'Vicki Lawrence and Mama' set for Palace Theatre
By Linda Harkcom
Published: Friday, May 10, 2013, 5:50 p.m.
Emmy Award-winning comedienne Vicki Lawrence will take the stage at The Palace Theatre in Greensburg on May 16 in what Lawrence describes as a two-woman show.
Latshaw Productions will present “Vicki Lawrence and Mama: A Two-Woman Show” at 2 and 8 p.m.
Lawrence, who burst on to the entertainment scene as a member of the now-legendary cast of the “Carol Burnett Show,” created the character of Thelma Harper, or “Mama,” in the show's seventh season.
After the Burnett Show, Lawrence went on to star in “Mama's Family,” which consistently topped the ratings for its entire six-year run of original shows.
The multi-talented entertainer is mostly known for her acting and comedic talents, but she also earned a gold record for the 1973 hit, “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia.”
Lawrence became one of the few successful female game show hosts when she took on the daytime version of “'Win, Lose or Draw.” She further perfected her hosting skills on her own daytime talk show, “Vicki!,” from 1992-1994, becoming the only talk show host since Oprah to be nominated for an Emmy in her freshman year.
On stage, Lawrence has appeared in numerous productions, including “Send Me No Flowers,” “No, No Nanette,” “My Fat Friend,” “Chapter Two,” “Twigs,” “Hello Dolly,” “Special Occasions,” “I'm Getting My Act Together and Taking It On The Road,” “Annie Get Your Gun,” and, live from the Grand Ole Opry, “Nunsense 3: The Jamboree,” which aired on TNN. Most recently she appeared in “The Vagina Monologues.” Her autobiography, “Vicki! The True Life Adventures of Miss Fireball,” was published in 1995 by Simon and Schuster.
Lawrence said she will take the stage first as herself in the show, which is a mixture of standup comedy, music and her observations about real life
“Basically I open for the old lady,” she said. “This portion of the show is sort of autobiographical because my life has been so serendipitous. I try to answer all the questions people might ask if we were doing a question-and-answer period like Carol (Burnett) does.”
The second half of the show Lawrence will perform as “Mama.”
“She's my chance to be Chris Rock or Robin Williams. She gives me a chance to speak about things that are happening in the world but to do it from Mama's perspective, which I think people enjoy,” she said.
Lawrence said she first put this show together after the terrorist attacks on 9/11.
“My mission with this show was to take people away from everything going on in the world and for 90 minutes, give them a place to laugh. In that way, I feel like I am being of service,” she said.
Lawrence admitted that when she first started the show, which opened in Las Vegas in 2002, she was nervous about doing a show where she was on stage alone for 90 minutes.
“What I found out was you're not really alone. You are out there with your fans and it's a different journey each night and by the end you walk out having a room full of friends,” she said.
Renee Steiner of Derry Township, and her sister Nicole Zemcik of Unity Township bought tickets to Lawrence's show for their parents, Bill and Doris Weaver of Norvelt, as a Christmas gift.
“They have been fans of Vicki Lawrence for years. Nicole and I knew this was the show for them as soon as we saw she was coming. They were very happy,” Steiner said.
Doris Weaver said she and her husband really appreciated the gift and are excited to see Lawrence perform live.
“She's always so comical. We always loved watching ‘Mama's Family' and so we really got to be more of a fan of hers through that show. I just think she is so funny,” Weaver said.
While Weaver is disappointed she is longer able to watch reruns of “Mama's Family” on TV, she was happy to hear the show is scheduled to be released this fall on DVD.
Lawrence said she is very excited about the release and will be joining the rest of the show's cast this month to shoot footage for the special collection.
For tickets or more information visit www.thepalacetheatre.org or call 724-836-8000.
Linda Harkcom is a freelance writer.
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