FAYETTEVILLE — Their stories were humorous, and they were poignant. Some were downright painful.
And they were told aloud with only a podium between the speakers and the crowd at the Walton Art Center’s Starr Theater Sunday afternoon (April 29).
More than a dozen moms — and one “mom to all” — read their original essays for the first local production of the nationally syndicated Listen to Your Mother show. Northwest Arkansas ranked among Austin, Chicago, San Francisco and New York City as one of 10 cities picked for shows in 2012. Cast members came from as far from Little Rock to participate; all had to audition for a spot on the show.
Listen to Your Mother was produced and directed locally by award-winning author Lela Davidson and mom blogger and Facebook addict Stephanie McCratic. The pair staged the show so that it flowed evenly between tales or hilarity and woe, not leaving the audience too long in any of the peaks and valleys.
Other cast members were Jasmine Brown, Kerri Case, Shannon Magsam, Heather Smith Davis, Jocelyn Morelli, Jill Van Trease, Angie Albright, Kyran Pittman, Gwen Rockwood, Misti Pryor, Shannon Hahn and Kelly Zega.
Net proceeds from ticket sales went to the Arkansas Visitation and Exchange Center (AVEC). The group provides children access to their parents through supervised supervision and monitored exchanges in an environment that’s safe for both parent and child.
Zega recalled through tears how her daughter, Haley, had wondered off from a walk with the girl’s grandparents in the Buffalo River wilderness and went missing for 52 hours in the early spring of 2000.
Just about the time the search for the timid kindergartner was being scaled back from a rescue to a recovery, “two grandpas on muleback were bringing our baby home out of the woods,” Zega said.
“They found her lying in a tiny heap, exhausted, hungry and dehydrated, with her little feet dangling in the river,” Zega said.
“Having her back in my world was like experiencing birth a second time.”
Kyran Pittman brought some of the biggest laughs, comparing motherhood to Broadway.
“By the way our kids head off to college, we’re show business veterans, having produced, directed and starred in such classics as ‘Christmas,’ ‘Halloween,’ ‘Birthday Parties’ ... ” Pittman said.
“Motherhood isn’t a desk job, it’s vaudeville,” she said.
Once with three kids in grade school at one time, Pittman said she spent weekends ferrying kids to birthday parties, sometimes as many as three in one day, “which thrice exceeds the quota established by the Council for Not Losing Your Freaking Mind.”
Pittman managed to avoid competing with her peers, forgoing the extravagance of their parties-turned-productions.
“We should applaud each other, not for Best in Show or showing off, but just for showing up,” she said.