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Original Broadway Poster
Music Jerry Herman
Lyrics Jerry Herman
Book Jerome Lawrence
Robert Edwin Lee
Based upon Novel by Patrick Dennis
Auntie Mame
Productions 1966 Broadway
1969 West End
1974 Film
1983 Broadway revival

Mame is a musical with the book by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee and music and lyrics by Jerry Herman.

Originally titled My Best Girl, it is based on the 1955 fictional novel Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis and a 1956 Broadway play, by Lawrence and Lee, that had starred Rosalind Russell. Set in New York and spanning the Great Depression and World War II, it focuses on eccentric bohemian, Mame Dennis, whose famous motto is "Life is a banquet and most poor sons-of-bitches are starving to death." Her fabulous life with her wealthy friends is interrupted when the young son of her late brother arrives to live with her. They cope with the Depression in a series of adventures.

In 1958, a film titled Auntie Mame, based on the play, was released by Warner Brothers once again starring Rosalind Russell in the title role. Russell was nominated for an Academy Award and won a Golden Globe for her portrayal.

A musical version entitled Mame starring Angela Lansbury and Beatrice Arthur opened on Broadway in 1966. The production became a hit and spawned a 1974 film with Lucille Ball in the title role, as well as a London production, a Broadway revival, and a 40th anniversary revival at the Kennedy Center in 2006.


[edit] Background and productions

With Hello, Dolly!, Mame and Dear World, Herman was the first songwriter to have three Broadway shows simultaneously playing in their original Broadway runs. Lawrence and Lee revisited the material a fourth time after 1955 novel by Edward Everett Tanner, III (writing under the pseudonym of "Patrick Dennis"), 1956 hit Broadway comedy and the successful 1958 film version of the play with Russell playing Mame in both versions. Tanner wrote several more comic novels, including a sequel, Around the World with Auntie Mame, and Little Me, which was made into a Broadway musical starring Sid Caesar. The success of that musical may have prompted Lawrence and Lee to turn Mame into a musical.[1] Mary Martin turned down the title role, and after numerous actresses had been considered, the part went to Angela Lansbury.[2]

After five previews, the original Broadway production, directed by Gene Saks and choreographed by Onna White, opened on May 24, 1966 at the Winter Garden Theatre. Three years later, it transferred to The Broadway Theatre, where it remained until closing. Between the two venues, it ran a total of 1,508 performances. Besides Lansbury as Mame, the opening night cast included Bea Arthur as Vera Charles, Frankie Michaels as Patrick, Jane Connell as Agnes Gooch, and Willard Waterman (who had played Claude Upson in the 1958 film) as Dwight Babcock. Lansbury, Arthur and Michaels all won Tony Awards, while Saks, White, the writers, Herman, and set designers William and Jean Eckart all received nominations. Celeste Holm, Ann Miller, Jane Morgan, and Janis Paige succeeded Lansbury in the title role. Lansbury left the Broadway production on March 30, 1968, to take the show on a limited US tour while it was still playing on Broadway. The tour played in San Francisco starting in April 1968 and also played Los Angeles.[3][4][5]

The 1969 West End production of Mame starred Ginger Rogers in the title role. It ran for a fourteen month engagement at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane with a special performance for Queen Elizabeth.

Despite the presence of Lansbury, a much-heralded Broadway revival proved to be a commercial bust. After seven previews, it opened on July 24, 1983 at the George Gershwin Theatre, where it ran for only 41 performances.

A 1974 film version of the musical starring Lucille Ball, Bea Arthur as Vera and Robert Preston as Beauregard, attracted an audience but was considered disappointing by the critics because Lucille Ball was considered not up to the musical demands of the title role.

