Act Two's 'Mame' entertains with a number of sparkling moments

April 02, 1992|By Winifred Walsh | Winifred Walsh,Contributing Writer

Act Two Dinner Theatre is currently presenting a pleasantly entertaining version of the 1966 musical "Mame," through May 24.

Based on the Patrick Dennis novel, "Auntie Mame" (which was the basis of the 1954 play), this local production, nicely staged by Daniel L. McDonald, has some sparkling moments.

Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee wrote the script and the bouncing music and lyrics are by Jerry Herman.

The effervescent score, with its catchy title song, includes such memorable numbers as "Open a New Window," "We Need a Little Christmas," "That's How Young I Feel," "If He Walked into My Life."

The action takes place from 1928 to 1946 in Mame's Beekman Place home. Believing that life is a banquet that must be enjoyed to the fullest, Mame raises her orphaned nephew, Patrick, in a free-thinking, bohemian atmosphere.

After losing her money in the stock market crash, Mame meets and marries a rich Southern aristocrat who unfortunately dies during a mountain-climbing trip.

Meantime, the grown Patrick has become engaged to Gloria, a feather-brained snob. This union the iron-willed Mame is determined to break.

The overall pace of Act Two's show could stand a swifter rhythm and some of the performances are uneven. But the chorus work and dancing (choreographed by Kevin E. Smith) is enjoyable.

The funny "Bosom Buddies" number is well executed by Pat Putsche Zinn as Mame and Dottie Mach as Mame's best friend, Vera. Clad in exotic costumes, her husky voice ringing clear, Ms. Mach gives this jaded character vibrant life.

Helen Nathan is hilarious as the unfortunate Agnes Gooch, who drops her mousy demeanor and turns into a "red-hot mama" ready for some real living.

John Gullucci is charming as the Southern suitor and Pamela Byrnes is a riot in three different roles.

Jordan Siebert is first-rate as the young Patrick and John A. Rose is convincing as the older Patrick. But Jill Austin as the snooty Gloria overdoes her character.

Although Ms. Zinn is an affable Mame, she is not putting nearly enough flamboyance and colorful zaniness into the role. However, she executes her songs very well (although the "If He Walked Into My Life" number needs a lot more heart).

*

A wonderfully bright and perky production of Meredith Willson's 1957 classic, "The Music Man," is currently running at the Burn Brae Dinner Theatre through June 21.

The Burn Brae version has been admirably directed by Rodney B. Fayman with fine vocal direction by Tom French and excellent choreography by Diane Hamilton.

The show, which sometimes takes its action into the audience, sails along at a crisp clip and never lets down.

Among the notable numbers are "76 Trombones," "The Sadder But Wiser Girl," "Goodnight, My Someone" and "'Til There Was You." The snappy "Shipoopi" song and dance number is an absolute delight.

Arthur Laupus turns in a terrific performance as the slick traveling salesman cons the naive residents of River City, Iowa in 1912 into believing he can teach their kids how to play the band instruments he presses them to buy.

Kate Campbell Stevenson as Marian the librarian (who persuades Hill to go straight) is a lovely, luminous actress. Her superb, lilting soprano is the finest we have heard to date on the Maryland musical theater circuit.

The mellow singing of the barbershop quartet (Michael Quinn, Michael Patrick Foster, Steven Wolf and John Guyton) and the outstanding chorus of "Pick-a-Little" gossiping ladies (Karen Marsh, Sharon Di Costanzo, Liz Schulman) add to the amusing ambience of the show.

Dick David in the funny role of the town's bungling mayor disappoints with a weak, poorly timed performance. Mike Carruthers has to give his role of Marcellus more comedic punch.

But good performances are given by the rest of the supporting cast: Andy Bowser as the young Winthrop, Kathleen Hammen as his mother, Melissa DeLiza as Amaryllis, Jeff Schankle as Tommy, Debi Heartley as Zanita, Rick Stohler as Charlie and Phyllis Goldblatt as the mayor's wife.

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