Although she has no children of her own, Doylestown native Ellie Mooney plays an expectant mother in Motherhood the Musical, a four-women show onstage at the Society Hill Playhouse through Feb. 19.
And that’s what acting is all about, said Mooney, who will tell you that being a performer is all she’s ever wanted to be.
“I don’t remember ever wanting to do anything else but this, although my parents did try to broaden my horizons and expose me to a great many other things,” she said. “But it didn’t help. So in the end they were very supportive of my goals. In fact, I was fortunate enough to be given all kinds of dance lessons when I was growing up, and I worked very hard at singing and acting, as well, to achieve a good musical theater balance.”
And her current role seems to fit her musical theater balance extremely well, since she gets to show off all her talents.
From the producers of Menopause the Musical, Motherhood the Musical taps into the universal experience of motherhood from the perspective of new moms, single moms, stressed-out moms, divorced moms, grandmas and the many people who love these women.
The 20-song musical includes such Billboard Top 10 comedy hits as The Kids Are Finally Asleep, the rousing call to shoppers, Costco Queen, and the ballad I’m Danny’s Mom.
“I’m thoroughly enjoying this role and this show,” said Mooney. “And even though I’ve never been pregnant, the show offers me tremendous insight. As the story evolves, I find out through my friends how little I know about having this first baby. They offer me pearls of wisdom, tell me funny stories about their own experiences, and teach me how to get through this time with comedy and genuine moments of insightful monologues.”
Still, Mooney added, pretending to be pregnant is, at times, more difficult than she imagined.
“I have to wear this fake belly and it’s incredibly uncomfortable. I was shocked the first time I had it on, getting down three times without being able to get up,” she said. “Another time, when the director asked me if I was on my ‘spot,’ I had to say I didn’t know because I couldn’t see it.”
Mooney explained that, while trying to move her career forward, she did attempt to study formally at one point, but left college after two years because she “got itchy.”
“I was anxious to get out there and work, and an opportunity came along that allowed me to leave school and do just that,” she said.
She was afraid that convincing her parents that this was the thing to do would be a tough job, but, to her surprise, they were all for it.
“In fact, they encouraged me to do it, saying this was the only way to make sure being in the theater was the thing I really wanted,” she recalled. “They were right. I found out I loved it, and eventually, one opportunity led to another until here I am today.”
Over the years, Mooney has amassed many impressive credits. She has appeared in several successful productions in regional theater, at the Walnut Street Theatre, and with the national touring company of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Today, the actor/director/choreographer/teacher lives in New York. She travels so much with work, however, that she has had little time to spend there. And so, perhaps somewhere on her horizon is the plan to move back to Philadelphia.
“I’ve had the good fortune of working almost too much,” she said, “so maybe eventually moving back here might be the best thing I could do. I’ve done a lot of work at the Walnut Street Theatre and now here at the Society Hill Playhouse. I’ve been working consistently here for quite some time, so maybe it would be a good idea to spend more time with my family. I love it here in Philadelphia, love working here, so maybe moving here will be the next logical step.” ••
The Society Hill Playhouse is at 507 S. Eighth St. For ticket information, call 215-923-0210.