By Sam Van Schie
As long as people keep having babies, Mom’s the Word will have an audience.
The wildly successful musical comedy, penned by six Vancouver mothers thrown together in a women’s theatre workshop 18 years ago, has toured four continents and been seen by over a million people in multiple languages.
The reason for the success? “We were just really honest,” explains writer-actor Jill Daum. “At the time we wrote it, there was nothing like it. There weren’t blogs or reality shows. You could find how-tos about parenting, but nothing about the emotional experience. Nothing that would say ‘what do you do if you feel like you’ve made a total, complete mistake?’”
The original show was a tell-all about the women’s anxieties of giving birth and raising children. It was followed by Mom’s the Word 2: Unhinged, about life with teenagers. Then came Mom’s the Word: Remixed, which premiered in 2009, combining material from the previous two.
Now the moms are back with an extended version of Remixed opening at the Belfry tonight (Aug. 4). With their children leaving home, the moms have wrapped up their stories of parenting.
“We keep saying the next show we write will be called ‘It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Breaks a Hip,’” jokes Daum, who will experience her first
empty nest when her youngest leaves for university this September.
She continues to be amazed by the success of the show, particularly in Australia where it toured for 10 years and hospital pamphlets for new parents include quotes from the show.
“It was something we wrote babes in arm, bedragled and breastfeeding, thinking it was just going to be for a three-day festival,” Daum says. “Now it’s [sometimes] performed by actors we’ve never met.”
She says her children have accepted that their lives are on display all over the world — for the most part.
“My daughter flipped out when I wrote about her getting her first period,” Daum recalls. “It was awful. She cried and shut herself in her bedroom and wouldn’t speak to me.”
Daum remembers pleading with her daughter to read the whole scene and sliding the script under her door to look at. She swore to cut the bit if she didn’t like it, which, Daum admits “was a total lie because it was already in the script.”
Graciously, her daughter let her go ahead.
“I think we imagine these are totally embarrassing things that only happen to us and our family, but they actually happen to other people and that’s validating,” she says. “The success of this show, it shows how universal these experiences are.” M
Mom’s the Word: Remixed
runs until Aug. 21 at Belfry Theatre (1291 Gladstone).
Tuesdays to Saturdays at 8 p.m with weekend and Wednesday matinees.
Tickets are $23 to $38, with discounts for students. Order online at tickets.belfry.bc.ca or call 250-385-6815.
By Sam Van Schie