A lot of women will say being a working mother is the hardest thing in their lives to balance. I agree, and I started thinking about how that applies to women in theatre. I keep forgetting that our lives aren’t “normal”. The kids can’t watch TV without saying “oh, there’s Paul in that commercial” or “Uncle Val has another show coming up.” Our kids have hung out playing games backstage with people they don’t even realise are famous. They’ve been in the booth helping to call sound cues. They’ve made opening night cards with designers and costumers. They’ve seen their family members and friends dressed as Cats, Elvis, in togas, in drag, and as Nazi chorus girls. FYI, that last one was for The Producers.
Universal daycare doesn’t apply to us. It doesn’t cover show hours and there are certainly no drop-off centres for auditions. I remember juggling rehearsals for a show in New York around feeding schedules. I quit acting not long after that. It was just too hard.
So I asked some of our top stage actresses how they did it.
Starting with Charlotte Moore.
Charlotte’s resume reads like a who’s who of theatre. If you can think of a show, she’s likely done it. She’s also been in the premiers of more Canadian musicals than anyone I know. This award winning performer is also the mom of 2 girls, aged 12 & 14.
What’s the hardest thing about being a mom in the theatre biz?
Getting up at the crack of dawn when you’ve been up until midnight just getting home from work. I always say “There’s no tired like toddler tired.”
Also not having ordinary weekends.
*In the acting world, your traditional day off is Monday.
What’s the best thing?
It’s made me a much better actor. I can cut through my own personal junk much quicker and get to the real stuff underneath – almost like I’ve developed a short-cut through myself!
Your husband Pat is also an actor. Are there specific challenges because of that?
Actually it makes things ALOT easier. We try to take turns with our contracts. He’s out in Calgary right now, and I’m in between shows – but I start one exactly a week after he gets back.
There is a lot of compromise involved, though. There was one time a few years back, after I’d done “Hairspray”, when they called and said they needed an emergency replacement on Broadway and could I go down for ten weeks, and I couldn’t go. My husband was out of town, the kids were small, and there was an eleven day overlap. Sometimes you gotta be a Mom first.
Do you have any tips or tricks to getting passed the challenges?
Remember to stay a team. You are not in competition with each other.
You and Pat have also worked together. Do you find the roles you’re playing seep into real life, or are you able to keep the relationships separate?
We haven’t worked together as much as we’d like, but last year we did a two-hander in Charlottetown, and it was fantastic – it reminded us that the other person is a) REALLY GOOD at what they do and b) something else besides solely “The Other Parent”. That was very cool, and we had an absolute blast. But I gotta tell ya – I was worried going into it! I kept saying: “What if I need to strangle him by the third day?” – luckily, that didn’t happen.
Have your daughters shown interest in carrying on in the family biz?
The younger one for sure – she was in “Anne of Green Gables” with me in Charlottetown in 2009 and she just loved the whole experience.
Do you encourage or dissuade her?
Well, that’s tricky. I see all these kids in other shows I do and they have such a good time, and they love it so much. This year, during “A Christmas Carol” in Hamilton, I said to one of the kids “Well, you’re not gonna have much of a holiday with all these matinees.” and he said: “Yes, but I get to be here. I love it here.” BUT as a parent, do I really want my kid staying up till eleven (or later) on a school night? Regularly? Missing all their dance classes and sporting events? My husband and I both feel that the kids need to be allowed to BE KIDS – not work for a living.
It’s off-toipc but I have to ask: do you have a best memory of a mentor or idol?
My high school English Teacher, Peggy Roth, stopping me in the hallway and announcing: “Charlotte Moore, if you’re not an actress, I’ll kill you!”
Do you have a worst memory?
In first year of theatre school (York U) the voice teacher (who we didn’t get until 2nd year) said to me: “Your voice is a Stradivarius – in the hands of a five year old.
Charlotte comes from a Canadian Theatrical Dynasty, so there was one more question I had to ask: The Toronto Theatre Awards are named for your Gran, your sister’s in an iconic Christmas movie, there’s a bar named for your dad. What would you like your legacy to be?
“She learned how to play the Stradivarius”
Having just finished back to back shows, including a workshop of the much anticipated musical adaptation of Michel Tremblay’s Les Belle Soeurs, Charlotte’s going back to being just mom.
Not to worry, she’ll be back in May, tearing up the stage in a new Canadian review called “To Life”.