Welcome, Mamma Crew! Today is Kiddos Tuesdays when I discuss issues related to our kiddos.
My girls, Emmi and Andy, were exposed to the musical theater very early on through the wonderful world of Disney. We started taking the girls to Disney World when they were three, just about to turn four. Really, we were just running away from the winters in Michigan to the warmth of Florida and without meaning to, we introduced them to musical theater.
The girls absolutely loved watching and participating in The Lion King in the Animal Kingdom. It’s a magical experience of sounds and visuals. You could almost smell the animals. And my girls had the opportunity to join the cast not once, not twice, but many many times. It was a truly magical experience for my four-year-olds. Also, loved, loved, loved, loved, loved, loved Finding Nemo. Nemo’s journey, being accompanied by such wonderful musical numbers, the puppets, the music, the lights, the sounds. It’s an incredible experience.
And of course, what is there not to love about Hollywood Studios’ wonderful rendition of Beauty and the Beast? It’s not quite the same experience. It’s more of a laid-back musical presentation. You have wonderful music and costumes and the dresses but not really that extravaganza that it is to watch it in an enclosed theater — in the dark, with all those wonderful lighting effects.
So pretty soon, I decided that the girls should experience an actual theater musical. My husband thought I was crazy, and he’s probably right. I’m one of these people that gets a bee in their bonnet and off I go with this kind of crazy idea. And so I made the decision that we should go to an actual theater and see a musical. And I found out that Mama Mia was playing the Flint Theater in Michigan.
Now to be honest with you, I don’t remember why I made this random decision because when I was in college, I had the opportunity to go see Mama Mia — and I passed on it. The whole thing sounded kinda stupid to me. Musical theater based on Mama Mia — how could they possibly connect the songs to a cohesive kind of piece? But here I was, the mother of four-year-old twins, and I decided, for whatever reason, that this was an excellent time to step things up and introduce the girls to an actual theater piece outside of Disney World.
So this play was taking place in Flint, Michigan. So on our way from Orlando, Florida, to Alpena, Michigan, we made a pitstop in Flint, got a hotel for the night, got all spruced up, and we went to watch Mama Mia in the local theater.
So we arrived at the theater, and I wanted to buy the girls a t-shirt — except each t-shirt is $40 and they don’t have children’s sizes. I don’t know who thought I was crazier — my husband or the vendor who sold me the t-shirt. The vendor kept asking “You’re really going to buy $40 t-shirts for your four-year-old twins?” And the answer was “Yes!” They were these pink wonderful little t-shirts that had “Mama Mia” on them. And he kept asking me, “Have they ever heard the songs?” Nope. “What makes you think they’re going to like them?” I don’t know. I can’t explain it to you. I just know they would.
So here we were, we go into the theater and the musical starts. The girls were positively enthralled. They didn’t just like it; they didn’t just love it; they LOVED it! Those $40 t-shirts were worn for about six years. First, they wore them as nightgowns. Then they wore them as dresses. Then they actually wore them as t-shirts because I had to get them women, extra-small because there were no children’s sizes. In fact, to be honest with you, they had those t-shirts for eight years. We barely gave them up, I think, about six months ago.
They loved Mama Mia. And when the movie came out, of course, we went to see it in the theater! By then we knew all of the songs and we sang them over and over again. Only Elsa’s songs rivaled the popularity of Mama Mia songs in our house. It went on, and on, and on… We must have watched these movies, oh my gosh, fifteen times! But even then, it didn’t dawn on me how bad we had Mama Mia Mania in our home — until I had the opportunity to join my husband for a trip to Las Vegas.
It was a business trip. But during that trip, we had the opportunity to see two musicals, one of which was Mama Mia. And so when I got home, I shared this fact with the girls. Oh my goodness were they angry! They were furious! It wasn’t fair! Why hadn’t I taken them?! They deserved to go to Las Vegas and they absolutely deserved to see Mama Mia again. I promised that if we ever had the opportunity to see Mama Mia again, I would take them. So we continued to watch the movie. Then the second movie came up. Uhm, okay. The second movie was not as fun as the first, but we rolled with it. We still bought it. We still watched it many many times.
