BWW Review: MOTHERHOOD THE MUSICAL Is A Heartfelt Celebration Of The Trials And Triumphs Of Moms
Lower Ossington Theatre's MOTHERHOOD THE MUSICAL is exactly what it sounds like, plus a little bit more. When a group of friends throw a surprise baby shower for a soon-to-be new mom, they end up exploring the highs and lows of motherhood, all they do for their families, and their relationship with the title 'mom.' It's not afraid to poke fun, make jokes, and get a little cheesy, but this show's got as much heart as a homecooked meal and a warm hug.
Centred on Amy (JA Marie) as she preps for motherhood, her friends Barb (Carly Hall), Brooke (Cristina Paoletta) and Tina (Kayla McSorley) give her more than just gifts during her baby shower - they give her an insider's look at what to really expect from her kids and husband once the initial magic of a newborn wears off. Numbers like 'Mommy,' 'Moms on Strike,' and the raucous 'The Kids Are Finally Asleep' are just a few of the hilarious musical moments of the show, each packed to the brim with witty one-liners and nuanced jokes.
Thankfully, MOTHERHOOD THE MUSICAL manages to balance the hilarious with the heartfelt under director Janelle Cooper. The act one number 'I'm Danny's Mom' is a love ballad about the pride a mom takes in her child, and act two's 'Now I Know' is equally powerful. This production benefits from having a powerhouse cast that take on the comedic, dance, and vocal challenges of the work with ease. Hall is the comedic queen of the show and enhances the already-funny dialogue the tired mother gets with impeccable comedic timing and physicality, but she also gives the sarcastic woman a soft side that's genuinely moving. McSorley's Tina gets the lead on several numbers, and her rich voice is well suited to the many genres sampled. She belts country, blues, ballads, and a particularly strong cabaret-inspired number about grandmother-hood with ease, always perfectly pitched and with great emotional nuance.
Paoletta is endlessly sweet as the lawyer Brooke, which is a refreshing take on the stereotype that busy, working mothers don't take time for their kids; and Paoletta never feels disingenuous either. Her 'Costco Queen' number made me long for a wander through the megastore - and I'm a person whose fight-or-flight instinct kicks in before I get out of the parking lot. However, the story is really about Amy and her journey towards being a mom; something that Marie handles subtly and effectively. She shows the initial excitement, the occasional doubt, and the underlying fear of getting it wrong with a tenderness that makes you want nothing but the best for her, and by the end, Amy's stance is something that only mothers might experience, but anyone could understand.
Set design (Michael Galloro) and costumes (Rachelle Bradley) are true-to-life, and while lighting (Mikael Kangas) stays simple during dialogue scenes, there are no wasted opportunities to go big on the musical numbers. The marquis lighting in the archway that frames the set was a great addition to give these huge numbers a larger-than-life effect, both framing the numbers as a real discussion between moms and elevating them to a stage-worthy spectacle.
As a woman with no intentions of having kids anytime soon, I had worried that I wouldn't be able to connect to the story of MOTHERHOOD THE MUSICAL. What I found instead was a story about four strong, supportive women helping each other through the difficulties of motherhood - and a handful of complaints about their kids that sounded a lot like things my mom had to deal with raising my sisters and I. MOTHERHOOD THE MUSICAL gives four different female characters a chance to come forward and tell their stories; they might not be epic, ground-breaking tales, but it doesn't matter. They're funny, touching, and powerful because they're realistic - and because each of these women are mothers.
Lower Ossington Theatre's MOTHERHOOD THE MUSICAL runs through March 8 at Lower Ossington Theatre, 100 Ossington Ave, Toronto, ON.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit https://tickets.ticketwise.com/event/motherhood-the-musical
Photo credit: Seanna Kennedy