The Kennedy Center production ran from June 1, 2006 until July 2, and starred Christine Baranski as Mame, Harriet Sansom Harris as Vera, with Emily Skinner as Gooch.[6]

[edit] Synopsis

The madcap life of eccentric Mame Dennis and her bohemian, intellectual arty clique is disrupted when her deceased brother's 10-year-old son Patrick is entrusted to her care. Rather than bow to convention, Mame introduces the boy to her free-wheeling lifestyle, instilling in him her favorite credo, "Life is a banquet, and most poor sons-of-bitches are starving to death." Also figuring in the story line are Mame's personal secretary and nanny-in-law, Agnes Gooch; her "bosom buddy" Vera Charles, the baritone actress and world's greatest lush; and Dwight Babcock, the stuffy and officious executor of Patrick's father's estate. Mame loses her fortune in the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and tries her hand at a number of jobs, with comically disastrous results, but perseveres with good humor and an irrepressible sense of style.

Mame eventually meets and marries Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside, a Southern aristocrat with a Georgia plantation called Peckerwood. The trustees of Mame's late brother (Patrick's father) force Mame to send Patrick off to boarding school (St Boniface, in Massachusetts), and Mame and Beau travel the world on an endless honeymoon that finally ends when Beau falls off an Alp. Mame returns home a wealthy widow to discover that Patrick has become a priggish snob engaged to an empty-headed debutante, Gloria Upson, from a bigoted family. Mame brings Patrick to his senses just in time to introduce him to the woman who eventually will become his wife. As the story ends, Mame is preparing to take Patrick's young son Peter to India (Siberia in the 1974 film version) with her usual flair.

[edit] Musical numbers

Act I
  • St. Bridget − Patrick Dennis, age 10 and Agnes Gooch
  • It's Today − Mame Dennis and All
  • Open a New Window − Mame Dennis and All
  • The Man in the Moon − Vera Charles, Mame Dennis and All
  • My Best Girl − Patrick Dennis, age 10 and Mame Dennis
  • We Need a Little Christmas − Mame Dennis, Patrick Dennis, age 10, Agnes Gooch, Ito and Beauregard Jackson Picket Burnside
  • The Fox Hunt − Uncle Jeff, Patrick Dennis, age 10, Cousin Fan, Mother Burnside and Cousins
  • Mame − Beauregard Jackson Picket Burnside and All
Act II
  • Mame (Reprise) − Patrick Dennis, age 10 and Patrick Dennis, age 19-29
  • My Best Girl (Reprise) − Patrick Dennis, age 19-29
  • Bosom Buddies − Mame Dennis and Vera Charles
  • Gooch's Song − Agnes Gooch
  • That's How Young I Feel − Mame Dennis and All
  • If He Walked into My Life − Mame Dennis
  • It's Today (Reprise) − Mame Dennis and All
  • My Best Girl (Reprise) − Patrick Dennis, age 19-29
  • Open a New Window (Reprise) − Company and Mame Dennis

In 1966, Bobby Darin, Louis Armstrong, and Herb Alpert all charted in the United States and Canada with their cover records of the musical's title song. Eydie Gormé had a huge success with her recording of "If He Walked into My Life", for which she received a 1967 Grammy Award for Best Female Vocal Performance. "We Need a Little Christmas" is a well known holiday tune and can be heard in several Disney Christmas parades.

[edit] Awards and nominations

[edit] 1966 Tony Award nominations

[edit] Theatre World Awards

  • 1966 Theatre World Award - Jerry Lanning (WINNER)
  • 1967 Theatre World Award - Sheila Smith (WINNER)

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Allmusic's review of Mame
  2. ^ Information from the site
  3. ^ Zolotow, Sam.New York Times, December 29, 1967, p. 17
  4. ^ New York Times, "Mame Realigning Cast for Departing Star", March 13, 1968, p. 39
  5. ^ Windeler, Robert.New York Times, "Angela Lansbury a Hit in Coast 'Mame'", June 29, 1968, p. 19
  6. ^ Playbill News: Christine Baranski Mame Will Not Play Broadway

[edit] External links

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