Listen To Your Mother has come and gone, and as I continue to read all the recaps and peruse all the photographs, I envy the cast members in the cities waiting anxiously to perform knowing what lies ahead for them. Break all your legs!! …or something.
I’d love a do-over. I’d do it again not because I would have spray blasted that rogue chunk of hair into place so that it wouldn’t hang right down the middle of my forehead like some sort of tribal face painting stripe. And I wouldn’t do it again because I tripped over my words. I didn’t. I’d do it again because it was all over in a flash; too quick to savor.
I’d do it again because the cast and crew didn’t have the benefit of getting to know each other over the course of countless rehearsals and a season of performances. We all met twice to run through our pieces and then arrived at the JCC a few hours before show time for a sound check and primping. After our first run through, there were sparks of forming friendships but most of us skipped out of there as soon as our session ended because we had places to go or children to mind (and I do mean mind in both senses of the word).
Maybe it was the nerves that brought us together like soldiers heading to the front, or maybe it was a product of having free time in a small space to do nothing else but yammer on. It could be that like an obdurate lid on a jar, we had loosened it enough in our previous rehearsals to successfully twist it wide open on that day. Whatever it was, we were connecting. But it seemed as though we were only getting started, and I’d do it again just to get more of them.
I wish I could have been seated in the audience watching everyone laugh or gasp or sob (or gag in the case of my reading). I couldn’t wait to break it down with my people after the show. We talked about their favorite pieces and favorite outfits and how blown away they were by the quality of the entire production. I filled in the gaps providing details about the cast and crew that only made my guests love everyone that much more.
Gabriella’s two sisters came in from Queens. Maria and Lina. These are two women who have become family to me as much as my own siblings. Gabriella is the youngest of the three, and her older sisters took care of her like mothers. They looked out for her while their parents, Calogero and Rosa, worked full time. Their parents spoke very little English having emigrated from Sicily in their early 40s with their daughters, aged 11, 8 and 5 at the time. Maria and Lina became her unofficial guardians, as their parents literally did not have the words to do the job in this English-speaking country. Gabriella was the first in her family to graduate from college and she’d tell you that she couldn’t have done so without the support of her sisters. That afternoon they honored me with their loving support.
Gabriella stole the spotlight in the best possible way promoting the event cross-platform, coordinating the caravan of Jersey friends and presenting me with a luscious bouquet of deep pink peonies after the show. She laughed uproariously even though she’s heard me practice one or two…or seventeen times and recorded my piece, arms stretched up high and without shame (or concern for people behind her). Maria and Lina sat by her side, and I could hear the three of them laughing the loudest and clapping the longest. I was thrilled to have them in the audience, and thanks to the gorgeous pieces delivered by our amazing cast, they loved every minute of it.
|See them laughing? WHEW!|
“Every time you do something like this, you gotta tell us! We’re gonna be theyah!!” they said like kids getting off a roller coaster shouting, “Again! Again!” I was so proud of everyone’s performance and proud of all the people who brought the show to life and proud of my friends who are the most loyal, loving people a girl could ever have and I was really proud of me. Yup. I won’t pussyfoot around it. I did a good job, and I’m ready for more. So, if anyone’s in the neighborhood, I’m keeping my front door open and I’ll be reciting my piece in my living room every hour on the hour. BYOB.
|Renzo worked the camera from the best seat in the house.|
|Jennifer captured our souls, and our souls looked gooood!!|
|Rene (Host & Emcee) bought her sass to the mic and her beautiful realness to the dressing room. She made us feel at ease on stage, and brought out the best in all of us.|
|All I have to say is "cookie jar" to my friends, and they start sniveling. All I have to do is think of Patty, and I start smiling. She's good people, and my friends know that when I say that about someone, it's the emmis. (That's Yiddish for truth.)|
|Howard is a mensch in every way whose piece about his complicated mother resonated all too well. (Mensch is the Yiddish way of describing a gentleman - someone you'd take home to meet your mother.)|
|Ilana made us laugh in the face of sacrifice and reluctantly agree that kids are worth all the tsuris. (That would be aggravation in ... you guessed it ... Yiddish.)|
|We could actually smell and taste Kathy's delicious reading, and we all quietly wished for an Italian mother - at least at dinner time.|
|Estelle put our hopes and dreams for our daughters into a blue Tiffany box and gifted it to all of us.|
|Abby & Alysia showed us how the pros do it packing an emotional ride into 5 minutes. Alysia also brought goodies and taught us how to dry our hands efficiently with one sheet of paper towel.|
|Eve's quiet zingers kept us laughing while she spoke the truth about the challenges of mother/daughter relationships.|
|Una inspired us to compose our own list of don'ts for our children so that they may never suffer the unfortunate choices we all did. Our lists, however, were not nearly as hilarious.|
|Kate struck a chord with all the parents who had let children leave the nest, and we all made a mental note to hug our kids until their eyes popped out when we got home.|
|Cynthia's reading evoked audible sobs and was so moving that the audience almost didn't notice how hot she is. Almost.|
|Kirsten. Miss Congeniality who endeared herself to anyone with a beating heart. To see motherhood through her eyes was like parenting on ecstasy...from what I hear.|
|Jonny's piece was our finale and rightly so as she artfully read the battle cry of all moms whose younger, judgy selves had no idea that this parenting gig could be so good.|
|My rogue chunk of hair with Holly(Associate Producer) - my sister from another mister who loves easily and is loved easily in return.|
|Betsy (Associate Producer). A mighty force in a wee package who is a creative catalyst and networker extraordinaire.|
|Ann. Founder of this Mother-Loving Cult who pours some sweet kool-aid!|
HERE is where you can get all of the bios and site links. Have a look-see, why doncha?