Review: Glitz, glamour and depth in musical Mame on Northampton stage

Anna Brosnan reviews Mame at the Royal & Derngate, Northampton

Wednesday, 8th January 2020, 10:51 am
Updated Wednesday, 8th January 2020, 10:52 am
Tracie Bennett (centre), front Pippa Winslow, Grace Chapman and Mark Faith in Mame. Picture: Pamela Raith

Like hidden treasure, the musical Mame, has been uncovered, dusted off and shown once more to audiences after an absence of 50 years.

But there is nothing dusty or lacklustre about this terrific piece of theatre which made its way this week to the Royal & Derngate in Northampton.

With Olivier-award winning actress Tracie Bennett in the title role, as the highly inappropriate auntie left in charge of her orphaned nephew, the Mame character is in good hands.

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From the very first scenes, audiences are plunged into the prohibition era of 1920s New York, with all of its glitzy cocktail parties and glamorous characters on display.

These scenes establish Mame as a committed party girl, with a taste for the good life.

Although the musical is light, funny and frivolous throughout, somehow we are allowed to see a little more into Mame's character - a process aided by Bennett's fantastic acting and on-stage charisma.

We discover Mame is warm, loving and progressive, even taking under her wing an unmarried mother who would have been readily shunned by society at this time.

As well as being a fun, dance-filled musical, Mame also serves as a study of attitudes to life, standing firmly against those who live tightly led existences with opinions which look down on those have led different paths.

Mame meets her match in the handsome southern aristocrat Beauregard (played brilliantly by Darren Day), who has wealth but holds a similar attitude of non-judgemental acceptance of those around him.

I tend to unfairly approach theatre involving children with some trepidation, but young Lochlan White gave an outstanding performance as Mame's nephew Patrick. Despite his youth, he already boasts an impressive biography, with credits including ITV's Victoria, as well as the movie Rocketman.

The story hinges on the portrayal of a strong chemistry and bond between a boy and his only surviving relative, which is conveyed brilliantly by Bennett and White.

Tuesday night's play also ended with a touching tribute by the cast to the Broadway legend responsible for Mame's music and lyrics, Jerry Herman, who passed away last month.

His talent will always be remembered through Mame's music as well as other theatrical masterpieces including Hello Dolly!.

* Mame will run in Northampton until Saturday, January 11. For tickets, see www.royalandderngate.co.uk