Mame is a musical that hasn’t been performed since 1969, but the Hope Mill Theatre take on the challenge of reviving it and they certainly triumph.
Mame Dennis is a party-giver and society girl. Full of charisma and charm, she is a woman that lives for throwing parties and entertaining her friends. When her nephew turns up on her doorstep, without any other family members to turn to, she ends up taking him in. It’s a beautiful story of a woman who finds her purpose to show this young person the world. It’s raucously funny, sensationally lavish and the cast are exceptional.
Tracie Bennett’s portrayal of Mame is show-stopping. She defines theatricality as she brings the flamboyance and flair of the character whilst maintaining the essential warmth and likability. You find yourself rooting for Mame throughout and ultimately want her to come out on top. Bennett’s expression is like no other and being able to witness this in the intimacy of the Hope Mill Theatre is something really special. Her big musical number If He Walked Into My Life is jaw-dropping and a moment that will go down in theatre history.
Bennett’s on-stage relationship with Harriet Thorpe who plays her best friend Vera is endearing to watch. Their constant banter has the audience in fits of laughter as they use sharp wit and comedy timing to deliver their dialogue in a truly memorable way. Their duet Bosom Buddies is a masterclass in musical theatre as they perform a natural chemistry so effortlessly.
Young Patrick, who when I saw it was played by Lochlan White, makes a real impression with his stage presence. Commanding the audience with his every move and strong voice, his rapport with Auntie Mame is sublime to watch unfold. When he then grows up and the role is played by Chase Brown, we see a real depth to their relationship.
Alongside director Nick Winston’s intricate detail to create such unique complex characters, is his spectacular choreography. The ensemble bring it to the next level with their slick precision and immense energy. The musical numbers fill the theatre with dazzling colour and vibrant musicality.
It’s a brave choice from the Hope Mill Theatre, but they’ve proved they’re up to the challenge. Everything about Mame is top-quality and the production values fused with the remarkable cast is a real feast for the senses. It’s an experience as you are quite literally transported into the glitz and glamour of the 1920s as designer Philip Whitcomb has completely transformed the space.
Mame is an exceptionally crafted musical that proves the sky is the limit for the Hope Mill Theatre. Just when we thought they couldn’t lift the bar any higher, they create a piece of theatre that feels as if it belongs on Broadway. The message is moving and the performances are inspiring – it leaves you wanting to ‘Live! Live! Live!’ – reminding us that life is a banquet after all…
Mame is on at the Hope Mill Theatre until Saturday the 9th of November. Tickets and information can be found on their website.
Photo credit // Pamela Raith