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BWW Exclusive: Celebrate Mother's Day with Some Broadway Mamas!

Here at BroadwayWorld, we're recognizing everyday superheroes by bringing you the stories of some of Broadway's baby mamas this Mother's Day.

We also recognize the Mother's you don't see center stage. Whether they be actresses, directors, conductors, choreographers, dressers, book writes, stage managers, or ushers and everything and anything in between. Whether they went back to work within weeks or decided to take a few years off, each and every mother deserves to be celebrated today, and everyday.

BroadwayWorld sat down with Kerry Butler, Teneise Ellis, Ellyn Marsh, Cara Cooper, NaTasha Yvette Williams, Jessica Rush, and Katie Rose Clarke to chat all things motherhood, their biggest challenges and rewards and, of course, what advice they would give to new mothers and mothers-to-be!


Katie Rose Clarke and 10-month-old daughter Eleanor Rose.

How has your life changed since becoming a mom?

Oh my gosh. I think I've changed a lot, but I'm also still the same. Everything changes as far as your priorities, how you structure your day... I've changed in every way. on a personal level, I'm way more confident. I'm a totally different person. i love being a mom. It's changed my heart, it's changed how I approach work, it's changed how I approach work, and I feel like I'm a stronger and better person because of it. It's definitely the best thing I've ever done.

What has been the biggest MOM-ent for you? When it's really hit you that you're a mom?

There was a day when I was doing double duty with HEART OF ROCK N ROLL (HORR) and WICKED, and it was crazy and I was exhausted, and they were really trying to work with me on how to schedule rehearsals for HORR which was awesome - the creative team is really amazing. So I went to rehearsal on a day that I didn't have childcare but I needed to work on some things - we were going to do a run through of act one - and I was like, I'm not ready, I don't have childcare but I really feel like I need to be there for this run through this afternoon. They let me come in with her, and I had her strapped to me. We did scene work and rehearsed the show, and that was a really cool moment for me as far as being able to really see a practical moment of being able to do both things. You know, it's hard but that creative team and the dresser and everybody in that room were just so supportive. Everybody pulled out their phones because it was so funny when Eleanor was enjoying it and interacting. That was a really cool moment where it was just a shining example that women are strong. It's been amazing becoming a mom and seeing what my body can do, what I can handle emotionally and physically and all of that. I have this crazy respect for other moms too because it is just a massive life change.

What are some of the most rewarding and challenging aspects of being a working and sometimes stay-at-home Mom?

Oh man. Everyday feels rewarding and everyday feels challenging when you're a working Mom, and when you're a stay at home Mom.(Part about sister) There's new challenges everyday. For me, I think being a working mom is always this balance of you know, you go to work and you're expected to be at work as if you don't have a baby at home, you have to be at 100% all the time. And then you go home, and your baby expect you to be at 100% like you weren't just at work - so you're always just feeling kind of split. My husband is just amazing, by the way (the best partner in the whole wide world), and we were talking last night and I was worried about Eleanor crying - she's having moments where she cries at night and we're trying to let her figure it out - and I was really getting worried about our neighbors, like 'What are they going to think of us, just letting our baby cry all night?!'. And he was like, 'We're not going to apologize for the decisions we make as parents'. We talked through everything, and we love our daughter, we put her best interests first. I think I'm all aspects of being a Mom, whether you're a working Mom or a stay-at-home Mom, if you're taking care of your kid... you're nailing it.

What would be your advice to new or soon-to-be Moms?

That. You're nailing it. If you're putting one foot in front of the other, and your baby's good then you're doing awesome.

BWW Exclusive: Celebrate Mother's Day with Some Broadway Mamas!
Katie Rose Clarke and Eleanor

BWW Exclusive: Celebrate Mother's Day with Some Broadway Mamas!
Katie Rose Clarke and Eleanor

BWW Exclusive: Celebrate Mother's Day with Some Broadway Mamas!
Katie Rose Clarke and Eleanor


NaTasha Yvette Williams and 11-year-old twins Nile and Mackenzie.

How has your life changed since becoming a mom?

