Reviewed by Alex Wiggins
Jerry Herman’s musical masterpiece is a fitting start to the turn of the new Roaring Twenties! Based on the original novel by Patrick Denis and play by Robert Lee and Jerome Lawrence, this lively, upbeat musical is a fitting testimony to the first roaring twenties era.
Tracie Bennett is a stunning actress who genuinely lives this part! Her vocals are amazing and her performance as the charismatic, eccentric Mame give the show the authenticity it deserves from such an amazing musical script. Based around the excesses of the rich New Yorkers of the 1920s and the backdrop of the jazz culture of dance and music, the audience are taken on a voyage of discovery as we also witness the ravages of the Wall Street crash and the determination of this social class to continue the lavish lifestyle despite financial (and legal in the Prohibition) set backs.
Mame’s lavish party lifestyle is not altered as she becomes the unwitting guardian of her late brother’s 10-year-old orphaned son Patrick. Rather than fall into the traditional mother role, Mame instead introduces Patrick to her lavish lifestyle and friends with her famous motto “Life is a banquet and most poor sons of bitches are starving to death.” Lochlan White is one of three young actors to play young Patrick and is endearing as the young orphan, as is Chase Brown as the older Patrick.
Despite upset and tragedy, Mame never loses her love of life with comedic interludes even in her saddest days of financial loss, personal loss or grief! When the executors of her brother’s will force her to send Patrick to boarding school she is devastated to have to send him away to a lifestyle she has little respect for. Even the accidental death of her husband (played by the amazing Darren Day) whilst on honeymoon is not as great an impact on her emotion as discovering that her beloved Patrick has turned into an aristocratic snob whilst at boarding school. Upon discovering his intention to marry the equally stuck up Gloria Upson (played by Grace Chapman), the now rich widow invites Patrick, his beau and her parents to a staged party with her extrovert bossom buddy Vera (played to exuberant perfection by Harriet Thorpe) and her now pregnant PA Agnes Gooch (fabulously portrayed by Jessie May) plotting a way to distance the young lovers.
With the plan executed perfectly and the would be in-laws racing away with their daughter, Patrick falls for the young Pegeen Ryan who he eventually marries. The extrovert Mame continues her lavish lifestyle with flair and excitement, if the full knowledge that her Patrick has taken on her love of life.
The set and costumes invite the audience on this journey with Mame, and the music is brought to perfecting life by the live orchestra. If you want to kick off your decade, this is a must see.
Tickets cost from £11 (booking fees may apply)
Mame is at the Royal & Derngate in Northampton from 7-11 January 2020, for more information or to book tickets visit www.royalandderngate.co.uk or call the box office on 01604 624811.
Royal & Derngate, Guildhall Road, Northampton, NN1 1DP | 01604 624811