With musical theater, it's all about the delivery. And in Motherhood the Musical, it's about the delivery and everything after.
The show, with songs written by Sue Fabisch, a Nashville-based songwriter and mother of three (four if you count her husband, which she does), is starting to pop up regionally, after its test-runs in Nashville, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Tampa, Fla. Next up is Fort Worth, with a three-week run at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center, starting Wednesday.
The 90-minute show features four characters at various stages of motherhood, including one who is pregnant with her first child. For Fabisch, that's where it all started. She was a singer in New York doing the cabaret circuit, and when she was pregnant with her first child, she wrote a song called It's All in the Delivery.
Then to pursue her love of songwriting and to escape the craziness of New York, she and the family moved to Nashville 10 years ago.
"Every songwriting class I took, every teacher said the same thing: 'Write about what you know,'" Fabisch says. "That way it comes from the purest place, and you have the best chance of writing a great song. At that point, I had two little kids, and I started writing."
What started as a one-woman show that she would perform for friends and at Avon parties turned into this musical, which is getting compliments from mothers who see it, especially from the demographic that normally doesn't get an opportunity to make it to the theater -- mothers of young children.
"I heard a lot of people say that you can't get young mothers out of the house to see a show, it's hard to get them to buy tickets," Fabisch says. "And I agree, because we're not really giving them what they want to see. And I think this, and the reason why it was so successful in Nashville and Florida, they're saying 'Oh, it's about motherhood, about my life.' If it were a musical about Willie Mays, then they probably wouldn't bother."
The DFW show features local actresses, including Stephanie Riggs, a well-known musical theater actress, and is directed by New York-based Lisa Shriver, a graduate of Southern Methodist University. Shriver says although the show's audience is largely women and mothers, men and women who aren't moms get a kick out of it, too.
"It could come across as something that's only geared to women who are mothers," Shriver says, "but it's really a remarkably wonderful thing to share with the men in your life, because nobody does this alone."
Fabisch, who wrote dozens of songs for the show but cut back to 18 for the musical (she's also had a hit song on Radio Disney, performed by Hannah Montana's Emily Osment), agrees.
"This sort of thing speaks to [mothers] and they're going to laugh about the craziness of motherhood," she says. "But at the end of the musical, we bring it all together, and they're running home and kissing their kids while they're sleeping. Motherhood is hard, but it's the best job in the world."