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My Mother Has 4 Noses Is Jonatha Brooke's Seriously Funny and Moving Musical

by Rich and Laura Lynch

The subject matter could be enough to get you down as My Mother Has 4 Noses is the story of a mother slipping away from her daughter as age, decline and dementia became the dominant dynamic in their relationship. But, in the case of singer-songwriter Jonatha Brooke and her mom the turbulent trials and tribulations of facing this debilitating disease head on actually brought them closer together. In fact, it was Brooke's mother who impressed upon her to "get it all down" in order for her story to be told resulting in the tearful and triumphant one woman show now playing at the Duke Theatre on 42nd Street in New York City.

My Mother Has 4 Noses Is Jonatha Brooke's Seriously Funny and Moving Musical

Jonatha Brooke is a much-heralded independent singer-songwriter that has wowed fans with her ethereal and radiant style since her first solo record Plumb was released in 1995. The artist - often praised for her angelic voice and mastery of melody - went on to build a prolific catalogue while scoring songs for movies and television. Now, her lofty talent finds her shining in the spotlight on the Great White Way.

My Mother Has 4 Noses - directed by Jeremy B. Cohen - and created by Jonatha Brooke is a one woman show based on "the daily theater of loving and caring for someone with dementia" that evolved from a blog and a song sequence into this now powerful and critically acclaimed performance scheduled to run from late February through May 4th, 2014 at The Duke located at 229 West 42nd Street (between 7th & 8th Ave) in New York City. The black box theater is a flexible intimate venue and an ideal place for this personal production. attended an evening performance of My Mother Has 4 Noses on March 1, 2014.

"No matter who you are, this story is about you, too," Brooke relayed in a recent conversation with's Rockin' Rich Lynch on the Radio. "I think that there's something everybody relates to when they see it."

Fair enough. Everyone has a mother. But, Jonatha's mom was unique. She was overly dramatic in word and gesture. She went to clown school. And, when a case of untreated skin cancer ran rampant across her face she traded in her clown nose for a set of four prosthetic devices - one for every season - that would ultimately give name to her daughter's play.

"At first I did wonder about that. Because it is intense and I am reliving this experience," Brooke stated when asked by Lynch if there was a concern that her seven show a week schedule might exact an emotional toll. "But, I find it invigorating and cathartic in the best way. I feel energized by the end of the night because there's so much love in the room."

Those in the room are treated to two acts with Jonatha sharing her personal and often sad love story with grace, humor and eleven solid songs. She is a talented artist who aptly carried the show seamlessly switching between her roles as narrator and musical performer. She moved from piano to guitar throughout culminating in the finale that she composed and plucked on a kalimba.

The set was simple. On one side was a Casio keyboard. On the other a bookshelf and a chair paired with a desk. Center stage was a rug with a few acoustic guitars around. Brooke utilized all the instruments during the night. A backdrop screen provided photographs of Brooke's mother along with other visuals to enhance the story. Jonatha was supported by Ben Butler on guitar and Anja Wood on cello.

Jonatha emerged and introduced us to her mother, declaring that mom had many personalities including clown, poet and devout Christian Scientist. Mom's religion was an important part of the narrative as the sect shuns medicine in favor of faith healing. It also impacted much of Jonatha's childhood with even a joke that Brooke discovered Advil at age 30.

"Song writing is my church," stated Jonatha. Brooke also shared her mother's poetry as another way to bring mom to life to the audience. The dialog in conjunction with photos gave us a vivid image of mom. The first act ended with the song "What Was I Thinking?" reflecting on how Brooke was trying to cope with all the demands of this cruel disease and the trials of caretaking. From our perspective she faced her circumstances with comedy, compassion and music to soothe the soul.

The second act addressed in-depth some of the more unpleasant aspects that caring for a person who can no longer care for their self entail. The poignant "My Misery" and more poems helped express the heartbreak that Jonatha was dealing with. The show progressed to the night when Brooke realized her mother's passing was imminent. The reality that both their journey's soon would be over resulted in "Mom's Song" that had patrons reaching for the free pack of tissues that were handed out upon entry to the theater.

My Mother Has 4 Noses is a touching tale of a mother-daughter relationship. It is a no-frills story of real life, love and death. Johatha Brooke is a gifted musician well-equipped to carry this one women show with compassion, warmth, wisdom and wit.

Fans of the artist will be happy to know that the music from the play is available as part of the My Mother Has 4 Noses Soundtrack CD and includes the songs -- Are You Getting This Down? / Sleight of Hand / The Wind / What Do I Know? / What Was I Thinking? / My Misery / How Far You'd Go For Love / Scars / Time / Mom's Song / Superhero / Are You Getting This Down? (reprise).

"It is definitely an album in the old-fashioned sense of the word - it tells a story," Brooke told Lynch on the air. "There are eleven songs that are in the same sequence as you hear them in the play. It is very much a Jonatha Brooke record - but, it is very much a story that I'm telling about my love for my mother."

Related Links: For more information on JONATHA BROOKE and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Jonatha | My Mother Has 4 Noses

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