This song about mothers isn't nearly as unknown as the one from Juno -- after all, it was seen before a national TV audience in 1995 when Bye Bye Birdie was remade for television. However, that broadcast wasn't terribly successful, so a lot of people may have missed it. And it's 18 years ago, so even those who saw the production, many may have forgotten the number.
But the song is so wonderful, one of the great (and little known) mother guilt trip songs ever. "A Mother Doesn't Matter Anymore."
Another reason it's little known is because the song wasn't included in the original Broadway production of Bye Bye Birdie. And it wasn't in the original movie version, either. And for decades it wasn't even in the authorized, licensed version that high schools, colleges and community theaters have done. And done and done and done...
The reason it never made it to Broadway was because the original actress playing 'Mama,' Kay Medford was a wonderful talent, but not much of a singer. She couldn't handle the song well-enough, so it was cut. When they made the original movie, Maureen Stapleton wasn't a singer, either. (And movies tend to trim, rather than add, especially for supporting characters.)
But when they did the TV re-make, they wanted a name actress for television audiences, and one of the appeals to get Tyne Daly (still so popular from Cagney & Lacey) was including the cut song, which expanded her role and gave her a show-stopping turn. Daly will never be considered a great chanteuse, but she's a strong enough singer to have starred in a Broadway revival of Gypsy. (As another "Mama," as fate would have it, 'Mama Rose.')
As you may recall from Bye Bye Birdie, the character of Albert's mother is utterly, unflinchingly manipulative, regularly faking fainting spells and possible heart attacks, all to keep her son under her thumb and ever-attentive, anything to keep him from marrying his long-suffering girlfriend, Rosie. (Quick side note: interesting to have Tyne Daly's 'Mama Rose' connection with 'Mama' and 'Rosie.' But I digress...) The mother character throws around guilt like most people toss out watermelon seeds.
Which brings us to this song, that comes later in the show. Albert has finally built up enough gumption to let his mother know his plans, that he loves Rosie and expects to marry her. And that..well, that calls for the big guns, and his mother know she has to pull out all the stops. And so she does.
The song, "A Mother Doesn't Matter Any More," still isn't part of the authorized, original Broadway version of Bye Bye Birdie that theater companies license. But for an extra fee, they can license the song as a bonus. Following its appearance in that 1995 TV movie, a lot of troupes are now licensing this wonderful, hilarious song and including it in their productions.
This is why.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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