With an entertaining story, catchy songs and absurd characters, the Mines Little Theater production of “Mame” was truly well-done and was an excellent way to spend an evening.
“Mame” follows the story of Mame Dennis (Molly Jane Roby), a free-thinking New Yorker living in the first half of the twentieth century. As the story opens, young Patrick Dennis (Travis Bybee) and his nanny Agnes Gooch (Andrea Switzer) are brought to his only living relative, his Auntie Mame. Although children generally clash with Mame’s partying lifestyle, she quickly becomes attached to Patrick and integrates him into her lifestyle. She encourages Patrick to “Open a New Window,” which leads to a joint tour of the city that ends in arrest. This brings down the ire of Patrick’s trustee Dwight Babcock (Mark Shivers) and culminates in Patrick’s involuntary enrollment in a boarding school on the day of the 1929 stock market crash. Upon losing everything, Mame tries her hand at a number of professions ranging from a manicurist to an actress, but fails hopelessly at all of them. Despite this, she keeps up a good attitude in the face of financial ruin, insisting that “We Need a Little Christmas.” Then, Mame’s sole manicure client, wealthy southerner Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside (Ethan Morton-Gaught), enters and invites Mame, Patrick, Agnes Gooch, and servant Ito (Will Spaeth) to dinner. This ultimately leads to Mame’s visits to Georgia, where she charms even the cattiest of Beauregard’s relatives and promptly marries Beauregard.
As the second act opens, Mame and Beauregard are still on their honeymoon several years later. But Beauregard’s tragic death in the Alps requires Mame to return to New York, where she resumes living out her creed of “Life is a banquet and most poor sons-of-bitches are starving to death.” Her schemes begin to backfire though, as her advice to Agnes Gooch to “live life a little” ends in an unexpected pregnancy and Patrick announces his engagement to an annoying society girl named Gloria (Alex Sale). Patrick’s fiancée’s parents are everything Mame is not – restrictive, traditional, and snobbish. Mame is disgusted and questions what she would do differently “If He Walked Into My Life” today. Despite the obstacles, Mame ultimately gets revenge on Gloria’s family and brings Patrick to his senses in a rousing, happy ending to a rousing, happy play.
Director Stephen Daniel and choreographers Matt Pallai and Molly Jane Roby, as well as the costume and set designers, did an excellent job of portraying the light tone of the show in the limited space available. The choreography in the songs “Mame” and “Open a New Window” are particularly entertaining and fun. The audience must use their imagination sometimes to see everything the characters are, but it is no great imposition. Except for the occasional times when the orchestra drowned out the singers, it was easy to hear and understand the actors as well.
MLT’s production of “Mame” is certainly worth the $3 ticket. The play continues April 15 and 16 at 7:30 PM in Metals Hall.