By day, Wilmette’s Caryn Caffarelli is a mother to two daughters, but by night, at least on Aug. 14, Caffarelli will be a cabaret star in her show “MOMufactured: Made Better Through Motherhood.”
A longtime performer and member of the Actor’s Equity Association, Caffarelli has been developing her cabaret show for over three years. The path, however, to this performance — much like parenthood itself — has taken a winding road.
Debuting in December 2019 at Drew’s on Halsted, “MOMufactured” tells stories about the parenting journey, inspired by Caffarelli’s own experiences as a mother and punctuated by songs that reflect them.
Caffarelli said the show follows the ever-changing emotions and realities of motherhood, ranging from the insecurity of the early stages to the difficulty in letting go after years of care and closeness.
Ultimately, Caffarelli said, the learning, growing and changing that parents undergo makes them better people.
While COVID-19 put an early end to Chicago performances, the cabaret show lived on in Grand Cayman, where Caffarelli and her family went on vacation in 2020 — and never came back, until now.
While in the Caribbean, Caffarelli performed for the international expatriate community, and she discovered how universal the show’s observations on motherhood to be.
“The audience has been so wonderfully reactive,” Caffarelli said.
“That has been really rewarding, that my little Wilmette story has translated to people from all over the world,” she added.
Now back in town, Caffarelli is excited to share her show with the community that helped her through some of her tougher parenting moments and where she and her husband Craig raised their daughters Anna, 22, and Gina, 12.
The seed for this cabaret was arguably planted decades ago, when Caffarelli — at the time, mom to a preschooler — saw a sketch comedy show about parenting toddlers and found it both entertaining and helpful.
Wanting to give the same support she felt at the sketch show, Caffarelli found inspiration from some of the stories shared over the years, like when she guiltily admitted to a group of mothers that she tossed a dollhouse down the stairs, only to hear multiple responses of equally chagrinned moments.
In between the show’s stories, Caffarelli sings eclectic songs like Bob Dylan and Rod Stewart’s “Forever Young,” Martina McBride’s “In My Daughter’s Eyes” and musical numbers.
While this is Caffarelli’s first solo show, she has a long history with the art of cabaret as a member of Chicago Cabaret Professionals and a performer with Acts of Kindness Cabaret, which gives performances to help nonprofit organizations raise money.
Caffarelli is accompanied by Andrew Blendermann on piano and back-up vocals, and the show is directed by Chicago theater veteran Dale Kolandra.
“MOMufactured” will appear at the Skokie Theatre for one night only at 7 p.m. on Aug. 14; though the show is also available for local groups and private performances.
More information is available at Caryncaffarelli.com.
Christine Hinkel Adams has been covering events and news on the North Shore since 2018. A former high school English teacher, Adams grew up in Wilmette and now lives in the area with her husband and two children.