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'Motherhood the Musical' nurses the laughs

From left, Jayne Trinette, Angela Bond, Juliana Black and Becca McCoy star in Motherhood: The Musical at the Jaeb Theater in the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa.

ROB HARRIS | Special to the Times

From left, Jayne Trinette, Angela Bond, Juliana Black and Becca McCoy star in Motherhood: The Musical at the Jaeb Theater in the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa.

Like a coffee klatch set to music, Motherhood the Musical has all the well-trod gripes and blessings of motherhood set in a musical baby shower.

From the producers of Menopause: The Musical, which has enjoyed a long run around the world for tapping into everywoman experiences, this one seems aimed at the same, "We've all been there," funny bone.

Most of the songs are original, even if the material they cover isn't. There's shopping at Costco, the joy of epidurals (Good Drugs set to the tune of Good Love), minivans, baby weight blues, stretch marks, sagging breasts, hemorrhoids and leaking when you sneeze. Ah, good times. And the songs did indeed bring roars of recognition from the audience in the small theater.

The music comes from Nashville-based songwriter and mom Sue Fabisch, who has a knack for both the absurd and the touching. It's those unexpected moments of depth that give the show some heft.

Her songs are served well by the performers. The story is set at a baby shower for starry-eyed Amy, played by the adorable Juliana Black, who also plays a cameo as her own nagging mother. And the party is filled with archetypes. There's Brooke, played comically by Becca McCoy as the hyperactive attorney and mom juggling her schedule down to the nanosecond. Angela Bond gives a more nuanced performance than you usually see in her stay-at-home mom character, Barb. She blends funny quips ("I child-proofed my house — but the kids got back in") with tender and heartfelt songs like I'm Danny's Mom, a real weeper.

The rafters were shaking whenever Jayne Trinette, as single mom Tasha, belted out a righteous tune. The highlight of the show was her heartbreaking divorce dirge Every Other Weekend, about the empty house when the kids are visiting their dad.

Call it a cliche, but I saw myself in every character at some point in my life. I was that shopaholic, parenting-book obsessed new mom. I was that carpooling cynic who was defensive about stepping out of the working world. I am that time-juggling working mom now, and I've had the same realization of what my own mother was trying to tell me about the ache of seeing kids grow up and set off on their own.

So if nothing else, the show is cathartic. The four bring it all home with the gospel-laced Hallelujah to The Kids are Finally Asleep, tempered with the bittersweet When the Kids Are Grown.

That wrapped things up nicely with genuine laughs and relatable observations on the job that never ends.

. FAST FACTS

"Motherhood:

The Musical"

Playing at the Jaeb Theater in the Straz Center for the Performing Arts through July 10. Shows are 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. $42. 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. (813) 229-7827. strazcenter.org.

'Motherhood the Musical' nurses the laughs 06/15/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 15, 2011 10:29pm]

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