It's a constant search for babysitters. I don't get to take jobs just because I want to do the work. So it has changed in that I'm more selective with my art, but it's also given you more emotion to pull from. I think I'm more richer actress with more depth to my performances, but it's also limited me and my choice - though it's given my performances a new depth, but I'm actually limited in what I can say 'yes' to.

What has been the biggest MOM-ent for you? When it's really hit you that you're a mom?

I generally never really call out [of my show]. So when my child is sick or something, I'm having to tell my husband that he has to be there. And it's not that I don't care enough to be that. It's just a very strange thing for me where I'm constantly teaching them responsibility and teaching them that they have to work and that I'm going to make things better for all of us. So the first time that I had to take off because they were sick, that was a pretty big moment for me.

What are some of the most rewarding and challenging aspects of being a working and sometimes stay-at-home Mom?

My son still does not like to sleep all night, so one of the most challenging things is coming home late, having him with me up at two o'clock and then again at four o'clock and then having to get them up and go to school. And then there's just the time aspect. The lack of time I had because I've spent so much time away from them when I am with them, then I want to be with him, so that's been the most challenging. Managing a time so that I can prepare for the class or take an audition. Though the most rewarding thing is when I've been away and they run to the door, or run in to my bed. Or when he rubs my arm and says, 'You're so warm!', or when she says, 'You smell so good!' and I'm stinking. I haven't showered, I'm tired, I'm whatever... and they just love me. That's been the most rewarding thing. That I don't have to be a character, I don't have to sing any notes... I just have to be me and they love me.

What would be your advice to new or soon-to-be Moms?

Just be the best you can possibly be. Do the best for them, make decisions for them the best you can for them. And forgive yourself a hundred times a day because we're always like, 'I didn't do it right!' or 'what if I messed them up?' and all that. Just do like Elsa and let it go.

Nile and Mackenize, what are your favorite things about your Mom?

Nile: She's beautiful. I like to sleep in her bed.

Mackenzie: I like to make smoothies with her, with strawberry and lettuce and spinach and oranges and bananas.

BWW Exclusive: Celebrate Mother's Day with Some Broadway Mamas!
Mackenzie, NaTasha Yvette Williams, and Nile

BWW Exclusive: Celebrate Mother's Day with Some Broadway Mamas!
Mackenzie, NaTasha Yvette Williams, and Nile

BWW Exclusive: Celebrate Mother's Day with Some Broadway Mamas!
Nile, NaTasha Yvette Williams, and Mackenzie


Cara Cooper and 2-year-old son Finn and 6-year-old daughter Elin.

How has your life changed since becoming a mom?
I think the biggest change for me is that I see the world in a much different way. Anytime you see something good or something bad happened to somebody, I immediately think.. 'That's somebody's child, that's somebody's daughter, that's somebody's son'. That's kind of how I relate to the world now a lot. but from a logistical standpoint, there's just never a moment in the day that you're not thinking about something. That's what I feel the most. I said to somebody recently for mother's Day, I want to be able to turn my brain off because there's no, from the moment your eyes open till the moment they close at night, you are constantly thinking about your children's well being, their lives, all the little pieces that need to happen in order for life to function on a daily basis. And then all the bigger picture thing was, am I doing, am I raising them right? Am I exposing them to the right things? Um, and then on top of that, what do I need for me and how am I going to continue to progress in this world? Um, so yeah, your brain never shuts up.

What has been the biggest MOM-ent for you? When it's really hit you that you're a mom?

I probably going to get emotional, but our daughter [Elin] is on autism spectrum and we've had a very long journey with her. She had seizures when she was three months old. I think we were just kind of thrust into like very intense, intense parenting, and we were only three months into it, so we were very new at it. Having said that, it has made me, and throughout the journey now also having a second child, it's given me so much confidence in my decision making and advocacy skills, like really being their voice until they have one and they can fend for themselves.

What are some of the most rewarding and challenging aspects of being a working and sometimes stay-at-home Mom?

I think it's all challenging. I think that that's, um, something that probably needs to be addressed in the world at large, like being a stay at home moms really hard and being a working mom is really hard and they're hard for different reasons. I definitely lost myself a lot in that and I lost kind of my identity. But having gone to back to work that struggle is difficult in a much different way. There you literally feel like there aren't enough hours in the day to do all the things and then there's guilt involved. I think in general, biggest challenge to all of that is knowing when you need time for you and being okay with taking that time. But it's also just rewarding. It's all rewarding. It's incredible. Being a mom, and being a mom that works is, is unbelievably rewarding too.

