BWW Review: MAME, Hope Mill Theatre
Hope Mill Theatre is known for its excellent musical theatre revivals, and the current production of MAME is no exception. In 1969, Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee's production graced the West End, starring Ginger Rogers; 50 years on, MAME has become one of the lesser-known musicals.
Set in 1920s New York, the eccentric Mame Dennis loses her fortune as a result of the Great Depression. She tries her hand at a fair few jobs, with comedically disastrous results and an irrepressible sense of style, before marrying the Southern aristocrat and plantation owner Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside. However, Mame's life suddenly takes a different turn when there is a knock at the door and she is greeted by a little boy, Patrick, calling her Auntie Mame.
Tracie Bennett returns to Manchester as the larger-than-life Mame, opening the show with "It's Today", giving audiences a great sense of what is to come over the next couple of hours. Bennett is a joy to watch, and it is a pleasure to see the leading lady back in town doing what she's made to do.
Mame's endearing friendship with her BFF Vera, played by Harriet Thorpe, is a heartwarming part of the story, and it's a pleasure to see the relationship blossom on stage.
Philip Witcomb's design is perfectly pitched, setting the scene just brilliantly and transporting you back to the Twenties with monochrome flooring and just the right amount of pizzazz and style - a great reflection of the leading lady, Mame.
The sound design from Ben Harrison is masterful, cleverly echoing memorable moments such as Mame's iconic line "Life's a banquet and most poor sons of bitches are starving to death".
Director Nick Winston also choreographs this production, and his skill really shines through with the incredible balletic dance numbers that are perfect for the intimate spacing of the Hope Mill Theatre.
Overall, MAME brings a big slice of Broadway magic to relatively unknown Ancoats. It's a heartwarming, must-see production that will stick with you - and we can just hope that it isn't another 50 years until its next revival.
Photo credit: Pamela Raith