Put the Blame on Mom

1987- "Narnia" at Brundage Park Playhouse, NJ

1987- “Narnia” at Brundage Park Playhouse, NJ

This is entirely my mother’s fault.

For Mother’s Day I went digging through some old albums and posted some pictures on Facebook of my mom and me doing theater back when I was a kid.  It got me thinking about how much I owe to her for getting me started (or how much I should blame her, depending on your point of view)

My parents met and fell in love playing Kim and Hugo in their high school production of “Bye Bye Birdie” which LITERALLY makes me a child of musical theater.   After college, Mom became a teacher and dropped any showbiz aspirations to raise her kids.  When I was eight, we moved from Byfield, MA to Randolph, NJ and I did not adjust particularly well.  I was a skinny, shy, queeny bookworm and I was miserable.   I consoled myself by reading “The Chronicles of Narnia”on an endless loop with little success.

1995- "Oliver" (Mom always got the glamorous roles) Brundage Park Playhouse, NJ

1995- “Oliver” (Mom always got the glamorous roles) Brundage Park Playhouse, NJ

One afternoon, my mom noticed that the local community theater was doing a production of “The Magician’s Nephew” and we went to the matinee.  I was spellbound by the entire experience but mostly at the fact that there were two kids my age on the stage.  I remember thinking, “I know this story, I could do that!”

I told my mom after the show and she looked to see if there were any upcoming shows.  She explained the process of auditioning and shy, bookwormish me began to panic.  Maybe I couldn’t do this.  “We’ll do it together” she said.   And we did.  We were both cast in a mixed up retelling of Hansel & Gretel called “The Bad Children”.  I played Hansel and my mom played……my mom.  I was hooked instantly and the following year my dream came true.  The theater was presenting the musical version of “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” which I’d read a million times and knew backwards and forwards.  I got the part of Edmund and mom was there onstage with me for that too.

Over the next ten years I did every show at that little community theater that I could and at least once a year mom was up there with me.  It was our time together away from my dad and brother and we gossiped about cast members, griped about the director and ran lines in the car.  I look back on that time shared with mom now and I’m amazed at how fortunate I was to share the stage with her.   Since then my parents have never missed a show I’ve been in or directed and mom’s become quite the critic when they go see shows in the New York.  (“It’s a good production of a bad play” is her new favorite catchphrase)

How did you get started?  Is there a special person or event that introduced you to theater?  Do you have an embarrassing picture of you in a butterfly costume in the school play?  Send your story or your picture to us and we’ll post it on the blog!

1989- "Our Town"  Mom as Mrs. Soames.  Thanks Mom.

1989- “Our Town” Mom as Mrs. Soames. Thanks Mom.

Mom and Dad are moving to Delaware in June and I talked to her about their new home.
“Oh the town is very cute and there’s a golf course so your father will be thrilled.”
“How ‘bout you, Mom?  Anything for you?” I asked.
It got very quiet for a moment.
“Oh well, there IS a little community theater down here so y’know, we’ll see…..”

About jjstagesource

Jeremy Johnson is the Member Services Mananger at StageSource and has been since graduating Emerson College in 2000. He has also worked as a freelance director throughout New England at companies including Gloucester Stage, Foothills Theatre, Stoneham Theatre, The Theater Offensive, Mill 6 and Boston Directors' Lab. He's worked backstage at "Blue Man Group" and onstage at "Shear Madness". His production of "Speech & Debate" at the Lyric Stage Company of Boston won the 2009 Elliot Norton Award for Best Production for a Mid-Size Company. He has also taught at The Cambridge School of Weston, Beaver Country Day School, Gann Academy, The Winsor School and Walnut Hill School for the Arts.
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4 Responses to Put the Blame on Mom

  1. Stephanie Clayman says:

    You, and your mom, are very lucky. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Oh, my goodness, that’s my story, too! From building a theatre in our attic when I was about 5 years old, to getting her back into theatre when I was a teenager (after she took a 30 year hiatus to raise 6 kids). We were in numerous shows together. She went on to pursue a professional career, then dragged ME back into theatre after a 31 year hiatus raising 5 kids. Unfortunately, after running lines with me and reveling in the fact that I’d gotten back into it. She died just a few days short of actually seeing me on stage again. It is a forever source of sadness and grief for me, but i do thank her that she re-awakened this in me. Had she not, I may not have ever made the effort to find out I still loved it.

  3. Elaine Bakke says:

    From Moms everywhere – thank you for this tribute to “motherhood”.
    From your Mom’s best friend – thank you for acknowledging her wonderfulness!

  4. Ruth Contreras says:

    What a great acknowledgment for your Mom. She has always had the gift of making everyone around her matter. I will miss your Mom and Dad when they move but have fond memories of time spent together.

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