What would be your advice to new or soon-to-be Moms?

Feel all the feelings and don't feel bad about it. You know, there's going to be moments where you're going to be like, I want to run away. This is so hard and it's okay to feel that way. You really just have to trust your instincts and trust that what you feel is okay and that your Mama gut knows what's right.

What are your favorite things you like to do with your Mom?

Finn [translated]: I like to play the cereal game and I like to watch Paw Patrol with my Mom.

BWW Exclusive: Celebrate Mother's Day with Some Broadway Mamas!
Elin, Cara Cooper, and Finn

BWW Exclusive: Celebrate Mother's Day with Some Broadway Mamas!
Elin, Cara Cooper, and Finn

BWW Exclusive: Celebrate Mother's Day with Some Broadway Mamas!
Finn, Cara Cooper, and Elin


Jessica Rush and 4-year-old daughter Elliot

How has your life changed since becoming a mom?

Oh my god. That's a massive question. It's changed in all the ways. I don't get as much sleep, number one. It's much more full that it used to be. At the time, I didn't think that was possible and I sort of felt like I knew what being a Mom would entail and that we would have this baby and she would be fun, and then we would just get back to normal life... but there's a whole new normal that happened. Elliot has grounded me in a way which I didn't know was possible, and I've just gotten to a point where I don't care about the little things anymore. There's something, someone, that matters so much more. At the end of the day, she's the basis of everything - the decisions we make, the jobs we take, everything is thought of with regard to how it will impact her life.

I tell people that you will never move through the world as carefree again as you do before you have a child. From there on out, people say you're walking around with your heart outside your body and it's true. And I also miss sleep.

What has been the biggest MOM-ent for you? When it's really hit you that you're a mom?

Well, everyone who knows me knows how much I love cheese and when I was nursing Elliot, we discovered she had a dairy allergy. The doctor had said to me that I could either cut it [dairy] out or switch to formula. I tried to give her the formula and she was just screaming, and I will never forget sitting there and saying, 'It's okay... I'm giving up cheese! It's not worth it!'. And I quit cold turkey that night until I'd finished nursing her. But my husband came home that night, knowing that day had been a rough one, with all my favorite cheeses. So, that was a big Mom moment for me to give up cheese - as little as it seems.

What are some of the most rewarding and challenging aspects of being a working and sometimes stay-at-home Mom?

I went back to work at Jersey Boys when she was five-months-old and initially it was quite interesting as I was still pumping. So, just logistically, it was difficult to figure out feedings and pumpings and what you're going to do. I was pumping, in costume, at intermission in my dressing room. But also, more than that, is the scheduling and the auditions and the babysitter coverage. Now that she's not as small anymore, the pumping and feeding logistics may over, but what I found was really hard before she started school was finding last minute coverage if an audition came up. Sometimes I could take her with me, sometimes Eric [husband] would meet and we'd switch off on the subway platform... but if you don't have that option and you need a sitter, you could be paying $60 with the probable 3-hour minimum to go to this audition to try and get a job. Though the most rewarding moments are definitely when she gets to come to work with us. When we get to take her to all these different theatres where she has all these different show families and people who love her. When the kids come to the theatre, people love having them around - and if they don't, they don't show it. I think it only enhances what we do as artists, and I think having them around only benefits that. And in turn, Elliot gets to know all these different types of people and feel loved and cared for and supported.

What would be your advice to new or soon-to-be Moms?

Appreciate leaving the house with just a purse right now and any time you want to. Try to focus on the positive, and remember the days are long but the years are short. I remember sitting there thinking, 'Remember this moment. Remember what this feels like'. Because you're gonna forget, and it'll never happen again. You'll think, 'Oh, I could never forget this'... but you have to be so present in the moment. You'll realize that those memories are there, but you won't feel that same way you did. Try to really consciously take things in so that when you recall them, they're there. Ask for whatever help you need. Ask for it. And know that it will pass. And try to really enjoy the newborn phase because, as much as I hate to tell you, it's going to be the easiest.

