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Motherhood woven into tapestry of Sabrina Profitt’s stage career


Three wishes? Not necessary: the wish list has already been filled. After all, who could wish for a better Genie than Sabrina Profitt?

Indeed, it is a drama of a dream come true — and triumphant — as Washington Crossing native/resident Profitt proffers her wizardry on stage at the Walnut Street Theatre, portraying Genie Klein, who, as Mom Genie, was the literal Kingmaker in “Beautiful — The Carole King Musical.”

The Tony- and Grammy-award winning musical about the iconic singer/songwriter King-cum-Queen of rock opens Wednesday.

Taking the Walnut stage in Philadelphia is not so far away for the actress who has lived in the same Bucks abode since childhood. Indeed, the Walnut is somewhat of a second home for Profitt, who has profited from praise and applause in a decades-long career that spans regional theaters across the country, including the Bristol Riverside Theatre. At the Walnut, it’s completely understandable if the environs make her feel like a natural woman in a Mom’s role: She’s done it before.

Indeed, seven seasons back Profitt portrayed Tony Manero’s mother Flo in “Saturday Night Fever.” The shmattas (housedresses) may have changed but she slips into her Mom role as Genie quite comfortably.

“I do tend to play these kinds of roles,” she says with a laugh. “And I’m grateful for it.”

All she had to do was look in the mirror for some great source material: Profitt has raised three kids, quite successfully, and has brought those apron strings along with her for the ride to the stage. Indeed, Profitt, who earned a master’s in acting from Florida State University, has seemingly mastered the Mom role. But...

“There is no one right way to do motherhoood,” she avers.

Take Genie, the single mom who wanted her daughter to know she’s got a friend but also a sound advisor looking out for her.

“She has some fierce love for her daughter,” notes Profitt. “She wasn’t a ‘touchy mom,’” an adjective of affection Profitt applies to herself, “and she didn’t want her (King) to make the same mistakes she did in life.”

No doubt King got the performance genes from Genie, who had been a playwright, actress and director. Of the three amigas — Flo, Genie and Profitt herself — there is a common trait tracking their lives: “Flo and Genie and I love our kids!”

But if Genie isn’t exactly a “smother mother,” she is not above being forcefully truthful with her prolific progeny. “She wants Carole to be practical, to have a stable job,” rather than accordion her way into a then-male dominated music business.

Maybe mother, in this case, didn’t know best — but she did know the business. For the record, it was a different time when women were encouraged to stay at home not in the recording studio.

But, in many ways, King broke that record, claiming her own throne during the turbulent and turn-around ‘60s and ‘70s en route to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (twice: as songwriter and performer) and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Among all of King’s timeless tapestry of hits, was there one that took the crown for Profitt? “I can’t pick one favorite, but ‘Tapestry,’ the album...each song was like a mini-play.”

As she assembles on stage to get into Genie mode, is there a Profitt motive in conveying character to audience? “As with all of my work, I just try to get out of the way of the story,” she claims.

In a way, the actress has a story to tell that puts the spotlight on her own special stage sojourn. She might have known she wanted to be an actress since kindergarten at Edgewood Elementary in the Pennsbury School District, but there was nothing more elementary to Profitt’s ambitions than raising the greatest kids she could. During the height of her career, she reasoned that the biggest audition she would ever face was being there for her children.

So, the in-demand performer from Washington Crossing crossed off theater from her to-do list and took a 15-year hiatus to raise her children.

She would be their rock as they went through the Council Rock School District — as she had — and would help give shape to this trio of cherubs she cherished who have developed into such a source of pride. (Two of the daughters are now in college, the other in eighth grade.)

“I have never had any regrets doing that,” she says. And as far as wondering if it’s too late to re-enter the business after bringing up her babies, just take a look at her productive playbill bio.

What she has now is a great part on stage and a sense she was schooled superbly to get there. Who helped instill character in this accomplished character actress? Profitt cites a triptych of teachers from Council Rock: Bennett L. Fairorth, “who taught me in AP English; he changed my life,” introducing Profitt to the initially scary prospect of making sense of the biting and bitter “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’’; and Dave Harris and Doug Stewart, both English teachers and accomplished drama club coaches.

“They believed in me before I did.”

Believe it when Profitt says it is not merely wishful thinking but a real promise that she is ready to unwind her Genie on stage. After all, playing a Mom? Beautiful: “It’s the best gig I’ve ever had.”

Michael Elkin is a playwright, theater critic and novelist who lives in Abington. He writes columns about theater and the arts.

If you go

“Beautiful — the Carole King Musical” runs April 3 to May 5 at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia. For ticket information, call 215-574-3550.

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