Presented by the Stoneham Theatre
Book by Jerome Lawrence & Robert E. Lee
Music & lyrics by Jerry Herman
Based on the novel by Patrick Dennis, and the play Auntie Mame by Lawrence and Lee
Directed and choreographed by Ilyse Robbins
Music direction by Matthew Stern
Review by Kitty Drexel
“Put the blame on Mame, boys
Put the blame on Mame
Mame gave a chump such an ice-cold “No”
For seven days they shovelled snow
So you can put the blame on Mame, boys
Put the blame on Mame”
“Put the Blame on Mame,” from the film “Gilda” (1946), by Allan Roberts & Doris Fisher
(Stoneham, MA) Stoneham Theatre’s production of Mame dazzles. It’s a classic show with all the trimmings. Themes of classism and resulting conflicts will be only slightly offensive to gossipy, snooty attendees. It’s a nearly perfect Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa/etc. treat that anyone from any doctrine can enjoy.
Mame is a love story between an aunt and her nephew. It is the roaring twenties. Title character, Mame (Kathy St. George), is an uber rich bohemian with a penchant for lush parties. She adopts her orphaned nephew, Patrick (Asher Navisky), and immediately welcomes him into luxurious her life with loving arms. Rock meets hard place when lawyer Dwight Babcock (Sean McGuirk) sends Patrick to an exclusively white, rich, uptight boys school. When adult Patrick returns, Mame must deprogram him with song and dance.
Kathy St. George was born to play Mame. This role is such a natural fit; it’s as if Mame were written for her. She delivers a gorgeous performance.
Kathy St. George and Mary Callahan (as Vera Charles) looked both glamorous, and comfortable. Bravo to costume designer Tyler Kinney!
Ceit Zweil is hilarious as Agnes Gooch. She navigates Gooch’s small tragedies with the unpolished bravery of Liz Lemon from 30 Rock. She’s also a stark reminder that Sex Education is a necessary part of every person’s upbringing. Society can’t deny children a proper understanding of baby-making and then wipe their hands of any deviations. We are responsible for each other. So for Heaven’s sake, get that woman a prophylactic!
The agile, art deco set design in silvers and blacks by Katheryn Monthei is balanced chic. The Lazy Susan platform that whisked away actors on a moment’s notice was a nice touch.
There are two picky details that need amending: The ensemble diction was sloppy throughout. We couldn’t understand them. B.J.P. Burnside’s (Will McGarrahan) accent appeared and disappeared like magic. I wasn’t aware that magic was included in the production.
Lastly, Stoneham Theatre, please mic your pre-show announcers. She was giving us important information. None of us could hear her over the helpful cries of, “we can’t hear you,” cawing from the audience. For our sake, and for hers, please amplify your announcer’s voice.
It’s exhausting how fun this show is. Mame is chock full of upbeat, fun, relatively easy to learn music, and dialogue to entice performing artists, and students. It has a catchy score, and an open-minded, thoughtful book to appeal to liberal audiences. It offers hope in a time of great apathy. It’s a great way to celebrate any holiday.
We have elected a tangerine ass-bugle bigot with scrawny hands, thin skin, and terrible hair to the office of the President. The theatre community has every reason to be scared that the national budget for the arts will be slashed. It will be. Certain republicans tend to disrespect experimental, avant-garde, or simply new art. If it challenges the white, straight, hetero status quo, they tend to be against it. New things frighten them with their difference. Belts will need to be tightened. For the love of all that’s sacred, keep creating your art despite this painful bullshit. If you need help, ask for it. Our existence is our resistance. Please keep fighting the good fight. – KD
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