MAME Rides Again at Burlington County Footlighters

by Jessica Martin

Barbara Burke Sherman stars as Mame with Bryce Powell as Young Patrick in Burlington County Footlighters production of MAME, running in Cinnaminson NJ through October 1.

Mame Dennis, probably everyone’s favorite auntie, was first introduced to the public in a novel, Auntie Mame, by Patrick Dennis. Although it is based on his real-life aunt, it is basically fiction. The novel was a best-seller; the play and movie based on it were great hits; and the musical version, MAME, even a greater hit.

Now Mame lives again on the stage of Burlington County Footlighters in Cinnaminson. “Live! Live! Live!” is her motto. Indeed, her zest for living, as well as her love for her orphaned nephew, Patrick, gets her through a series of disasters, some caused by her own shortcomings. She is obviously very wealthy and has never had to make a living. Then comes the stock market crash of 1929 and she loses everything. When her best friend, actress Vera Charles, gives her a small part in a musical, she “brings down the house” in the worst way. As a manicurist, she proceeds to make mincemeat of the fingernails of Southern aristocrat Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside. He doesn’t mind because he has become quite smitten with her. At an early Christmas celebration that she creates to cheer up her household, he proposes to her. However, no sooner are they on their European honeymoon than he falls off a mountain, leaving Mame a widow.

However, she is wealthy again, and is comforted by now-grown-up Patrick and “bosom buddy” Vera. Her lively attention turns to Agnes Gooch, the mousy nanny/secretary whose glamorous makeover has dramatic results, and Patrick, who is about to marry the wrong girl. If you don’t know how their stories turn out, come and see. Come even if you do and join the fun.

Barbara Burke-Sherman is delightful as the indomitable Mame. She is admirably supported by Jenny L. Scudder as Vera Charles, Jennifer Weir as Agnes Gooch, Bryce Powell and Ryan Wyrofsky as Patrick at various ages, and others too numerous to mention. But it would be a shame not to mention lanky Steve Phillips, so likable as Beauregard that you may wish he were on stage longer, and Marti Palmieri, very funny as his mother. The singing ensemble sounded a bit unsure in the earlier musical numbers, but really came alive in the first-act finale, which is the title song. The cast also acted as stage crew, making the numerous and often difficult set changes with great efficiency and handling a technical glitch at the beginning of the show without missing a beat. And by the way, the sets and costumes are gorgeous.

Remember, Mame says that “Life is a banquet.” Enjoy it!

Book by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee
Music and Lyrics by Jerry Herman
Based on the novel by Patrick Dennis
and the play AUNTIE MAME by Lawrence and Lee
Directed by Peg Smith
September 15, 27, 23, 24, 30 and October 1 at 8 PM
September 18 and 25 at 2 PM
Burlington County Footlighters
808 Pomona Road
Cinnaminson, NJ 08077

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