Mothers on Broadway

Broadway is not always kind to mothers, but Mother always makes an impression. On Mothers Day, let us recall the season just ended: Jack’s Mother in “Into The Woods” urged her doltish son to get out there and sell Milky White the cow, which is past its prime: “Son, we’ve no time to sit and dither, while her withers wither with her.” Bad Cinderella’s Stepmother in “Bad Cinderella” tells her to “wither away with this rotting house for all I care.” Kimberly’s mom in “Kimberly Akimbo” is the one who gets mothered, and photographer Larry Sulton’s mother in “Pictures from Home” admitted she didn’t understand why people called her son an important photographer; “I’d just like to have a couple nice pictures for the fridge.” Nora abandons her children for the fourteenth time in “A Doll’s House,” and Juicy’s mother Tedra in “Fat Ham” is not exactly the ideal picture of motherhood either, and not just because of her scantily clad dancing; after all, she’s marrying the man who killed Juicy’s father.  

It wasn’t better Off-Broadway, where in “Lucy,” motherhood was depicted as a bleak class struggle.

On the other hand, there are loving, supportive mothers in “Life of Pi” and “Prima Facie,” and interesting, complicated ones in “Summer, 1976.” and “Leopoldstadt” — one of the few times you actually see a mother with a child (as you did with an actual mother who co-starred with her infant son in Off-Off Broadway’s “Mothermotherland”) There is a wronged mother in “Sweeney Todd,” and a mourning mother in “1776.”

Two versions of the song “Mama Look Sharp” from “1776” are presented in videos below, along with eight other Broadway songs. Katie Boeck sings and Sandra Mae Frank signs “Mamma Who Bore Me” from Spring Awakening; Carol Woods sings “When You’re Good To Mama” from Chicago; the cast of “Mamma Mia” sings and dances to the title song; Alex Newell belts out “Mama Will Provide” from Once on This Island; Sophia Ann Caruso sing s”Dead Mom” from Beetlejuice. Also: “If Mama Was Married” from Gypsy; “Mama I’m a Big Girl Now” from Hairspray; “Don’t Tell Mama” from Cabaret.

Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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