note: entire contents copyright 2009 by Beverly Creasey
Musical theater loves “women of a certain age.” Bless Jerry Herman for his musicals honoring those indomitable grand dames. The Tonys took note and bestowed their lifetime achievement award to Herman this year. Reagle Players is celebrating the prolific composer/lyricist this summer with three of his most successful shows: The first was HELLO, DOLLY! The current show is MAME, followed in August by La Cage aux Folles.
Way before prime time crime shows went high tech, Buddy Ebsen and Lee Meriwether pursued the bad guys on foot in the hit TV show, Barnaby Jones. That was some time ago, but you wouldn’t know it by watching the youthful Meriwether in Reagle’s MAME, playing through July 25th. The secret to Reagle’s success lies in matching star power with solid work from local theater professionals. The name performer may sell the tickets but it’s the chorus line and the supporting players that make Reagle’s productions pop. Bob Eagle has built a stable of crackerjack singers and dancers who know how to deliver the spark---that indefinable something that sends electricity right out into the audience. Maryann Zschau has it. R. Glen Michell has it and Maureen Brennan has it.
Zschau plays Mame’s “Bosom Buddy,” a melodramatic actress who, like Mame, would never think of getting up before noon. Their idea of breakfast is “coffee and a sidecar.” Their idea of quality time is a party that lasts ‘til the wee hours. When Mame inherits her precocious ten year old nephew, she really doesn’t know what to do with him…or his nanny, played to pokey perfection by Brennan. Both Zschau and Brennan are deft comediennes whose gestural language gets laughs even before they speak.
Michell gets the show stopper we’re all waiting for: “Who charmed the husk right off of the corn…..Who coaxed the blues right out of the horn….Mame!” He’s the quintessential Southern gentleman who champions Mame when everyone else, including his mother (Jane Corrigan gives a hilarious performance), wants this city gal to fall on her face. You know how it all turns out. Mame struts her stuff and gets the handsome guy…and she does a fine job raising her nephew, to boot.
Troy Costa holds his own against the pros as young Patrick and Curly Glynn delivers a star performance as Patrick, the young man. Director Frank Roberts and music directors Rick Scalise and Jeffrey Leonard get first rate work from the ensemble. When the Reagle regulars man the stage, everything works. Susan Chebookjian’s (who re-created Onna White’s original) equestrian choreography steals the show in the Fox Hunt number, complete with galloping jockeys!