On Sunday, the cast and crew of the NYC production of Listen to Your Mother gathered at the Manhattan Movement and Arts Center for a final rehearsal. We hadn’t met in over a month and the excitement and wonder had been building since we last met and connected in a small theater on the Upper West Side back in February. We had been communicating on a private Facebook page since we came together and you could sense the anticipation of our meeting virtually well before we came together again. I think we were all walking on air all the way to the theater on Sunday. It was a reunion for many
As soon as I started to work on this show, I felt a renewal of spirit inside my entire being. Something awoke inside me that had been dormant and dying to get out. I haven’t felt as inspired and challenged in a very long time to help bring this production to the NYC stage. Now I want to produce a Broadway show. That is actually not a lie.
But back to the group. When we first started planning, the Producer, Director and I would meet in Upper West Side cafes and slip in conference calls between childcare and work. We talked about the casting process and we wondered who would come to audition for our show.
Auditions came and around 70 amazing women entered the room and read from their hearts. I heard voices of women of all ages, races and religions, and every piece reflected a time in my life or a stage of life that I wanted to know more about. They talked about infertility, broken hearts, bringing children into the world, raising an autistic child, coping with elderly parents and so much more that struck a cord. The three of us shook our head in wonder, praying that we were making the right decisions about our cast. When we sent our rejections to the auditioners we didn’t select, we felt the pain of many of the women who came to audition which we shared. We wanted to cast everyone. Everyone had something to say and they all said it so well.
Fast forward back to this past Sunday, when our final cast walked into the MMAC Theater precisely at 2:30pm. We all felt a spark as soon as entered the theater. The group of women, chosen for being great writers and true talents, had come from all over the Tri State to read that day back in February when we first rehearsed. Our first rehearsal was a cold reading, just so that we could hear how everyone’s voices meshed and for everyone to meet each other. But I don’t think even then that they knew what this experience would mean to them as time moved on.
Amy, our wonderful Director, got the cast doing a few warm-up exercises and they all found a place in the room to prepare. Some were visibly nervous, but there was an unbelievable amount of support in the room and a sense of camaraderie which carried them all through their shining moments on stage. Everyone gave each member of the cast their divided attention and absorbed the words that jumped off pages of the binder that held all the readings on the music stand.
This time they each get a chance to get up on stage and share their voice and speak from the heart and tell the world about one part of their life. I think they are truly grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this, just as I do. This is a group of much gratitude.
There are so many amazing women in this production, you have to read about each one of them to understand who they are and why they are so incredible: Amy Wilson, René Syler, Alysia Reiner, Abby Sher, Cynthia Bastidas, Deborah Goldstein, Estelle Sobel Erasmus, Eve Lederman, Howard Margulies, Ilana Wiles, Jonny Schremmer, Kate Mayer, Kathy Curto, Kirsten Piccini, Patty Chang Anker, Una LaMarche, Betsy Cadel and I am missing someone who has inspired me to no end during this experience: Varda Steinhardt. She is a force and has worked tirelessly on this show. I will link to her piece when it’s up.
Sunday is coming and I can’t wait to see the show on stage. I think that the voices of the cast will reverberate in my mind for years to come. My mother will be there, my sisters, my husband and brother-in-law and a few of my closest friends. They will share my proud moment with me and applaud these amazing women bearing their hearts and soul on stage.
For more information, head to the site but tickets are sold out and that is not likely to change.