‘Mamaphobia’ star from Park Ridge has no fear of making fun
Mary Poole, of Park Ridge, performs in the one-woman show, "Mamaphobia," through July 31 in Glenview. | Contributed photo
NAME: Mary Poole
BEST KNOWN AS: Star of ‘Mamaphobia’
HOMETOWN: Park Ridge
Updated: July 22, 2012 6:18AM
Since parenthood doesn’t come with a manual, new moms encounter all sorts of unscripted surprises.
Like how she cannot help but transform into the Incredible Hulk while facing inconsiderate motorists when her baby is in the backseat. Or how mom-stalking is the best method for making new friends. Forget not the joy of breast-feeding as learned from heavily accented “lactation specialists.”
“There’s a lot of stuff that happens in motherhood that people don’t talk about,” said Park Ridge actress and mother of two Mary Poole. “The play tells it like it is.”
She’s referring to “Mamaphobia,” an unfiltered retelling of life from pregnancy to parenthood.
Poole, 30, starred in the one-woman act, which opened Mother’s Day weekend at the Laughing Chameleon club in Glenview. Sold-out performances May 11 and May 12 ended a four-year hiatus of the comedic play and marked the first-time its creator, Peggy Maher Ward, hired someone to fill her shoes.
Maher Ward, of Glenview, scripted the instantly popular act in 2003 when her children were 2 years old and 9 months old.
“Mamaphobia” is about “the insecurities of a new mom and how she finds her way in a foreign world,” she said, adding that this world is oftentimes awkward, hilarious and too good not to be true.
Maher Ward had performed the act in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs for years until the time came for a break, she said.
She decided to revive the show with a stand-in actress in order to concentrate on the act’s second installment and next phase in a mother’s life: the school years. Think play dates, sporting events, birthday parties and parent-teacher conferences.
Poole just so happened to email Maher Ward in the midst of a talent search. They knew one another from children’s enrichment center Starland in Deerfield, where Poole is a teacher.
Ward had met her match.
“I think it was fate,” she said.
Poole instantly fit the bill — young mom with loads of energy and wit — but she hadn’t been seeking work.
In addition to raising babies she was completing master’s work in elementary education. She was also renovating the Park Ridge house she grew up in. Memorizing a 55-page script, Poole said, had been the last thing on her mind.
Despite everything the offer landed in her inbox at the right time. Both of Poole’s parents had died earlier in the year.
“I needed a distraction,” she said. “It was kind of heaven-sent.”
“Mamaphobia” marked the first show in which Poole’s parents weren’t present — at least not physically. While in character, Poole gets to call “mom” for advice on child-rearing.
“I get to be a normal mom again,” she said. “It’s very emotional and touching.”
She described her debut performance last month as “beautiful” and said she didn’t expect the audience to laugh for as long as they did.
But that’s exactly what the daughter/mom had needed at the time.
“This show was my therapy,” Poole said. “Humor is healing.”
Performance of “Mamaphobia” currently run through July 31 at Laughing Chameleon in Glenview. Go to mamaphobia.com for more information.