Motherhood: The Musical at Trinity

Babies and beyond
By BILL RODRIGUEZ  |  June 12, 2012

TWISTED SISTERS Lucien, Kaye, Manuli, and Ingrid Cole (replaced by Becca McCoy at Trinity).

Motherhood: The Musical was created mainly to cheer on the fact that mommies just wanna have fun. Sure, there could have been a gay or adoptive parent in the mix. Sure, there could have been acknowledgment of less trivial difficulties with mothering, such as ill-advised, doctor-convenient C-sections. But, hey, Hamlet didn't have a comical sidekick to balance the cast.

The touring show at Trinity Repertory Company through July 1 doesn't do a bad job celebrating the joys of motherhood while acknowledging some of the difficulties. Its subtitle is "The good, the bad . . . and the laundry." All of the clichés are covered (sigh), but now and then an insight does peek through. Written by Sue Fabisch, the 90-minute one-act was directed and choreographed by Lisa Shriver, with musical direction by Johnny Rodgers. They're the same folks who brought Menopause: The Musical here. (Guys, sure bet for the next one: Patriarchy: The Musical. Eh?)

There is just a cast of four women, three neighbors celebrating a little baby shower for an expectant mother with a basketball-sized baby bump. Amy (Lisa Manuli) is the mom-to-be; Barb (Mary Kathryn Kaye, gloriously expressive) is a mother of five and under all the stress that implies; Brooke (Becca McCoy) is a high-powered attorney/soccer-mom; and Tosha (Jewel Lucien) is a divorced single mom.

They hit the ground running with the funny opening song, "I'm Having a Baby." We get a basic picture of Amy's situation in its dire dimension, hemorrhoids being a typical problem. She starts off swigging a bottle of Maalox, which eventually is exchanged for an economy-size gallon jug. Early on, the ensemble joins in singing "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy," which consists largely of that insistent, whining demand, and the mood of apprehension is set.

The wisecracks keep coming. "Is it going to hurt?" asks Amy, the woman about to give birth. "The delivery? Or the next 18 years?" responds Barb, who also gets to joke that "I've child-proofed my house, but somehow they still keep getting back in." (She needs to make fun when she can. At an office party, her husband's female boss remarks, after introductions, "So you're just a stay-at-home mom.")

The messages of some of the 20 songs are pretty clear from their titles: "Baby Weight Blues," "Nothing But the Best (For My Baby)." "Not Gonna Take It Anymore" declares, "I'm not cooking, I'm not cleaning/Gonna blow up the washing machine." Some songs are poignant, covering such matters as the sweet satisfaction of taking care of a child or the sadness of seeing them only every other weekend, but more are higher-amperage, such as the raucous gospel celebration "The Kids Are Finally Asleep."

Some songs are hopelessly trite, such as the empty, sentimental "I'm Danny's Mom." One of them, "Grannyland," went for the opportunity to have pregnant Amy return on stage dressed and hunched over like the overly concerned mother who has been constantly phoning her. Such a stereotype could be funny, but the lyrics didn't raise this above being a witless sight gag.

For us guys, there is occasional "who knew?" information. An elaborate song and dance production number, "Costco Queen," involves wheeling towering shopping carts around the stage in an apparently hormone-prompted compulsion for Amy to shop till she drops.

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