by Beth Stauffer

On Friday, April 5th, 2013, Emmy Award winning comedienne Vicki Lawrence (and her alter-ego, “Mama” Thelma Harper) will roll into the Niswonger Performing Arts Center in Northwest Ohio for her Vicki Lawrence and Mama: A 2 Woman Show with, quite fittingly, two shows at 2 pm and 5 pm.

Many will recognize Ms. Lawrence as one of the co-stars on the long-running Carol Burnett Show, which aired for 11 seasons from 1967-1978 on CBS.  She was handpicked by Carol Burnett to join the cast as her little sister after writing a letter to Ms. Burnett during her senior year in high school that included a newspaper clipping that commented on the resemblance between the two.  “My life has been so serendipitous because of that letter,” Ms. Lawrence said in a recent phone interview, with me, adding, “I got to go to the Harvard School of Comedy!”

Ms. Lawrence’s appearances on the Carol Burnett Show during the golden age of television allowed her to work with female comedic greats like Lucille Ball, Phyllis Diller, Lily Tomlin, and Betty White.  During her time on the show, she won one Emmy Award and was nominated five times for her role on the variety show.  Following her appearances on the Carol Burnett Show, Lawrence starred in the NBC show Mama’s Family as Thelma Harper, a character she originally created on the Carol Burnett Show when she was just 24 years old.  Mama’s family aired for five years in first-run syndication, with the final original episode being taped in January of 1990.  To this day, the show enjoys an almost cult-like following and can be seen on a daily basis throughout most of the country.

During a career that spans nearly 45 years, Lawrence has also hosted both a game show and a talk show, recorded a gold album (‘The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia’), and made guest starring appearances on such diverse television shows as Laverne & Shirley, Major Dad, Roseanne, Hannah Montana, and Yes, Dear.

In the first half of Vicki Lawrence and Mama: A 2 Woman Show at the Niswonger, Ms. Lawrence will take to the stage to regale the audience with stories of her time on the Carol Burnett Show, where she will sing, share videos, and her own personal observations about real life.  “My new show will not be a retrospective,” Ms. Lawrence explains . “We are designing a show that is a mixture of stand-up comedy, music and my observations about real life.”

Mama will commandeer the stage for the second half of the show, and according to Lawrence, guests in the audience can expect the unexpected.  ”I think people will get a kick out of the things Mama has an opinion about. We’re creating new material with a more modern and cutting edge. Where Mama is concerned, expect the unexpected,” she said, adding, “there’s really nothing she can’t do.  I hope people will be pleasantly surprised by a side of Vicki they may never have seen.  I know they will be looking forward to Mama, and for her part, that crazy old gal will be up to the challenge.”

The Niswonger Performing Arts Center in Van Wert, Ohio, is the premier performance venue in Northeast Indiana and Northwest Ohio, and is just a brief 30 minute drive from New Haven.  Due to demand for the Vicki Lawrence and Mama: A Two Woman Show, a second show time of 2 pm has been added to Ms. Lawrence’s April 5th appearance.    (The 5 pm show is sold out.)  Ticket prices range in price from $18-$41.  To purchase tickets, log on to the venue’s website at or contact the ticket office at (419) 238-6722.

POSTED: 03/26/13 at 6:39 am. FILED UNDER: Entertainment, News