Musical about Motherhood Holds Nothing Back, Now on the Toronto Stage
Seven and a half years ago my life changed forever when we welcomed our son into the world and I entered the world of Motherhood. Many of those changes have been wonderful, others less so. Some of the changes have been stickier than I thought possible. Motherhood: The Musical, currently playing at Lower Ossington Theatre, takes the institution of motherhood to the stage with no holds barred: the good, the bad, and the messy.
Three women plan a surprise shower for their friend Amy, a first-time mom. The three seasoned moms, Brooke, Barb and Tina, each have at least two kids and they are partaking in the time-honoured tradition of freaking the pregnant woman out regarding what motherhood has in store.
Brooke is a high-powered lawyer and mother of two. Barb is a harried stay at home mom of five. Tina is juggling 3 kids, work, a divorce, and Weight Watchers. Amy (and her mom) just can’t wait for all the delights motherhood has in store, like someone calling her “mommy” for the first time.
As the narrative unfolds, there’s a lot that most moms can relate to. There is a fun song about being cool in former days, but finally giving up and getting a minivan to chauffeur the brood. I have one kid and we certainly don’t keep a minivan in downtown Toronto, but the description of the inside of the vehicle was 100% accurate.
Something about the score puts me in mind of 1950’s soda shops, with girls in poodle skirts and boys in bow ties. It could be the emphasis on tight 4-part harmonies that are easy on the ear. Most of the musical numbers are solos, with the other performers sometimes providing back-up. The songs span a range of genres, including a bluesy number about being an excited grandma and a poignant ballad about the simple, everyday joys of being a mom.
While I could certainly relate to the never-ending laundry and the excitement you feel deep down inside when your kid finally goes to sleep, not all of the jokes landed. As a woman married to and co-parenting with a woman, some of the well-worn tropes about heterosexual marriage did not resonate for me. I don’t think my wife has ever feigned sleep to beg off involvement in childcare.
Much of the humour would also make more sense to people with a very upper middle-class budget for parenting. For example, I could not really relate to buying every high-end product on the market for our newborn because we simply couldn’t have afforded that. We relied heavily on gifts and gently used items passed on by friends. That being said, I could definitely relate to accumulating far more stuff than the baby was ever going to need.
This production features some strong musical performances, excellent physical comedy, and authentic storytelling. I especially enjoyed the singer in the role of Tina. She had robust vocals with consistent technique throughout an impressive range. She also demonstrates fine character acting and singing when she steps into the role of the overzealous grandma who intends to spoil the baby rotten in the aforementioned memorable blues number.
The production certainly doesn’t shy away from the gritty aspects of motherhood. There are numbers about urinary incontinence, sore nipples, and saggy boobs. My companion, who has been a mom for two and a half months, could definitely relate to Amy, who has the baby and transitions into the overwhelmed, but ecstatic sleeplessness of new mother by the end of the show. I could certainly relate to the friends’ delivery room advice to “take the epidural” and many other laugh-out-loud moments.
All in all, I think Motherhood: The Musical does a good and funny job of finding the common themes that all women who have birthed and raised kids can identify with. Definitely a win for girls’ night out or hanging with your own mom.
- Motherhood: The Musical is playing until March 8, 2020 at Lower Ossington Theatre (100 Ossington Avenue)
- Showtimes are 7:30 PM on March 6, 7 & 8, 2020.
- Tickets prices range from $54.99-59.99. Regular admission: $59.99, Friends 4-pack: $54.99
- Tickets are available online.
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