Local fans put hometown actress to the test

Philadelphia native Donnie Hammond plays the mother of three in “Motherhood the Musical,” now being staged at the Society Hill Playhouse. — SUBMITTED PHOTO

Although she has no children of her own, Philadelphia native Donnie Hammond plays the mother of three in “Motherhood the Musical,” now at the Society Hill Playhouse through Nov. 13.

But that’s what acting’s all about, said Hammond, who admits she’s always wanted to be a performer. “In fact, my mother said I was dancing before I could walk. Performing is something I could never get away from. And it’s not something I ever really want to stop doing.”

From the producers of the hit “Menopause the Musical,” this new production is a musical comedy highlighting the universal blessings and perils of being a mother from the perspective of new moms, single moms, stressed-out moms, divorced moms, grandmoms and the many people who love all these women.

“I would describe myself as an actress who also sings,” Hammond said. “I’ve always been singing and I love to sing, dance and act, and love most when it all comes together. I also love playing different people and getting paid for it, so doing musical theater is what I enjoy most.”

The show features 20 songs that include comedy hits like “The Kids Are Finally Asleep,” “Costco Queen,” “I’m Danny’s Mom” and others. The work of author and songwriter Sue Fabisch, the show is running around the country and each production features local casts hired in each city.

Hammond considers herself lucky to have been chosen for one of the roles, and explains that her character of Tasha is basically the mother hen of the group. “The character of Amy is a first-time mom and we are throwing her a baby shower. I would say my character of Tasha is the most caring of the group. Amy is feeling a little frightened by the whole thing, and I try to calm her and the others down.”

Hammond adds that there is a “real mother” in the cast who helps the rest of the cast members understand what motherhood is about, although the show is much more about relationships, Hammond explained. “It’s about dealing with other women — your mom, your sisters and so on — and more about the sisterhood of women and the common bond we all share.”

Hammond, who is a graduate of Bishop McDevitt High School, spent one year in college before she decided to stop studying and start working at her chosen craft. She says, “My mother wasn’t too intrigued with me majoring in theater, so I came back home and began taking any kind of work I could get in community theater.”

Her hard work paid off, and soon she was cast in “Jamaica” at the Prince Theater, and also went to Germany to tour with the Original U.S.A. Gospel Singers. She said it’s a treat as well as a bit frightening to play in front of hometown audiences.

“Nobody knew me in Germany so that was really easy. But when you play to an audience of people who know you, it can be intimidating, and it does make me a little nervous. You want to be a blessing to the people who know you, and to give them something truly wonderful. And it’s especially nerve-wracking if they’re sitting right up in the front tow where I can see them. I don’t want to be distracted and I want them to really enjoy the show.”

Next up for Hammond is anybody’s guess. “I hope to be able to network while I’m here and get more work. Eventually,” she admits. “I’d love to be performing all over the world, because performing is my main goal in life, something I figured out a long, long time ago.”

For times and ticket information, call (215) 923-0210.

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