BWW Interview: Vicki Lawrence Speaks for Two
Vicki Lawrence and Mama: A Two-Woman Show
Sunday, February 17, 2013, at 2 pm at Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston, Robinson Theater, 617 Lexington Street, Waltham, MA; Box Office 781-891-5600 or www.reaglemusictheatre.org
Emmy Award-winner Vicki Lawrence of the renowned "Carol Burnett Show" and beloved "Mama's Family" brings Vicki Lawrence and Mama: A Two-Woman Show" to Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston on Sunday, February 17, for a one-show-only engagement. On January 30th, BroadwayWorld talked with one half of the duo by telephone. We think that Vicki is authorized to speak for Thelma Harper aka Mama.
BWW: How did the idea come about to turn this into a theater piece?
Vicki Lawrence: I put my show together on the heels of a Carol Burnett reunion which happened after 9-11. It was really clear to all of us how much the country loved the "Carol Burnett Show" and loved all of uS. Harvey and Tim had put a show together and were on the road and Harvey, who was really such a mentor to me, took me aside and said, "Really, it is time for you to put a show together. You would have so much fun and clearly the audience would absolutely adore it." I never felt like I wanted to be onstage alone, it was daunting to me, but I got together with trusted people, literally pushed the furniture back in the living room, and put a show together. I know that Mama has to be in a show because everybody loves her so much that I could disappear and nobody would miss me as long as Mama was there.
BWW: Well, I think that would have made it a lot easier for you to be out on the stage alone because at least you're hiding in her.
VL: Well, yes, but she's not 'til the second half of the show. So the first half is me because I need to be me before I'm not me, Nancy.
BWW: You mean you were losing yourself?
VL: Honestly, I feel like it's been fun to put together a half of the show. I feel like my life has been very serendipitous and really kind of humorous. Everything that's happened to me has been like an, "Omigod, are you kidding me?" Everything - from the way I met Carol, to becoming a natural redhead, to having a hit record, to meeting my husband (Al Schultz), to how Mama happened; it's all been, "Are you kidding?"
BWW: You didn't plan all this.
VL: No, and it's just been so serendipitous and fun and silly, so I knew the first half of the show would be fun as well, and funny, and it answers every question that everybody could possibly have if we were to bump the lights up and do questions and answers.
BWW: So you're not actually taking questions, you're anticipating them.
VL: All of the stories of my life, and it's an equally fun part of the show, I think. And then we take just a little short break and run some outtakes from "Mama's Family"and then Mama comes on. I said when we put the show together, I don't want to do retrospective, I really want to push her forward and into the new century, and get her out into the world of technology, and what's in the news and let her comment on all of it and make her very modern. I said to my writing partner, "I would like her to do a rap song," and he said, "What's she gonna rap about?" I said, "Her life." We wrote her a rap number 'cuz she's a hip kind of a gal. This show is so fun for me because I get to keep it really topical.
BWW: You're one of the writers?
VL: I have a writing partner (Monty Aidem) who helps me a lot. It's really funny because in the beginning he did not speak "Mama-ese" at all. I'd put down what I thought was the idea and he would fix it and send it back, then I would have to translate it into "Mama-ese." Over the years he's really learned to speak "Mama-ese" really well.