Hello friendly faces! It’s that time of the week! We’re back with a new CNSM Meet a Mom spotlight brought to you in part by Mary Gifford of Gifford Law. This week we are pleased to introduce you to Sara Stotts, a Ponca City, Oklahoma born mama of two teens, founder of Millennium Wellness Group in Chicago and co-creator of the hilarious musical comedy, MotherFreakingHood!
In this exclusive Meet a Mom interview, Sara gets real (hilarious that is) about all things career and staying sane-ish. MotherFreakingHood is on its 3rd city run with more dates in the future. Welcome, Sara!
Hi Sara! Please introduce yourself. Where are you from originally? What city do you live in now? What brought you here?
Originally from Ponca City, Oklahoma, I headed up north to become a Jayhawk at the University of Kansas and then further north to become a Wildcat at Northwestern to get an advanced degree in Physical Therapy. Here, I discovered my love of improv at the Annoyance Theater and joined a band called Chubby Nothin’ and the Bone, and discovered that Chicago is waaaay colder than Oklahoma.
You’re a mama! How many kiddos do you have and how old are they? Feel free to brag here.
I have two kids that I absolutely adore and make me laugh a lot. I have a son, Stephen (15) and a daughter, Lauren (13) who are full blown teenagers and doing very teenagery things. Stephen is active in football, baseball, and enjoys giving me a heart attack every time he tries to park in a parking lot. Every single time. Lauren is into musical theater and enjoys telling me how annoying I am. All the time. And I freaking love them.
What are one or two fun facts to know about you?
Fun fact – I started flying airplanes before I got my driver’s license. Back in Oklahoma, my dad got into flying and wanted me to learn how to land the plane in case he had a heart attack. I took to it, and the good news is I never had to do an emergency landing because of any heart attacks; but I did have to abort a landing once because a coyote was on the landing strip and would not get out of the way. In the game of chicken, I guess I was the chicken.
What are your favorite North Shore local places to spend with the family?
When the kids were younger, I used to love taking them to look at the small but elaborate outdoor train and railroad exhibit at the Chicago Botanical Gardens. Now, I love taking them there for the spectacular Lightscape production in the winter. The Wilmette beach has been fun for the family since they were little; except now I don’t have to be knee deep helping them with sand castles and worrying about them running away from me and face-planting in the waves. Now, they run off with their friends, and I get to enjoy a little R&R and get more sun on my body than sand in my underpants. We also love enjoying the surge of restaurants that have taken place in downtown Wilmette. Oh, and Dick’s Sporting Goods. That place is killing my wallet.
What gets you through a tough day?
Can I say Xanax? I wrote an entire song about Xanax for the musical. But I also stretch, take deep breaths, yada yada yada….Xanax
You’re also a physical therapist; any advice for self care?
Posture! Most of my patients have kinks and knots because of sitting for long hours at the computer. Get up! Walk around! Stretch!
What are you… reading? listening to? Watching?
I don’t have a lot of down time, but I love watching WGN news in the morning especially if I am ever up early enough to catch Dan Ponce and the B-team! The whole morning crew sets the right tone for the day and their humor gets me in a great mindset. I mean, if they can be professional, funny, and clever every single day then I can get my butt in gear too, right?
Congratulations on your successful show, MotherFreakingHood: A Musical Comedy. When did you write this? What inspired you, outside of the obvious. I mean we all feel this but we don’t all have the guts and spirit to write about it, let alone produce a show!
My college roommate, Julie Dunlap, inspired me and continues to inspire me. About 12 years ago she called and asked me to write an original show about the absurdity of motherhood. I thought she was kidding. I mean, who does that? Well, two moms with seven kids between them who turn to writing original music to process the chaos instead of going to therapy. That’s who. Before we knew it, we had written a series of songs that progressed into a full-storied musical following three unlikely (and uncensored) friends who sing and dance their way from pregnancy tests to empty nests. The show illustrates motherhood in a raw, relatable way with deep humor and heart. Who knew a few years later, we would be producing our musical in Kansas City, New York City, and now bringing it to Sweet Home Chicago. It’s really been way more fun than raising kids. (Stephen and Lauren mommy is joking, I love you)
Sara with her kids when they were sweet (just kidding!)