And then this year, there it was — the opportunity to see Mama Mia! But this time, in Puerto Rico! Now, one of my friends asked me if this was a professional touring company; if the musical was going to be in English. You know, the theater said it was going to be in English. And it honestly didn’t matter to us if it was a professional touring company or not. So I got the tickets and we were excited! And to be honest with you, I was very excited about the idea of getting them another $40 t-shirt. I don’t know why. I think I was being sentimental. So we get to the theater. This time, the circumstances were a little different. It wasn’t just us. We took several of their friends.
But life changes doesn’t it? They’ve grown up a lot. They’re no longer four-year-old. And so this time, they were not as interested in spending time with me as they have been the previous time. This time several of their friends’ families joined us.
So their friends were with us and they were messing around outside of the theater until it was our turn to go in. We went in and I was excited to get those t-shirts. Much to my surprise, there were no vendors. No t-shirts for the Mama Mia show. Okay. I guess I can deal with that. The girls were a lot disappointed, much to my surprise. But it didn’t dampen our mood. We went in and here is Mama Mia!
Now the lead, if you’ve seen Mama Mia, you know the character’s name is Donna, was played by Ednita Nazario, a Puerto Rican singer. This woman had an amazing voice. She’s an absolute powerhouse! I can remember being a teenager and she was quite the rocker. She’s in her mid-sixties now and she had problems getting on and off the stage but the voice was still there and it was still amazing! The fact that a lot of the actors had a very thick Puerto Rican accent, I can’t even explain this to you, it didn’t matter! It made no difference because just like the actors in the other Mama Mia musicals, they were full of joy, and that joy was infectious.
We had an absolute blast! We did not want the show to end. We sang song after song and I think if we could have if there would have been room, we would have gotten up and danced. But soon, the music was over. The curtains went down. Fortunately, there was an encore! And then there was another encore and another encore! It was so much fun! It was an amazing experience to share with friends and family.
Now I have to be honest with you. This time, I took a little bit more of a cautious approach and we left Bug with a sitter. Just took the three girls, primarily because Bug is not quite at the point where he could sit still and the twins could do that by the age of four. So that gives us n excuse to see Mama Mia again when it comes back in town. All goes well, we have to take Bug.
I think the most wonderful part about it was that as a result of that experimental whim of mine, the girls have grown up with musical theater. And it might be a dying art. I don’t know. It’s not like we see musical movies anymore that much. And theater can be kind of expensive. But it’s different. It’s a different experience, a different medium, and my girls love it and they enjoy it.
Right now, they are memorizing the redacted lyrics to Hamilton. They can sing and rap them and their whole classroom is putting together a year-end project in which they will be singing this for the parents. How many twelve-year-olds do you know that are this much into musicals that they can infect eight other kids, rope them into singing and dancing before a group of adults?
It’s wonderful to see my children appreciate the arts. I realized how much they’ve grown up. And how much they still have to grow up. But before you know it, they’ll be off to college. And I can’t help but wonder, Will we see Mama Mia again before they go? And will we see it when they are adults? Will we see it when they have their children? Will I have to convince them to take their kids to see Mama Mia when the kids are too young, just like I had to convince my husband?
I do know one thing, I don’t have to convince myself that being my kids’ mom is a great experience and it feels wonderful to re-experience the world from their perspective. If you’d like to check out some of the pictures from the show, and our visit to the wonderful theater in San Juan, please check out our website. You’ll really enjoy them.
Remember, if you share an imperfect journey to motherhood, please subscribe to our blog (www.oldermomsblog.com) or podcast (https://apple.co/34m7mUi). For links and resources please visit our website. Till next time… Toodles…. And don’t forget to Mama Mia.