Navigating Motherhood and Finding Community: Rachel McAdams Makes Poignant Broadway Debut in ‘Mary Jane’

Rachel McAdams is a force to be reckoned with in her Broadway debut Mary Jane, a play from Pulitzer Prize finalist Amy Herzog and director Anne Kaufman. 

From the moment the audience sits down in the theater, they are immersed in Mary Jane’s one bedroom New York apartment with magnets and photos collaging the fridge, and a mustard yellow blanket slung over the red pull-out couch. This small room is made to feel even more intimate and protected by the full ceiling above that conceals the theater lighting. In this space is where we first meet Mary Jane. 

On the surface, Mary Jane is a single mom caring for her two year old son with Cerebral Palsy (CP). However, through Herzog’s critically acclaimed writing and McAdams’ Tony nominated embodiment of this brilliantly complex character, the audience finds that Mary Jane’s story runs so much deeper. 

Like McAdams’ character in Spotlight, Mary Jane isn’t afraid to ask questions. As a fierce advocate for her son, Alex, she isn’t afraid to speak up for her son’s care. As an aspiring teacher, she also shares her space, knowledge, and time with all the people that orbit her life from her son’s aides to a stranger who is lost after her young son has been diagnosed with CP. 

After an unexpected medical setback, Mary Jane feels like a goldfish out of water. As she navigates a stark and expansive hospital, and looks to others to teach her. 

Through religion, conversation, and humor the play recognizes the competing joy, pain, and pure exhaustion of a mom just trying to navigate. 

Playing off her talented cast members April Matthis, Susan Pourfar, Lily Santiago, Brenda Wehle, Katya Campbell, Susanna Guzmán, and Megumi Nakamura, McAdams plays Mary Jane with a rawness and subtleness that feels so authentic; from her mannerisms to the choked-up stuttering of overwhelm. 

Whether it’s through comedy, romance, or drama, the academy award nominee has proven time and time again of her ability to embody a character. However, to see her become Mary Jane in real time is awe inspiring and testament to her ability as an actress and storyteller. 

Rachel McAdams as Mary Jane is a must see. Tickets to the Manhattan Theatere Club production are available here.

Featured Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy