“Moms: The Musical” is a new theatrical production that will be live-streamed to the general public on July 24 at 2pm EST. Moms: The Musical was written by Kelly Surette, a mother herself, who created a musical about motherhood to discuss the topic more with the wider theater world.
The show follows the friendship of two first-time mothers and the eight-person cast represents various ethnicities and lifestyles. The show tackles everything from marriage issues to friendship challenges, career concerns to body image struggles, and examines the societal pressures placed on women.
Kelly recently discussed the show via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you discover your talent for writing and what was it about plays that most interested you?
Kelly Surette (KS): I have always had an interest in writing music. Even in my crib I would line up all my stuffed animals and imagine they were my audience. I would sing songs I would create. When I was a little older, my parents took me to see ‘Me and My Girl’ at Ivoryton Playhouse in Connecticut and even though I was so little I remember sitting there thinking “this is what I want to do.” My parents said that when we left the theater, I was singing songs, almost word for word, as I was walking down the street!
In my adult life, after attending a high school for the performing arts, I trained as a musical theater performer at The Boston Conservatory. I always had the feeling that I not only wanted to perform, but to create. Ultimately this led to writing music and here we are!
I think the reason I’m drawn to musical theater as my primary medium of expression is the tremendous opportunity it provides for unlimited creativity. I am a person that needs to be creating all the time. I’m most happy innovating, dreaming, and building something new. In musical theater, you can make new worlds, explore heightened emotions, and touch on the deepest parts of humanity in a safe, exploratory way. Possibilities are limitless for raw, unapologetic truth and that is what excites me. Musical theater provides me the opportunity to grow and develop my own truth.
MM: How did you initially break into the theater industry?
KS: I broke into the theater industry at a very early age. I was six when I was in my first show. I continued to do professional theater in New England all through my school years. I went to The Greater Hartford Academy of the Performing Arts for high school where I was nurtured to grow from child actor to theater artist.
MM: Why did you decide to create a musical about Motherhood and how long did it take to complete?
KS: I decided to create a musical about motherhood for two reasons. First, I saw an overall void in theater in the representation of women, particularly mothers. Mothers are most often the supporting role in musicals and plays. In “Moms: The Musical” they are the leads. I believe it is time for musical theater to embrace an empowered real, honest, and relatable portrayal of mothers and women. The second reason I wrote a musical about mothers was because I became a mother of two girls (Brielle, age 4 and Chelsea, age 2) and I watched my friends become mothers and I realized that ours was a story that needed to be told. The modern American mother is the heartbeat of our nation! She is underrepresented, undervalued, and overworked. However, she still pumps out an unparalleled abundance of love and joy every single day. “Moms: The Musical” is my attempt at honoring and celebrating all of the incredible women and mothers in our country who we never hear about. The mom we see in the supermarket who is desperately trying to keep her baby from crying. The mom at the playground with the perfect snacks who actually spent all morning trying to get out the door. These are the moms who deserve a musical that illuminates their struggles, courage, and brilliance.
MM: How many composers were involved with the songwriting?
KS: Just me! I wrote the book, music and lyrics for the show.
MM: Out of all the songs, which are your personal favorites?
KS: I think my favorite is a song called “What They Don’t Tell You” which is sung by the leading character, Justine. Justine is a workaholic, new mother, who doesn’t take to motherhood naturally. This song is in Act II and it’s a reflection of the difference between what society tells us motherhood is going to be like and the reality. The song includes the lyrics “that you’re not good enough, not good enough, not good enough, I’m sorry I’m not good enough for you” which every mother can relate to at some point in their motherhood journey and is a powerful moment of honesty for this character.
MM: How personal is the story compared to your own experiences as a mother?
KS: The story is personal. I’ve had people say that the two leading women, Justine and Mia, are the two mothers I was to my daughters. Justine is who I was as a mother to my older daughter, Breille, Mia is who I was to my younger daughter, Chelsea. I’m not sure if that is true, but I do know that I used all of my personal experiences as a mother to enhance the musical. For example, in the show there is a “mom group chat” that consists of three diverse, comedic mothers. This is based on my own personal “mom group chat” I’ve been a part of since I had my daughters. I have laughed and cried with these women and we are a support system to each other. This camaraderie and sisterhood is strongly represented in the show. (Big shout out to Emily and Amber!)
MM: What’s your favorite part of the play and why?
KS: Another hard question! I think my favorite part of the musical is the end of Act I. I can’t tell you what happens – you’re going to have to watch and see, but it’s pretty shocking. I love that we leave the audience in total suspense and then send them off to intermission!
MM: Was it a challenge to plan for live theater during a lingering pandemic?
KS: Absolutely! We have had to take many precautions. We needed to limit our time together in person, making sure we were in a space large enough for social distancing. Our director became a Covid Safety Compliance Officer. The good news, however, is we’re back, which is so exciting and emotional. When we held our in-person callbacks the entire creative team had a moment of tears when we realized we were together making theater come alive again.
MM: What is some of the best feedback you’ve gotten about this piece thus far?
KS: The most meaningful feedback we received about the piece is that moms are seeing themselves in the characters and seeing themselves represented on the stage. It was important to cast a group of women who were not only age appropriate, but actors who looked like real moms. We want every mother out there to be able to identify with at least one of the women on stage and it seems to be working. Mothers are giving us the feedback that they feel seen and heard by this musical and that’s the best feedback we could possibly receive.
MM: What other projects are you working on right now and what themes might you like to explore in future works?
KS: I’ve got lots of musicals cooking, but you’ll have to stay tuned to find out what they are! I will, however, tell you that I am committed to working on stories that empower and give a voice to women. Whatever I do next will, in some form, explore this theme.
MM: What are your ultimate goals for the future and is there anything else that you would like to mention?
KS: My ultimate goal for the future is to keep telling relevant stories through musical theater that elevate and bring attention to important issues and underrepresented voices. I hope to keep making musicals with poignant messaging that give audience members the opportunity to laugh and cry and to find catharsis in their own life because the musical made them think and feel. I think it’s important to mention that the “Moms: The Musical” – An Investor Workshop is available to the general public to stream for only $5.00 and all proceeds will be donated to an incredible 501(c)3 organization called Moms for Moms: NYC. This is a nonprofit dedicated to helping single mothers in New York City. The workshop will be performed at 2:00 PM EST on July 24 and tickets can be purchased by visiting our website at www.suretteandhall.com/moms-the-musical. Also, you can follow the musical on social media at: Instagram: @moms.themusical, Twitter:[email protected], Facebook: @momsmusical, Tiktok: @moms.themusical