What are your favorite things about your Mom?

Elliot: I love Mom because she's kind and she's also brave. And I like that she listens to me.

BWW Exclusive: Celebrate Mother's Day with Some Broadway Mamas!
Elliot and Jessica Rush

BWW Exclusive: Celebrate Mother's Day with Some Broadway Mamas!
Elliot and Jessica Rush

BWW Exclusive: Celebrate Mother's Day with Some Broadway Mamas!
Elliot and Jessica Rush


Teneise Ellis and 4-year-old daughter Jordan.

How has your life changed since becoming a mom?

My life change really. It's just a become a lot more selfless. I think about her and everyone else's wellbeing more so than my own. Everything I do really is for her. The choices I make, the way I speak in front of her. Leading by example is pretty much priority for me now because I know that there's a little person watching me.

What has been the biggest MOM-ent for you? When it's really hit you that you're a mom?

I think it's the days that Jordan looks at me and says 'thank you'. And she says, 'you're always by my side'. You know, she's a sweet little girl and sometimes I feel like I'm not capable or I'm not doing something right or screwing it up really. And she reminds me daily when she was like, you're always by my side or you work hard. Thank you. And just to see her be so gracious for the things that I do, I'm like, okay, so I am doing a good job at this mom thing and she doesn't notice the stress and notice the worry as much as I think she does.

What are some of the most rewarding and challenging aspects of being a working and sometimes stay-at-home Mom?

Working mom guilt is real. I think finding the perfect amount of balance. Initially it was easier because she wasn't in preschool, though this year she started preschool and it's been hard for me to have less hours with her. What I've learned is quality over quantity. So, you know, put the phone down, all focus is on her when she comes home from school. We read together, we play together, we work on her words that she wants to learn. Everything is just about quality versus the amount of time. And I think that really plays a huge part in the balance.

The reward is when she can see what I'm doing every day. She can be proud and I can actually show her she can have everything. That hard work does pay off. She gets to come backstage a lot and one time saw a monkey flight and she said, 'Mom, you can fly!', even when I didn't have my wings on. She said, 'You don't even need wings! You're like a superhero!'. And that just blew me away. It warms my heart.

What would be your advice to new or soon-to-be Moms?

I would say don't be afraid to choose yourself sometimes and to choose your family. You know, there's a time to say yes and a time to say no. I think as an artist, we get so caught up and making sure we're staying creative and making sure we're doing the most and getting the most opportunities out of everything. but there's nothing greater than family and nothing greater than being a parent, in my opinion.

Jordan, what are your favorite things about your Mom?

I like to play tag with my Mom, and to race!

BWW Exclusive: Celebrate Mother's Day with Some Broadway Mamas!
Teneise Ellis and Jordan

BWW Exclusive: Celebrate Mother's Day with Some Broadway Mamas!
Teneise Ellis and Jordan

BWW Exclusive: Celebrate Mother's Day with Some Broadway Mamas!
Teneise Ellis and Jordan


Ellyn Marsh and 10-year-old daughter Lola.

How has your life changed since becoming a mom?

I was just thinking about Lola turning 10 and I was just thinking about how my memory of her being an infant is so clear. I remembered the way her skin felt and I remember her face and I remember all her milestones. But at this point in my life, I can't really remember what life was before her. But you know, your body changes, your mind changes, your responsibilities and your priorities change. I think the main change is that everything becomes pretty not important. And you think of the things that you use to complain about or you hear other people without kids complain about and you just think it's just so silly because this little human being relies on me for everything.

What has been the biggest MOM-ent for you? When it's really hit you that you're a mom?

I went back to my first audition when Lola was four months old and I sat outside the room and I was petrified. My body didn't look like my body, my boobs were like something out of national geographic. I just looked and felt horrible. And I remember being so nervous, I looked at my hands and they were shaking, and then I remember thinking, "Oh, when this is over I just get to go home and play with Lola and she doesn't care how I did and she doesn't, it's going to be fun no matter what." I remember exactly what I was wearing and where I was standing and just this wave of calm came over me because it didn't matter. That that was the moment that my career kind of took a shift because my worries stopped being with my career and more about what was most important in my life. Of course I still wanted to work and perform but relinquishing that control that i always wanted somehow seemed easier knowing I had Lola waiting for me at home. And I booked that show and hour later.

