BWW Review: MAME - Classic Steps Onto The Palace Stage

BWW Review: MAME - Classic Steps Onto The Palace Stage

Classic stage spectacle, MAME by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee with lyrics by Jerry Herman, makes its way to the Georgetown Palace Theatre to take away the winter blues and get your toes tapping.

The musical took a curious route to Broadway, starting as the autobiographical book 'Auntie Mame' by Patrick Dennis (Aidan Lindsey and Brandon Lindsey play the younger and older Patrick respectively) about his eccentric upbringing by his bohemian aunt, Mame Dennis (Michelle Cheney). Just a year after the book was published in 1955, the play AUNTIE MAME by Lawrence and Lee made its way to Broadway as a straight play, it wasn't until the mid 1960's that the musical was born with Angela Lansbury in the title role. The story takes us to the 1920's household of Patrick's Auntie Mame, who along with her best friend Vera (Betty Ortwein), is in the middle of a roaring party fueled by bathtub gin and New York City's oddest characters. The young Patrick (Adam Lindsey) is immediately enraptured by his aunt but his uptight trustee, Mr. Babcock (Dana Barnes) is certain Mame will lead the child astray and succeeds in sending him off to a conservative boarding school. Meanwhile, Black Monday brings the stock market crash of 1929 and our heroine is forced to find a job for the first time. She is a disaster at everything but succeeds in meeting the love of her life, Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside (Kirk Kelso) who sweeps her off her feet and takes her to Peckerwood, his southern family home. Suffice it to say that the irrepressible Miss Dennis wins (almost) everyone over and there's a musical theatre happy ending in the offing. With iconic numbers like 'Mame', 'We Need A Little Christmas' and 'Bosom Buddies', MAME is a can't miss hit of classic musical theatre.

The opening night performance I attended was a little shaky on its feet but those opening night oopses should iron out during the run. In the hands of stage pros like Cheney, Ortwein and Kelso the entertainment flows freely and there are laughs and smiles aplenty. It's always a joy to watch Michelle Cheney and her Mame Dennis will be one to remember for a long time. Betty Ortwein as actress Vera Charles is hilarious, her comic timing impeccable. As Beau, Kirk Kelso is all southern charm and gentility, winning the heart of Mame and the audience as well. Other cast members worthy of note are the adorable Lindsey brothers playing Patrick at different ages, having talented siblings in the roles is a definite casting coup. In her dual role as Mother Burnside and Mrs Upson, Jennifer Tucker is hysterical in both parts. As Sally Cato, Samantha Ricker Watson shines as Beauregard's jealous ex-fiancé. The cast as a whole does an outstanding job of keeping the show heartfelt and endearing. Costuming by A Cut Above Costumes are beautiful and perfectly suited to the period. Music direction by Rose Yurcina is excellent as is Jesee Smart's choreography, though both looked a bit under rehearsed on opening night. It's the technical aspects of the show that are sadly lacking, including a lighting design that has several very dark spots on stage, scenery painting that is seriously below Palace standards and scene changes that are deathly slow and extremely under rehearsed. A single follow spot operator failed to keep the light still at all and the actress tried to remain lit during the scene fought the good fight against the aimless wandering of the light tech in charge of that instrument, it has been a very long time since I've seen problems like this during a Palace production. Newcomer, Director Jim Lindsay lets his cast down by not creating a seamless framework for their performance. His work shows an uneven hand and poor control over technical quality, something every director must command fully. I can't help but believe the production would have been more polished in the hands of one of the veteran directors who have been so very successful over recent years. If the talent level on stage were less than stellar the show would fall into the 'average community theatre' range. The Georgetown Palace production of MAME is definitely worth the ticket price where else can you see such a classic show with such memorable performances by some of our area's best?

Book by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E Lee
Music and Lyrics by Jerry Herman
Directed by Jim Lindsay
The Georgetown Palace Theatre, Georgetown, TX

February 23 - March 25

Running Time: 3 hours, 10 minutes, with one 15 minute intermission

Tickets: $32 - $29, $18 Student Rush Tickets at the door with student ID

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From This Author Lynn Beaver

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