Secrets of a Soccer Mom

by Bill Dorian

Three mothers casually watch their eight-year-old kids play soccer while discussing life as a 21st century wife and mom in the Tennessee Women’s Theater Project production of Secrets of a Soccer Mom playing through March 14 at the Z. Alexander Looby Theater, 2301 Rosa L. Parks Blvd.

A former social worker turned PTA organizer; a former model with aspirations of being a photographer; and a former high school athletic star (all turned ‘super housewives/super-moms’) examine the fine line between their commitments to motherhood and their shared desires for self-fulfillment. They alternate between shouting words of encouragement to their boys; shouting them down from trees or to “quit dancing”; and self-evaluation shared with their fellow soccer mom friends.

You don’t have to like soccer, be a mom, or even be a woman to enjoy this professionally acted production. Secrets of a Soccer Mom is as much about the universal truths of the human condition as it is about advancing a round football down a soccer field. While Kathleen Clark’s script is often mirthfully comic, it just as frequently brims with thoughtful drama and pathos. Modern ‘liberated’ attitudes about parenting and marital relationships are reflected in this timely dramatic comedy.

Secrets of a Soccer Mom opened in 2008 in the off-Broadway Snapple Theater. It has quickly become a favorite with community theatres across the nation; however, the Tennessee Women’s Theater Project’s production is the play’s local premiere.

As Alison, Lynn, and Nancy watch their youngsters play soccer (and prepare for a ‘scrimmage’ game themselves: moms vs. kids) they discuss their personal anxieties and frustrations. Lynn is a workaholic who wearies of balancing the care of her family with organizing PTA meetings and outings for all the kids in the neighborhood. Her latest planned adventure is a trip to the zoo, for which she is fervently (and without result) attempting to get Nancy and/or Alison to help her. Nancy is a former catalogue model with dreams of being on the other side of the camera and making it as a photographer — only she doesn’t seem to have much interest in actually developing the pictures. Alison is the most athletic member of this trio of moms, actually suggesting they NOT let their boys win in the scrimmage game. (Lynn and Nancy think if the boys lose, it will be detrimental to their self-esteem).

Amanda Card-McCoy plays Alison with both deep-felt dramatic emotion and intentionally humorous naïveté. Her portrayal runs the spectrum of emotional commitment, demonstrating a keen agility in both drama and comedy. While Secrets of a Soccer Mom is essentially an ensemble piece dividing the story equally between the three moms, Alison’s situation gets a bit more attention than the other two.

Brittany Nelson portrays Lynn with energetic vitality, reflecting her character’s personal dynamism. Nelson also sparkles with comedic zest in her line delivery and reactions to both her off stage kids and her on stage moms.

Nancy Whitehead plays the ‘faded model,’ Nancy, with both sharp comic timing and poignant dramatic empathy.

Direction by Tennessee Women’s Theater Project founder Maryanna Clarke is innovative and quick-paced. Clarke has obviously had a good relationship with her three actresses. The rapport is evident in the excellent performances she has obtained.

By the time the ladies are ready to play their sons’ team, they’ve decided maybe the boys will learn a greater lesson in life if they watch their moms playing the very best soccer they can. Their spirit of competition soars, and they indeed take the little tykes ‘out.’ But on this windy autumn day, the three moms probably learn more themselves than they teach. And we, as an audience, do too.

Secrets of a Soccer Mom continues at the Looby Theater, 2301 Rosa L. Parks Blvd. through Sunday, March 14. Tickets are $15 for adults; $12 for students and seniors. Special offers include $10 Thursday performances. For a complete schedule of performance dates and times, reservations and information, call 615-681-7220, or visit www.twtp.org >

Making the production more accessible to busy mothers, the company has scheduled two mid-morning weekday matinees, at 10:30 am on Wednesday, March 3, and Tuesday, March 9.