Review: ‘Mame’ at Stoneham Theatre
- Massachusetts Columnist
This Tony Award-winning Broadway classic centers on the incomparable Mame Dennis, brilliantly played by Kathy St. George, whose carefree life in 1920’s New York City unexpectedly changes when she becomes guardian to her 10-year-old nephew, Patrick. She introduces him to her exciting and unconventional world and together they learn the joy and love that comes from having a family. Wonderfully directed and choreographed by Ilyse Robbins this talented cast brings this fun and heartfelt story to life.
The set, designed by Katheryn Monthei, was black and white with two levels and featured sparkly stars and moon in the background as well as triangular columns that were rotated depending on the scene. Music Director Matthew Stern led the live seven-member band. Sound designer John Stone kept the volume of band well matched with the volume of the vocalists throughout the two and a half hour production.
The opening number, “St. Bridget”, was divinely performed by Ceit Zweil as Agnes Gooch, and Cameron Levesque as Young Patrick Dennis. Both had beautiful vocal tones and their higher notes were lovely to listen to. This number was a solid start to the show and set the barre high for the rest of the performance. The following number, “It’s Today”, showed that the rest of the cast was ready to give the audience a top-notch night of entertainment. “It’s Today” was very upbeat and celebratory and it was clear the cast was having a great time on stage. Their momentum continued with their energetic performance of “Open a New Window Parts I and II”, led by St. George and Levesque.
The choreography in the song “Mame” was especially well performed. It was clean, crisp and fantastically danced by the ensemble who were dressed head to toe in riding outfits. It was certainly one of the best numbers in the show. While everyone was cheerfully singing and dancing, young Patrick was off to the side silently coming to the realization that his Auntie Mame was getting married and thinking that this man was going to take his place. Levesque demonstrated acting skills beyond his years as he silently felt his world crumbling in front of him. His facial expression was full of uncertainty and sadness. As he started singing the act one finale, he was embraced by his Aunt in a way that let him know he would always be the main man in her life.
From the moment St. George stepped on the stage as Mame Dennis in “It’s Today”, she engaged the audience and kept them captivated by her charismatic performance for the rest of the show. Not only does St. George deliver passionate vocals, but incredibly sharp comedic timing and dancing that fully embodied her character. Her witty banter with Vera Charles, played by Mary Callanan, was highly amusing and thoroughly enjoyed by the audience; especially their rendition of “Bosom Buddies” that included tight harmonies and was humorously sarcastic. St. George’s interactions with Levesque are even more wonderful. They were perfectly cast in these roles and their relationship is realistic and genuine. “My Best Girl”, sung by the pair, is so sweet and tender sniffles could be heard from the audience.
Other highlights include a kick line in “We Need a Little Christmas” performed by Mame (St. George), young Patrick (Levesque), Agnes (Zweil) and Tanner (Robert Saoud) that received robust applause from the audience. Callanan’s powerful vocals shined in “The Moon Song”, just as Zweil’s shined in “Gooch’s Song”. Between them and St. George it was clear to see this show wasn’t short on talented female vocalists. Will McGarrahan, as Mr. Burnside, was the quintessential Southern gentlemen. His interactions with St. George were sweet and tenderhearted. St. George’s whole-hearted performance of “If He Walked Into My Life” was powerful and touching. One of the most hilarious moments in the show was when Levesque played bartender for Mr. Babcock (Sean McGuirk) by mixing him up a martini like a pro which generated chuckles and well deserved applause from the audience.
Kathy St. George as Mame is exquisite and her performance is not to be missed. This family-friendly musical is a beautiful reminder of the importance of family, love and a positive outlook on life. © Mame plays at Stoneham Theatre (395 Main Street, Stoneham, MA 02180) until December 23rd. Tickets range between $20-$55 with discounts for Seniors and Students. For tickets or more information visit www.stonehamtheatre.org or call the Box Office at 781-279-2200.
Photo: Kathy St. George as Mame. Photo Credit: Nile Hawver/Nile Scott Shots. Courtesy Stoneham Theatre.
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