christian friends and family are thinking, huh? You, Ilene? Yes, me. And here we go.

I think there are two kinds of people - those who, if you tell them the stove is hot and they will get burned if they touch it, believe you, and those who have to touch the stove and get scalded in order to know.

For example, we all know that we should love one another, forgive one another, help one another. We know many things that we don't embody on a daily basis. We know we have potential that is not fully realized. What we don't know is what humanity looks like when those things are fully realized. We don't know what it looks like to love those who are most unlike us. Or to forgive those whose hands we would die at. Or to help when it is inconvenient and a sacrifice. These are things we do not see the embodiment of today. And that's where Jesus comes in. He didn't hang out with those who were like him. Instead he embodied the fullness of human potential. He taught by example what unconditional love and forgiveness looked like. He knew his life had a purpose beyond the physical world, and he was committed to living out that purpose. And that, my friends, took courage.

In the end, it was fear, and ignorance, and hatred and betrayal that crucified Jesus. And these are the very things jeopardizing and destroying our world today. We crucify ourselves and each other in both small and large ways every day. And we know we are called and set upon this earth for more than that. It is not an act of foolishness to stand up for love and peace and healing. It is an act of bravery. And if we are to be the healers of any ills, then it is for us to say, as Jesus did on the cross, "It is finished."

So in the spirit of resurrection - not necessarily resurrection of body, but rather of our soul's purpose, I ask you: what would you say "It is finished." about? I have been thinking about this for the past few days now, because I think it is a powerful force for change.

I want to say, "It is finished." to lack, to limiting beliefs about what is possible, to the idea that one person doesn't have a powerful voice. It is finished.
I want to say, "It is finished." to living from a place of fear, and of weakness, and of doubt. It is finished.
I want to say, "It is finished." to any image I have carried of myself that doesn't honor the power and love of God that lives in each of us. It is finished.

And as for resurrection, I want to resurrect the idea that love is more powerful than fear, that light takes away the power of darkness in the world, and that truth not only sets us free, but enables us to empower others to be their best selves, too.

Whatever your belief system, I hope it uplifts you, inspires you, empowers you to live a life that is love-filled, joy-filled, and leaves this mortal world in some way better for having been here.

Here's wishing you a sweet Pesach and a Happy Easter! Thanks for stopping by. Peace and Blessings to you always.