Christine Baranski Will Headline as Mame at the Kennedy Center

Written By: Maya Cantu

Christine Baranski has been announced as the next to banquet at Angela Lansbury's old table--she will be playing the title role in Mame. The production will be directed by Eric D. Shaeffer as part of the Kennedy Center's exciting 2005-2006 season.

Mame's history is a long one. The story of a boy's loving but complex relationship with his unconventional aunt, it was first adapted by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee from Patrick Dennis' 1955 fictionalized memoir into a hit play starring Rosalind Russell. A film, also starring Russell, followed. Lawrence and Lee refashioned the piece into a musical in 1966, and it starred Angela Lansbury in one of her greatest roles. She, Beatrice Arthur and Frankie Michaels all won Tonys, and the show was nominated for five others, including Best Musical. The musical was then turned into another film starring a miscast Lucille Ball, and an ill-fated 1983 Broadway revival that also starred Lansbury folded in a little after a month.

Theatre sites have been abuzz for months about Baranski's possibly taking part in the announced Broadway revival of the show. However, it was anyone's guess whether Baranski would play free-spirited Mame or her boozy best friend Vera. She played just that on Cybill, the TV show for which she is best known.

Baranski is a familiar face to theatre and film audiences, as well as to TV watchers. She is a two-time Tony winner for her work in The Real Thing and Rumors, and has also appeared on Broadway in The House of Blue Leaves, Hurly Burly and the flop musical Nick and Nora. Baranski has performed at the Kennedy Center before; she won acclaim (and a Helen Hayes Award) as Mrs. Lovett in the Sondheim Celebration Sweeney Todd. She was sob-sister reporter Mary Sunshine in the Chicago film, and in addition to Cybill, has starred in the failed TV shows Welcome to New York and Happy Family.

Director Schaeffer is best known to New York theatregoers for having directed 1999's Sondheim revue Putting it Together. Most recently, he staged Kathie Lee Gifford's off-Broadway musical, Under the Bridge. He has worked at the Kennedy Center before; he was the artistic director of the Sondheim Celebration and directed productions of Sunday in the Park With George, Passion and A Little Night Music. He has staged many shows at Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA, arguably the premiere Sondheim-centric theatre on the East Coast.

The Kennedy Center's upcoming season will also feature touring productions of Wicked (Dec. 21st 2005-Jan. 15th 2006) and Little Women (June 27th-July 23rd 2006), a new production of Frank Gilroy's The Subject Was Roses (Jan. 7th-29th 2006), the continued residency of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and the premiere of Don DeLillo's new play Love-Lies-Bleeding (June 17th-26th 2006).

Mame will run at the Eisenhower Theatre from February 18, 2006 to March 26, 2006.

The Kennedy Center's website is at http://www.kennedy-center.org


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