Melinda Gallant, the raconteur and comedienne from Sandwich, reflected this week on her inspiration as she prepared to open her new one-woman show.
“Have you ever been in a plane with screaming children and you want to throw them all out the window, parents first?” she asked.
From that simple observation comes “And Then What Happened? (or Come To Mama).” The show opens June 7 in the Black Box Theater at Cotuit Center for the Arts.
In this show, she takes on parenting–from the beginning.
The fact that every kid these days gets a trophy? Easy target. Caveman contraception? A little more challenging.
Gallant, who calls herself “a life guide,” uses flip charts and audience participation to analyze parenting styles through the ages: from Mary and Joseph to the Duggars of Arkansas, the reality television couple who have 19 children and counting.
Gallant has three children and six grandchildren and she is complimentary of them all. But things are different today and not always for the better.
“I have wonderful grandchildren. They are much smarter than previous generations. They are more worldly and more accepting today than 50 years ago. That’s all good.”
But she said, “They get so much, and sometimes that’s not so good.”
Gallant minces no words when it comes to how people are raising their kids today.
“They are not doing it right,” she said.
This is Gallant’s second one-woman show in as many years. Her show last year, also at Cotuit, was called “And Then What Happened? (or Never Where Spanx to Fenway Park), and was a sold-out hit.
This one is different in that it is mostly improvisation.
“My husband said, “Do what you do best. You like to just yak,” she said.
There’s more than just yakking.
During the latter part of the show, a section, she calls, ”the seventh inning stretch,” she will lead the audience in a sing-along with her ukelele, an instrument she has been studying for all of eight weeks.
“It’s brand new to me—and you will see that,” she said.
Gallant’s husband, Joe, is credited with scripting the show.
The two worked together by working apart.
“What we do is we don’t do anything at home,” Melinda Gallant said.
Her husband emails a three to four-minute bit to her during the day when she is at work, and she comments and sends it back.
Joe Gallant said it takes about 20 of those bits to make up this performance.
From his perspective, the key to working with his wife is choosing a middle ground. “Unlike the US Congress, we compromise,” he said.
The collaboration has continued as they have fine-tuned the show.
He is careful in his description of his role during rehearsals. He does not critique—“that would really make her mad.” Instead, he offers suggestions.
“I’ll say, ’Here’s another idea’ or ‘What if you did this?’ ” he explained.
Melinda Gallant said the intimate 25-seat Black Box space is perfect for a show like hers.
It allows a performer to be creative, to gauge audience feedback, and see what works and what doesn’t.
As the show evolves, the changes can be striking. For her piece last year, “the people that saw the first and last show saw a different show,” she said.
One thing that will not change over the course of this show is the focus on one theme: the teaching of consequences.
These days, kids do not learn about them, Gallant said.
For example, when her kids were young, she would tell them not to stick their fingers in the light socket. If they did it anyway, they learned about consequences.
“These days they child-proof the house. But when do they learn not to put their fingers in the light socket?” she asked.
Melinda Gallant in “And Then What Happened (or Come To Mama)”
Cotuit Center for the Arts
4404 Falmouth Road, Cotuit
There are 12 shows, June 7 to 30, Friday and Saturday at 8pm, Sunday matinees at 4pm
Tickets $15, $12 members
– Laura M. Reckford