Sunday, December 04, 2016

Stoneham Theatre Enchants With "Mame"- We Need A Little Christmas!

I have long loved the story of Auntie Mame - in the classic Rosalind Russell film version, and in the musical version, "Mame," that first lit up the Broadway sky in 1966. With hummable tunes and memorable lyrics by Jerry Herman and an uplifting story line by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee (no - not that Robert E. Lee), the play is perfect for elevating our spirits in the post-election doldrums many of us have been experiencing.

Award-winning Director and Choreographer Ilyse Robbins has assembled a marvelous cast, anchored by the irrepressible Kathy St. George in the title role of Mame. She is joined by fellow Broadway veteran Mary Callahan in the role of Mame's best friend, Vera. These two ladies and the rest of the terrific cast are well supported by the craftsmanship and musicianship of the following: Musical Direction by Matthew Stern, an impressive set designed by Kathryn Monthei, incredible costumes by Tyler Kinney, effective Lighting by Jeff Adelberg and well modulated Sound by John Stone. Kudos to the hard working backstage crew for facilitating dozens of rapid costume changes throughout the show.

Stoneham Theatre
Through December 23rd
Photo by Nile Hawker/Nile Scott Shots
This production of "Mame" is a total delight, with great singing, dancing, and some memorable acting performances. Ms. St. George is not only irrepressible, she is irresistible in this role.  She had the audience eating out of her bejewelled hand from her first entrance. Her renditions of "Open A New Window," "My Best Girl" sung with Patrick (understudy Asher Navisky in the performance I attended), and her duet with Vera, "Bosom Buddies," are all highlights. Best of all is her rendering of the poignant "If He Walked Into My Life."

Other principal cast members add their own secret sauce to their richly drawn characters.
  • Ceit Zweil is outstanding in the juicy role of Agnes Gooch, Mame's secretary. Heeding Mame's advice to go out into the world and live, she returns to Beekman Place as a bachelor girl who is great with child. Her belting out "Gooch's Song" is a show stopper.
  • The incredibly versatile Robert Saoud plays Tanner, Mame's superannuated butler. His physical comedy is a treat, especially when he mimics Gooch's third trimester waddle as the two of them ascend the center staircase. This bit of hamming it up elicited an enthusiastic round of applause from the full house.
  • Will McGarrahan is wonderfully solicitous of Mame as the Southern plantation owner, Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside. She wins his heart and his hand, and eventually his fortune after Beau's unfortunate encounter with a too steep Alp. The actor also doubles as Mr. Upson.
  • Margaret Ann Brady is the formidable mother of Beau, Mrs. Burnside. She is initially vehemently opposed to the Yankee Mame, but after Mame pulls a surprise coup in re-inventing the fox hunt, Mrs. Burnside relents. She figuratively embraces Mame, clasping the Northerner to her more than ample dowager's bosom, and approving of the match with her son. Ms. Brady does double duty as Mrs. Upson, snooty mother of Patrick's fiancee, Gloria.
  • Sarah Kawalek is the dim-witted and spoiled socialite, Gloria Upson. She and her parents almost succeed in enticing Patrick's affections and values away from those of Mame, but Auntie Mame has a few tricks up her sleeve to right the listing ship.
  • Katie Anne Clark is Sally Cato, Beau's longstanding intended bride and Southern belle par excellence. But she is no match for the charms of Mame, who wins the verbal and tactical cat fight without suffering a scratch.
  • Matty Rickard brings a fine voice to the role of Older Patrick, and he shines in the reprises of "My Best Girl."
The Cast perform the title song
Stoneham Theatre
Through December 23rd
Photo by Nile Hawker/Nile Scott Shots
  • Sarah Mass plays Pegeen Ryan, a decorator who is part of Mame's plot to stifle the Upsons. Patrick eventually marries Pegeen instead of Gloria.
  • John O'Neil is M. Lindsay Woolsey, publisher of Mame's memoir and her longtime confidant.
  • Sean McGuirk plays the irksome banker and trustee of Patrick's affairs, Dwight Babcock. He is full of self-importance and rectitude.
  • His son, Junior, is played by Rhys Scheibe. He and Patrick become roommates at school.
  • Other ensemble members, who add excellent dancing and singing to the production numbers are Serge Clivio, Meryl Galaid, Brian Pereira, Izzy Richards, and Hannah Shihdanian.
Cameron Levesque as Young Patrick
Kathy St. George as Mame
Robert Saoud as Tanner
Ceit Zweil as Gooch
Stoneham Theatre
Through December 23rd
Photo by Nile Hawker/Nile Scott Shots

It is no secret that we all "Need A Little Christmas" - even before the calendar tells us that it is time to open the presents. So give yourself an early stocking stuffer and head to Stoneham for this wonderful, charming and inspiring musical. "Life is a banquet . . . " quoth Mame and Patrick. There is no reason for any of us to starve ourselves. Click below, and "Open A New Window" on your computer screen and order tickets.

Through December 23rd.



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