Mallory Lewis talks about performing with Lamb Chop
By Jessi Virtusio email@example.com Twitter: @JessiVirtusio April 3, 2013 3:36PM
“A Lamb Chop Celebration featuring Mallory Lewis” will be at the Dorothy Menker Theater in Moraine Valley Community College's Fine and Performing Arts Center in Palos Hills on April 6.
‘A LAMB CHOP
♦ 2 p.m. April 6
♦ Moraine Valley Community College’s Fine & Performing Arts Center’s Dorothy Menker Theater, 9000 W. College Parkway, Palos Hills
♦ Tickets, $20 for the general public, $15 for seniors and students and $10 for ages 12 and younger
♦ (708) 974-5500,
♦ An autographic signing will follow the performance
Updated: May 6, 2013 6:07AM
It’s been more than 16 years since puppeteer Shari Lewis died, but her legacy and love for children lives on through her daughter.
“It’s fabulous,” Mallory Lewis said of performing with the beloved character Lamb Chop all over the world.
“A Lamb Chop Celebration Featuring Mallory Lewis” will be at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills on April 6.
“I love my mommy so much,” Lewis said. “ I miss her every day. You never get over losing your mother.
“So, for me, every day I honor my mother when I put on Lamb Chop, and my son knows his grandma and how beautiful his grandma was.
“I was eight weeks pregnant when she died, but she’s very much alive to him.
“I am met with all the love my mommy engendered over all those years. I have so much gratitude for that and respect for that.
“It’s every time I perform that I touch my mother. I feel her.”
The joy when Lewis — who organized four women’s world-record skydiving events with Kate Cooper-Jensen — talks about her show is infectious.
“I like how happy I make people feel. I like the fact that people cry and people share how important my mother was to them,” Lewis said from home in Malibu, Calif.
“I love what I do. I always joke that I’d do my shows for free; I charge for my travel.”
Lewis’ performances, which have included several shows for United Service Organizations, are family-friendly.
“People should come to the show because they’re going to have a really good time,” she said.
“They are going to be able to share something that they love with the little people that they love.
“It’s a great show. It’s great fun. Everyone leaves with a smile on their face.
That’s not to say that “A Lamb Chop Celebration Featuring Mallory Lewis” is only for children.
“My show is not a preschool show,” she said.
“But it is a show that is filled with music and comedy, and the kids get to come up on stage
“There’s audience participation. There’s video. There’s a lot of laughing, and a lot of it would give parents a talking point with their children.
“(Parents can say), ‘When Mommy was little, I watched her mommy on TV.’ It simply is a good time had by all.”
The April 6 performance of “A Lamb Chop Celebration Featuring Mallory Lewis” will top off her time in the Southland, which also will include a curriculum show at a local school.
“What live entertainment does is it is a family activity,” she said. “It’s an activity that doesn’t limit participation by physical skill.
“If it is well-done, which I modestly believe my show is, it is not limited to frame of reference or intellect. It can be enjoyed on many levels.
“It’s a shared activity for a family. Children who are exposed to the arts are likely to participate in the arts.
“I believe that when you see a live person doing something it puts in your head, ‘Oh, I can do that.’
“When you see something happening on TV, it is distant from our own experience.
“Watching somebody on an ice fishing boat on TV doesn’t make you think, ‘I can do that.’ Either way, they are behind the glass screen.
“When you go to a live performance, you excite a child’s sense of potential.”
For those unfamiliar with Lamb Chop, the character was created by Lewis’ mother in the late 1950s and appeared on her network TV show in the 1960s.
The character came to be well-known to a new generation through “Lamb Chop’s Play-Along,” a 1990s PBS TV series that won Emmy Awards for five consecutive years.
Lewis and her mother also won an Emmy for outstanding writing in a children’s series.
“It was great,” Lewis said of the family award. “It was the first and only mother-daugther Emmy.
“My mom and I won it for writing. It was a shared Emmy. Mom was very sweet and let me do the acceptance speech.”
Family is important to Lewis, who said her 14-year-old son, Jamie Hood, is No. 1 on her list.
“I think she would say, ‘You’re doing a good job with Jamie,” Lewis said of what her mom might tell her about her accomplishments.
“Lamb Chop is definitely hugely important to me obviously since I’ve dedicated my life to keeping her alive, but she’s No. 2 behind my boy.”
The puppet is sure to bring back memories for some and create new ones for others.
“People have been living long enough that they’re great-grandparents with their children, who are grandparents who watched with their children, who are parents who want to share it with their children,” she said.
“My show is 80 percent nostalgia. I show footage of Mom. I reference the past because the past is where people live. People live in their memories.
“Lamb Chop hasn’t changed. Little kids still like to see the grown-up being the dummy. That’s been happening since the cave days.
“She still appeals to children who don’t know her just as often as people will say to me, ‘What about the people who don’t know Lamb Chop?’
“They’ll still fall in love with Lamb Chop because she is just adorable and irreverent.
“So I think her continued popularity has to do with the grown-ups. It brings them back to a time when life was simpler for them.
“Being a kid is easier than being a grown-up. You’re not worried about bills. You’re not worried about a sick kid. You’re not worried about the crazy laws our government is making.
“It’s just easier to be a kid. You’re not worried about laundry. You just pick up the clothes on the floor and put them on again.
“It reminds people of a happy, simpler time in their lives. And for little kids, it simply has the same charm that it always has.”
Jessi Virtusio blogs about music, movies and more on Elaborating on Entertainment at blogs.southtownstar.com/entertainment .