Belly Laughs

El­lie Mooney had no idea that por­tray­ing an ex­pect­ant mom could be so tough. ‘Moth­er­hood the Mu­sic­al’ has provided a funny les­son.

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.

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