Seattle Theatre Presents MAME

Ruzan Haruriunyan's picture

Everybody's favorite Auntie MAME rings in the New Year in The 5th Avenue Theatre's lavish new production. Producing Artistic Director David Armstrong directs this quintessential Broadway musical, starring three-time Tony nominee Dee Hoty (Footloose, Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public, Will Rogers Follies) in the iconic title role and 5th Avenue favorite Richard White (Kopit and Yeston's Phantom, The Desert Song, voice of Gaston in the Disney film Beauty and the Beast) as her suitor, Beauregard.

They lead a vast ensemble of 39 who "coax the blues right out of the horn" in more than 275 extravagant costumes, designed by 2006 Tony Award-winner Gregg Barnes (Drowsy Chaperone, Legally Blonde, Flower Drum Song). An impossibly tall, sleek staircase curves through the set, which is transformed as the trendsetting Mame revels through a parade of decades, from the art deco glamour of the 1920s to the ultra-modern chic of the 1950s.

MAME tells the hilarious story of an eccentric socialite who finds her madcap Manhattan lifestyle turned upside down when she is appointed guardian of her orphaned nephew. Auntie Mame takes him on one whirlwind adventure after another, proving that "life is a banquet." With a rogue's gallery of memorable characters, MAME has touched the hearts and tickled the funnybones of audiences everywhere. The irresistible score by Jerry Herman (Hello, Dolly!, La Cage aux Folles) includes the title song, "If He Walked Into My Life" and "We Need A Little Christmas."

The original source material, Patrick Dennis' novel Auntie Mame, was the surprise literary sensation of 1955. After being rejected by a dozen publishers, Mame's madcap adventures as a free-thinking heiress spent 112 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, selling more than two million copies in five languages. Once Mame was introduced to a fascinated public, no one medium was big enough to hold her. She moved triumphantly from page to stage to screen, then - in musical form - back to stage and again to screen. In 1958, Rosalind Russell brought Mame to life on stage and on film in Auntie Mame. The stage musical MAME opened on Broadway in 1966 to great acclaim, giving star Angela Lansbury (who won a Tony for the role) a new career as a Broadway diva. In 1974, Lucille Ball took on the role in a movie musical version of the classic story.

The 5th Avenue Theatre's cast features another of Broadway's great leading ladies, Dee Hoty, as Mame Dennis alongside Richard White as her Southern gentleman Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside. Carol Swarbrick (5th Ave: Sweeney Todd, White Christmas) stars as Mame's theatrical sidekick, Vera Charles. Twelve-year-old Nick Robinson (Intiman's To Kill A Mockingbird) has been cast as young Patrick Dennis.

Also featured are Kat Ramsburg as Agnes Gooch, Ben Gonio as Ito, Seán G. Griffin as Dwight Babcock, Laura Kenny as Mother Burnside, Michael Winters as Mr. Upson, Taryn Darr as Gloria Upson, Matt Owen as older Patrick Dennis, Timothy McCuen Piggee as Lindsey Woolsey and Karen Skrinde as Sally Cato. The ensemble includes David Alewine, Jeffrey Alewine, Greg McCormick Allen, Nicholas Beach, Gabe Corey, Michael Ericson, Meaghan Foy, Kristin Gaetz, Krista Gibbon, Timothy Gleason, Bryce Henry, Diana Huey, Brittany Jamieson, Anders Ledell, Nikki Long, Lauralyn McClelland, Cheryl Massey-Peters, Trina Mills, Kasey Nusbickel, Lindsay Powers, Heather Roberts, James Scheider, John David Scott, Jenny Singer, Pamela Turpen, Luke Vroman and Thaddeus Wilson.

MAME is directed by David Armstrong (Sweeney Todd, Company) and choreographed by Dannul Dailey. The conductor/musical director is David Holcenberg (B'way: Mamma Mia, Seussical). The set design is by Walt Spangler and lighting design by Tom Sturge. Ken Travis (B'way: The Three Penny Opera, Barefoot in the Park) is the sound designer, Gregg Barnes (B'way: Legally Blonde, Drowsy Chaperone) is the costume designer and Lynda Salsbury is the associate costume designer. Mary Pyanowski is the hair/make-up designer and Jeffrey K. Hanson is the production stage manager. -- www.5thavenue.org

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