MAME

Music and Lyrics by Jerry Hermanmame

Book by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee

Based on the novel Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis

Directed y Dan Kelley

Flamboyant relative alive and kicking after 50 years

Rosalind Russell in 1957, Angela Lansbury in 1966, Lucille Ball in 1974 — these three are the most famous actors to depict one of drama’s most vivid and endearing characters on stage and screen – Mame!

Russell, Lansbury, and Ball, and — now in an intimate Florida theater –Tara Michelle Newinsky takes her turn as this eccentric, larger than life, freewheeling bohemian suddenly saddled with her dead brother’s young son.  But no, she is not saddled – Auntie Mame rises to the occasion – meeting and overcoming every obstacle, from the stuffy executor, Dwight Babcock (Jeffrey Bruce), who wants to control Dennis as a child (Brian Inerfeld)  to the air-headed debutant, Gloria Upson (Nikki Allred),  who sets her cap at Dennis as an adult (Joey Zangardi).

Along the way, she suffers financial losses, attempts and fails at a variety of jobs and ultimately rises above it all when she finds her own romance with a courtly southern plantation owner, Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside  (Danny Prather)

Newinsky may not be as vampy and glamorous as her predecessors, but she does a fine job of bringing warmth into what might so easily be a brittle presentation. She captures the nature of this rare soul who displays an unstinting love of her young nephew, “opening windows” of experience for him by defying convention. It is a very demanding role, as Mame is onstage in nearly every scene.

This vivid depiction of a flamboyant character is reinforced in all of Mame’s relationships, but nowhere more comically and effectively than in the scenes between Mame and arch rival/best friend Vera Charles (Loriann Freda). One of the best moments of the musical is when the two women – one clad in white, the other in slinky black, explain their love/hate relationship in the song “Bosom Buddies.” High praise to Marilyn Wick and Costume World Theatrical (www.costumeworld.com) for the all the glamorous outfits.

Jerry Herman’s songs and lyrics, memorable, just as pertinent and catchy today as when they were written, and presented by talented singers include “It’s today,” “We Need a little Christmas,” and “If He Walked into my Life.” Kudos to Chrissi Ardito for excellent choreography. The whole cast is engaging, and especially with the “Fox Hunt Song,” where shocked onlookers watch Mame on a run-a-away horse dash past them so quickly that she out distances not only the hunt master but the fox itself.

Brian Inerfeld nearly steals the show as the young Patrick Dennis, arriving with his solid, stolid nanny Agnes Gooch (Jill Taylor Anthony).   With a great voice and poise beyond his years, he nails the role. Frumpy Gooch, moving from naivety through experience, via Mame’s encouragement and makeover, is hilarious. The whole cast is excellent and they deserve special praise for their aplomb during the opening matinee for carrying on seamlessly when the stage turntable hit a snag, freezing the set.
To sum up this entertaining evening – if, as Mame asserts, “Life is a banquet, and most poor sons-of-bitches are starving to death,” then this evening of theater is certainly part of the feast.

Recommended

Beverly Friend

friend@oakton.edu

At the Stage Door Theatre, 8036 W Sample Rd, Coral Springs, Florida. Call 954-344-7765, www.stagedoortheatre.com Tickets $38-42 Wednesdays, Thursdays and  Sundays 2 p.m., Thursdays through Saturdays 8 p.m., Sundays 7 p.m. through Feb. 6

For anyone planning a Florida trip, here’s what’s coming up:

Theatre #1

Feb 25-April 10 – Light in the Piazza

April 29-June 19 – Music Man

Theatre #2

Feb 4- March 20 – Plaza Suite