This review appeared in The Davis Enterprise on 1/11/07
If you want a good looking musical theatrical experience, make certain that your show is directed by a choreographer, and costumed by an experienced costumer. The opening chorus of Jerome Lawrence & Robert E. Lee’s “Mame,” Jerry Herman’s musical adaptation of Patrick Dennis’ delightful book, “Auntie Mame” is a visual delight, thanks to director/choreographer Ron Cisneros. From Jeannie Henderson’s colorful and opulent appearing costumes to the precision of the chorus, it is a sample of the kind of good things that can be done with community theater.
The production itself, however, is spotty and does not maintain the level set by the opening chorus throughout. There are both good things and bad things about the production.
It is nice to see Mary Young given something other than matronly roles for a change. She doesn’t quite pull off the “flamboyant” Auntie Mame, but does a credible job with a huge role as the free spirit who suddenly finds herself saddled with her brother’s child, following the death of the child’s parents.
Thirteen year old Andrew Lampinen was an unfortunate choice to play the young Patrick. He is nearly as tall as his aunt, making description of the games played at his progressive school sound less innocent than they were intended. As Andrew has performed in 19 musicals with DMTC, I am assuming that he had the great misfortune to go through a sudden voice change during rehearsal, as none of his songs were in his key and he had great difficulty with all of them. That said, however, he is a talented young actor and brings great depth and pathos to the part. His duet with Mame, “My Best Girl,” following a disastrous incident in play in which she had been cast, was very poignant and one of the sweeter moments of the evening.
As the grown up Patrick, Robert Coverdell is excellent. Coverdell also appears as part of the ensemble throughout the first act and displays, yet again, his talent for dance and the handsome figure that he presents on stage.
Making her DMTC debut, Peggy Schechter plays Mame’s best friend, the famous actress Vera Charles, who seems to spend her time either bored or drunk or both, but who obviously cares for Mame and comes to her aid when Mame has reached her lowest point.
William Hedge gives a solid performance in the role of Beauregard Picket Jackson Burnside, the southern gentleman who falls in love with Mame while she is giving him a manicure.
Dannette Vassar, who is getting larger roles these days, was a perfect choice for Mother Burnside. The diminutive actress becomes larger than life as the commanding matron of the Burnside clan.
Wendy Young is outstanding as Sally Cato. Her lifetime in theater shows in her stage presence and she is deliciously catty toward her former fiancee’s girlfriend when Mame visits the family plantation.
Agnes Gooch is everybody’s favorite nerdy female character and Monica Parisi does well with her. Her transformation into glamour girl was a bit less spectacular than it should have been (couldn’t a wig have been used to give her a more glamorous appearance?), but her return to Mame’s house, heavy with child, was very funny.
Rebekah Shepard was perfectly cast in the small role of Gloria Upson, Patrick’s snobbish society fiancee, an airhead who would rather discuss rinsing her hair with beer than anything more serious. Shepard had the upper crust New England accent down perfectly.
There was a strange set decision made by designer Steve Isaacson (who also plays Mr. Babcock, the trustee for young Patrick’s estate). Mame’s living room has one couch mid-stage, one easy chair on the far right and another easy chair on the far left. Had things been staged differently, it might not have been so noticeable, but with Mame sitting in one chair and Mr. Babcock sitting in the other, they had to practically yell at each other across the vast expanse of stage in order to have a conversation.
People in the audience, and in the lobby following the performance seemed to enjoy the show very much. I would not list this among the best the company has done, but this is a hard working group and their dedication to DMTC shows.