Theater Review - Don’t Tell My Mother! – A Dramatic Retelling With A Comedic Twist



Nikki Levy introducing at Don't Tell My Mother - photo by Ashly Covington

What won't or don't you want to share with your mother?  Were you a horrible child that didn't tell your mom secrets?  Almost everyone has a story that they haven't told their parents. 


Most comedy writers know that the best laughs come out of sorrow and pain.  It may sound strange, but it's true.  In fact, being able to laugh at your problems is one of the best ways to heal, and Nikki Levy discovered that she could be the impetus for others’ healing. 


Don't Tell My Mother - photo by Ashly Covington

No, Nikki is not a doctor, but a well-known Hollywood producer.  However, as a writer and performer, herself, while she loved working with the writers who came to her, she found her creativity stymied.   


Five years ago, having been burned out by Los Angeles and a difficult relationship, Nikki decided to try something new.  Just as she was planning on returning to her New York home, she gathered a few friends to do a small variety show with comedic stories about what they had not told their mother (or father).  Renting out a little theatre on Fairfax, Nikki was shocked.  The line was down the street. People wanted to hear the stories! 


"It was a total fluke that I did that just as I was about to give up on Los Angeles.  I realized that I loved telling and hearing these kinds of stories, and others did, too." 


Nikki Levy - Writer/Producer of Don't Tell My Mother photo by Loren Philip

Nikki found that it was one thing to help others, but totally different when you had to perform your own words.  Even accomplished actors who usually only say the dialogue given to them by the writers would freeze up with stage fright.  After all, telling one's secrets is exposing them to the world. It became creative therapy. When you have perspective and distance, things can take on a comical aspect.  


She found that people who did stand up and improv did the best.   Writers, who usually like to be isolative in their creativity she learned, were the worst performers.


Don't Tell My Mother!, which is now done usually once a month, became a hit show with numerous celebrities as SNL's Kate McKinnon.  Blackish's Tracee Ellis Ross, the late Doris Roberts, Teri Hatcher, Mary Lynn Rajskub of 24, Fortune Feimster (Chelsea Lately), Allison Tolman (Fargo) and Amy Landecker appearing. Nikki works with each performer on her story to find the gold, the humor, and the emotion – in under ten minutes.  "We'd workshop the story so that the audience would hang on their every word."  Telling some of these stories can be difficult, but telling them in a funny way, making the performer more vulnerable, brings out the human in us. 


Don't Tell My Mother Review - Doris Roberts - photo by Loren Philip

Many of those - some who were struggling actors and who were not known before they appeared here - have since become represented and one actor was hired for an HBO show.  “Agents and managers often recommend their clients for the show, which is the best!”  The evening has become a go-to for industry executives. Stories can be sexual, romantic, drug-related, or anything that happened to you as a child or as an adult.


The show is sponsored by the California Cryobank which freezes eggs, embryos,  sperm, and helps women achieve pregnancy and their dream of a child.  At the October event, one vial of sperm ($800 value) will be raffled off. 


The show has been given several awards - "best of LA" from LA Weekly, and What's Trending called it "best show in LA."  Soon Don't Tell My Mother! will be seen in San Francisco and New York City. 


If someone has a story that they think would be good for the variety write to the site and let them know. 


Don't Tell My Mother Review - photo by Loren Philip

The next show - their 5th anniversary - will take place 7 pm on October 14, 2016, at Busby's East and proceeds will benefit the Los Angeles LGBT Center Women's Network & Youth Center on Highland that provides housing, education and support for homeless teens who have been thrown out of their families for their sexual orientation.   Among the stars of this show are Lance Bass, Dan Bucatinsky, RuPaul's Drag Race star Willam, singer/songwriter Jill Sobule, and music will provided by Abby and The Myth.  While not all shows have themes, this one centers on "Coming Out."


Tickets cost $25-50 and can be purchased at the Don’t Tell My Mother! site. Valet parking is available in the back.  Check out the podcast on iTunes or email Nikki Levy from the show's site.


So? Nu? What story haven't you told your mother? 



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