What are some of the most rewarding and challenging aspects of being a working and sometimes stay-at-home Mom?

Our schedule. A broadway show schedule is grueling at best. And there are so many life events that you miss. You miss the concerts at night or you miss the parent teacher organization at school. I always tell Lola we lead an extraordinary life, but it does come at some extraordinary sacrifice. And the reward is the interesting and fascinating life my daughter gets to lead. She has be fortunate enough to grow up backstage at different Broadway theaters. She also gets to visit backstage when she sees a show. She gets to experience live theater on a level most kids (even adults) aren't able to. And that's the reward. She has been coming backstage to theaters since she could walk. Theaters have become her second home. Theater folk by nature are extremely warm and affectionate and because of that she's blossomed into this tremendously warm soul. When she meets people for the first time she generally hugs them. And I think that's mostly in part to the way the community has always embraced her from the time she was a baby. I think her confidence has stemmed from all these people she's grown up with backstage. Of course my family and extended friends as well, but seeing such a warm and friendly environment that we live and work in is all she's ever known.

What would be your advice to new or soon-to-be Moms?

I think a big lesson i head to learn is to create a village - you know, your village of people. Knowing who will come and sit with your daughter in a waiting room while you run into that audition or who will help you when your sitter is stuck on a train, things happen and having people you can count on is invaluable. But I think really being okay with leaning on people is my best advice because sometimes we feel that it's a sign of weakness if we ask for help, and I think asking for help is actually a strength because not doing it all myself has made me a better mom. I like the analogy of being on a plane when they say put your oxygen mask on yourself before helping others. So I think it's important to help and take care of yourself before you can adequately take care of another human being who needs your undivided attention at all times... for, you know, forever. And I think that that's a lesson I learned that I could have learned earlier.

BWW Exclusive: Celebrate Mother's Day with Some Broadway Mamas!
Ellyn Marsh

BWW Exclusive: Celebrate Mother's Day with Some Broadway Mamas!
Ellyn Marsh

BWW Exclusive: Celebrate Mother's Day with Some Broadway Mamas!
Ellyn Marsh and daughter Lola


Kerry Butler and daughters 7-year-old Sumaya and 13-year-old Segi.

How has your life changed since becoming a mom?

I think just scheduling things, not having really any downtime, and trying to balance a career and being a mom.

What has been the biggest MOM-ent for you? When it's really hit you that you're a mom?

I adopted both girls and they bonded instantly, so we didn't have any problems - but I remember one time holding Segi in my arms and like looking down into her eyes and it felt like our souls kind of connected and it was like a really beautiful moment that I'll always remember it.

What are some of the most rewarding and challenging aspects of being a working and sometimes stay-at-home Mom?

I think the most challenging is definitely the schedule. The schedule only having one day off a week, missing a lot of holidays and functions like that, but at the same time it's such a really, really good job for having kids because I was there during the day when they were little. I was there all the time. We could just go to the park all day long. But it is a great job. My kids love going to the shows! it's a really fun environment. We just had an Easter egg hunt at the theater and Segi helped hide Easter eggs and Sumaya was running around finding them with all the other like kids and grown ups. So that was really, really fun. I just love that. And they love theater.

What would be your advice to new or soon-to-be Moms?

I think, like that song from Baby, you can't have it all. Like I want it all, but you can't have it all. So just be okay that you can't have it all and figure out what is the most important to you. And what is most important to you will be different than somebody else. I think letting go of thinking that you can do it all is the biggest.

Sumaya and Segi, what are your favorite things about your Mom?

Segi: I like spending time with her. We like getting our nails done and going shopping.

Sumaya (via phone): I like watching movies with her and hugging her. I love that I can paint and draw with my Mom.

BWW Exclusive: Celebrate Mother's Day with Some Broadway Mamas!
Segi and Kerry Butler

BWW Exclusive: Celebrate Mother's Day with Some Broadway Mamas!
Segi and Kerry Butler

BWW Exclusive: Celebrate Mother's Day with Some Broadway Mamas!
Segi and Kerry Butler



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