Musical 'Mom!'shines a spotlight on motherhood

  • Article by: LIZ ROLFSMEIER , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 19, 2014 - 2:00 PM

Excerpts from ‘Mom!’, a comedy/drama, did well enough two years ago that the Chameleon Theatre Circle is staging the full-length musical.

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Left to right, Jessica Lynn, Dorothy Owen, Reba Clamp, Marlo Miller, Lisa Diesslin, and Kasey Scarpello form the cast.

Photo: Photo courtesy of Daniel K. McDermott,

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If you’re still searching for a Mother’s Day gift, Chameleon Theatre Circle has an idea.

Its production of “Mom! A New Musical” opens Friday at the Burnsville Performing Arts Center’s Black Box Theatre and closes, appropriately, on Mother’s Day.

The comedy-drama stars six women and presents motherhood in a flurry of songs and scenes, snapshots of different mothers at different moments in life. Two years ago, after excerpts from the musical gained best-of-show cred during Chameleon’s new play festival, the theater company decided to produce a full-length version.

“We always hope to find gems in the new play festival,” said producer Daniel Li. “The response to it was really amazing. That authenticity really resonated. Chances are, you either have been through this or you have neighbors and friends who have.”

Reba Clamp, of Minneapolis, opens the show as a woman in labor. By the end, it circles back to her final monologue, “Peed on a Stick,” which depicts an anxious woman, who has just embarked on a new career, waiting for the results of a pregnancy test. “She logically knows it’s not time to have a baby,” Clamp said, “but she really, really wants one.”

In between are vignettes — like one about a snarky soccer mom, or one with a pregnant woman thrown by a sonogram that reveals a boy and not the girl she has so carefully prepared for — and songs like “Hot Mama Blues,” which deals with the downward spiral of a woman’s sex life after having kids. Jessica Lynn, of Burnsville, who performs in the show, loves that particular number.

“My husband calls our newborn Godzilla, because she’s done to our sex life what Godzilla did to Tokyo,” said Lynn, the mother of an 8-month-old.

The show also includes more serious scenes, like a monologue about taking a child to his first funeral. “As a parent, that’s one of the things I dread,” said the show’s director, Brad Donaldson. “That’s going to be heartbreaking.”

“It’s very real,” Clamp said of the production. “It doesn’t glamorize motherhood at all. It kind of shows you the [reality] and the grit of being of mom.” She added, “It’s a terrifying preview.”

Still, Clamp, at 25 the “baby of the cast,” said this show may change her mind about never wanting children. “This show has had some real nice moments that make me consider,” she said, “maybe it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.”

She said she particularly likes the last song, about “the vast, unconditional love” mothers have for their kids.

“It’s really an exploration of what it’s like to be a mom,” Lynn said. “Even though motherhood can be really hard and trying at times, it’s worth it.”

The cast is working collaboratively with writers Judy Freed, Sari Miller and Randi Wolfe on the new production. “To find an original musical that’s just getting its legs, it’s an exciting process,” Donaldson said.

The actors said they are enjoying having first run of the show. “It’s been really, really fun to bring these characters to life and put a little bit of yourself with it,” Clamp said. “And not have some Broadway cast recording stuck in your head that you can’t get rid of. You’re not trying to out-sing Bernadette Peters.”

Clamp said of the high-energy play, which runs just over an hour: “It moves. It’s crazy. It’s a carousel.”

“It’s really an emotional roller coaster,” she said, “and it flies by so fast. We’re all running our butts off.”

Sounds a bit like motherhood.

Liz Rolfsmeier is a Twin Cities freelance writer.

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