Where is your next show? Why did you choose this location? Where would you like to perform this show next?
Our next run is here in Chicago! We are thrilled to produce the show at the Venus Cabaret Theater located in the Mercury Theater on Southport Ave., May 4th – June 11th 2023. I have loved the Mercury Theater since the first time I saw a play there, and it has been a dream of mine to produce MotherFreakingHood! in that venue. Walter Stearns at the Mercury Theater and his crew have been incredibly supportive and have helped guide us like a family does when they are watching their kids struggle through college. Going forward we would love to see this MotherFreaking labor of love play throughout the Midwest, and yes, we would love a run in the North Shore.
Do you perform in your own show? How do you cast for this?
I got to play the role of Marcia when we first ran the musical in Lawrence, KS years ago while my co-writer, Julie Dunlap, directed the show, and it was an absolute blast. Since then, we have hired professional actors and directors for all of the productions, including this upcoming run in Chicago. Heidi Van from the Fishtank Theatre in Kansas City has directed our two Kansas City productions and will direct our incredible cast of Chicago actors: Leah Morrow, Jacquelyne Jones, Tafadzwa Diener, and Maya Rowe who will bring these funny mothers to life. We also have an amazing and well-known Musical Director, Linda Madonia, leading the music. It will be a great show!
You are also the founder and owner of Millenium Wellness Group in Chicago. Tell us about this practice.
Millennium Wellness Group specializes in orthopedic rehabilitation offering Physical Therapy, Chiropractic, and Massage Therapy. Located in the loop, we see a wide variety of injuries and help people get back to their best physical health. I co-own it with Dr. Jennifer Beverlin who is a Chiropractor, and for the last 18 years we have absolutely loved helping patients and seeing their health progression. My sister, Allison Stotts, manages my office so I guess you could say I pay her to boss me around. It’s a great office with a lot of heart.
How did you carve out time for a passion project while also being a mom and running your own successful practice?
Refer to the earlier question about Xanax- kidding!
It takes a village. A lot of people have supported us along the way and we do not do this alone. Our husbands have been huge advocates and supporters of our show and the balancing act it has come with, as well as the rest of our family and friends who have been incredibly supportive and helped us carve out the time to make our show happen… Not unlike Rachel, Angie, and Marcia in MotherFreakingHood!, who find that motherhood is always better with the help of friends.
What was the scariest thing about writing MotherFreakingHood? What challenges have you faced?
The scariest thing is jumping into the world of the unknown. We knew nothing about creating a musical and had to build our own village from scratch. How do we write a musical? How do we produce it? Where can we produce it? What is a producer? (Seriously, there are several definitions and it is confusing.) With no credibility or reputation in the industry, we had to create this musical with a lot of hard work and persistence. We have had to learn all about social marketing (still learning), how to raise funds (still learning), where and how to network for future shows (still learning), how to make a giant dancing Xanax pill out of foam (still learning), and again we still really don’t know what a producer is.
Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you personally or about the show?
What I love about MotherFreakingHood! is that it really is for men as well. They go through many of the same absurdities as fathers. We don’t do any man-bashing, as we want to celebrate the men who made us mothers. Also, we love seeing mothers and their (adult) children’s reactions and the new understanding that occurs after hearing the emotional confessions put to music on stage. Perhaps we should have a booth after the show where the offspring can just apologize to their mothers? Or a booth with a therapist? Or perhaps just the bar…
How do our readers stay in touch with you about future performances? How do we buy tickets to your show?
They can get all of our information – including tickets to our current show – and purchase merch so they’ll be lit! (My kids use that term which I guess means “cool.” When I use it I get the gigantic eye roll).
Go to www.MotherFreakingHood.com and use code NORTHSHOREMOM for $5 off tickets to the show. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram.
About our Meet of Mom Sponsor
A very heartfelt thank you to CNSMoms’ Meet a Mom sponsor, Lake Forest mom of three and owner of Gifford Law, a solo Estate Planning Firm (wills and trusts). Mary, we appreciate your support of local moms in our North Shore communities! Learn more about Mary by visiting her Meet a Mom spotlight here! Contact Mary directly here: [email protected].