Ethan Paulini, Bart, Christopher Sidoli, Wendy Watson
When you think about quintessential Moms, Carol Brady, Clair Huxtable, June Clever, Kitty Forman, and Reba Hart may come to mind. Mix those personalities with a dash of Ms. Garrett and you have the Facts of Mama and Her Boys Life!
A very moving, beautifully scripted, and delightfully entertaining musical is thrilling audiences at the Underground Theatre. Billed as a musical that “explores the dynamic relationship between mothers, sons, and families,” this soulful journey is so much more.
Creatively and masterfully brought to life by Ethan Paulini, Christopher Sidoli, and Wendy Watson, the creators are also the brilliant stars. Their voices unite in a joyous celebration of life, competition, growing pains, and a heart-wrenching realization of an empty nest. Yet, through it all, they proclaim, “We are family.”
When Wendy Watson opens the night, you know Mama is giving one of life’s most memorable lessons. A montage of cleverly written and produced original works is interwoven with classical favorites, hit tunes, and even a sprinkle of sitcom. The vocals from Wendy, Ethan, and Christopher are so beautifully blended, one immediately believes this is a family. Only heredity can produce such harmony!
One moment you are camping through a Cabaret, the next you are immersed in a Spiritual Tent Revival, then you are smack in the middle of Broadway (only a few blocks away), and then you are in the midst of Mama’s bosom – which she invites with great pride! The eclectic mix is electrifying. The brothers harmonize about being “Sisters,” acknowledging they were “Born This Way,” and discover their Daddy had left a heart-broken Mama, who never let it show to her Boys. Tears of laughter, tears of joy, tears of sharing.
Wendy is the perfect Mama! She is the Mom kids wrestling with coming-of-age would love to have. Her vocal performance is uplifting. An incredible range of talent is beautifully gifted to the audience with an incredible range of emotion. You laugh, love, lust, and long for Mama.
Ethan and Christopher are Mama’s proud brothers, or sisters, whichever attitude fits. Their harmonies and vocal performances stop you in your tracks and bring you to your feet. You fall in love with them from the start and don’t want them to go home. You want them to come home with you!
The most poignant moment for me was the finale.
Immediately, I focused on Ethan standing behind and to Mama’s right. As Mama was capturing our souls with her appreciation of life and pride in the boys she raised, the emotions and look in Ethan’s eyes showed us a deep understanding of the sacrifices his mother had made for her boys. My eyes opened widely.
I looked over at Christopher and there was that million dollar smile and heart-stopping glimmer in his eyes.
Immediately, Mama drew me back in and I was captured by the lyrics. I could not take my eyes off Mama. I glanced back to Ethan and now he had that million dollar smile and heart-stopping glimmer. Quickly I glanced to Christopher and his expression was now the one of understanding the sacrifices Mama had made.
The lyrics and transitions of expressions were poignant. I cannot think of any other way to describe that beautiful, tender, and most loving moment between Mama and Her Boys.
Truly, this is an exceptional show by extremely talented storytellers. The Boys love their Mama. Mama loves her boys. They love what they have created and they obviously love each other. I loved being a guest in their home.
A press opening is scheduled for February 25. Performances continue every Monday at 9 pm at the new Underground Theatre, 955 West End Avenue (at W. 107th and Broadway). Tickets, priced $30-$40 are available by calling 866.811.4111 or visiting theatermania.com.
Thursday night I had one of the best Valentine treats possible, the premiere of “Let My People Come.” A revival of the 1970’s hit, tonight’s performance was packed full of emerging actors and singers that are sure to take New York and the Broadway stages by storm.
John Daniel Forslund is to be commended on the genius way he transformed an underground cabaret into an exotic 90 minutes of total entertainment and edgy fun. Updated with today’s social mores and challenges, he brought forward the same issues four decades. Capped off by vocals that would put many Broadway marquee stars to shame, this group also provided the unexpected – total and indisputable chemistry.
From the moment you walked into The Underground Theatre and the actors engaged you and personally made you feel welcomed, you knew you were in for a memorable night.
The first actor to greet me was Haley Selmon, a beautiful blonde bombshell. I knew immediately I was going to enjoy her characterization and interpretation of whatever scene John had her pegged for. What I was blown away by were the amazing vocals she provided and the warmth and interaction she made with every single member of the audience. The response from the audience towards Haley was a brilliant review into itself. Let me just say, they fell in love with her. Male and female!
Brian Craft began his pre-show conversation with me with that heart-warming and somewhat devious “Boy Next Door” image. Any Mother would be proud if her daughter or son brought this one home! The sparkle in his eyes told you he had something up his selves, or in his boxers, depending on the scene! His characterizations and transformations from one frantically mastering the skills of online dating and texting to a loyalty of love for his partner showed his versatility (and I don’t mean in the online dating sense). Vocally he was masterful. His harmonies and his inflections were flawless. Keep the name “Brian Craft” on your must-see list!
And, the powerhouse voice of the night was John Ryan Del Bosque. The range and intonation of this actor left you with chills. Close your eyes and you felt you were listening to Luther Vandross. Then, the next scene he was harmonizing like a boy band. And then did someone say, “Adam Levine was in the house?” for it sure sounded like him. John’s charisma on stage gave me pause to wonder how someone has not discovered this guy and put his name on the marquee.
What was billed as a fun night and great for a Bachelorette Party may well be the best kept secret of talent and entertainment in the shadows of the Great White Way. The entire cast was flawless and once again John Daniel Forslund is bringing creativity and ingenuity back to the Director’s chair.
Visit LMPCParty.com for more information.