As a grown man, I still wear the scars inflicted in childhood by my wonderful mother. I recognized her approach from afar by the click of her high heels, which boomed down hallways in my school. The sound filled me with anxious anticipation, because it always seemed like I was the last person waiting to get picked up. The nadir of our relationship was a family trip to Florida with my aunt and younger sister. I was twelve. In the car on the way down I made the mistake of air drumming the break on a hit Van Halen song. At the resort my mother, my aunt, my sister and I went to the (apparently all ages) dance club, and when the DJ played that track, my mom dragged me out onto the dance floor to dance with her. At the drum break she mimicked my imitation of Alex Van Halen and gestured for me to join in. Need I say more?

So I empathize with Emma (Lauren Weintraub), the star of My Mom Is Trying to Ruin My Life, when she wonders how much better her life would be if her sincere but annoying mom and dad were arrested by Officer Smith and put in jail. She would be free! Free to ride her bike without her helmet, free to climb dangerous cliffs and free to stay up all night with her light on, reading until her eyes fell out. Being a dad, I also empathize with Dad (Andrew Hubacher) who has to enforce the rules of the house. In fact, I pretty much empathized with everyone in the play. It is a timeless tale well told: the transition from childhood to adulthood, from needing and wanting the support and guidance of your parents to needing and wanting to try the world on your own, and discovering that no matter how old or independent you get, you still need and love mom and dad.

The star of the piece is Lauren Weintraub who makes her New York debut in My Mom Is Trying to Ruin My Life. She gives an energetic and nuanced performance that shows a lot of talent. Her star turn is facilitated immensely by the other children in the cast — Maddie Glass, Claire Kwon, Noah Marlowe, Sydney Ryan Robles, Madisyn Shipman, Marielle Smith-Goldson and Ashton Woerz — who are cute and and talented and act better than some grown-ups I’ve seen. The grown-up actors are wonderful, especially Kayla King, whose characterization of Mom almost made me cry (!). The grown-ups behind this show are no slouches, either: Kate Feiffer and MJ Bruder Munafo have written a classic story; and Paul Jacobs’s music with Sarah Durkee’s lyrics had the audience bopping their heads and flashing smiles to each other.

My Mom Is Trying to Ruin My Life is a very charming, very entertaining piece for everyone in the family.

Through March 10th at Workshop Theater