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?