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Spotlighters Theatre Mame

By • Nov 28th, 2012 • Category: Reviews
Mame
Audrey Herman Spotlighters Theatre
Spotlighters Theatre, Baltimore, MD
Through December 23rd
$20/$18 Senior/$16 Military and students
Reviewed November 16th, 2012

Upon entering for The Audrey Herman Spotlighters Theatre’s production of Mame, the first thing you notice is the beautiful floor design that is painted such that it actually reflects the texture of marble. Little details like this are the things that can make a good production. This production had many of those good details combined with some overlooked details that made for a decent, but not spectacular, production.

Mame chronicles Mame Dennis (Michele Guyton) and her adventures in raising her young nephew, Patrick (Austin Brannan and then James Ruth). While the character of Mame is larger than life, Guyton does not always have the bravado to command the stage. She has a lovely voice and some touching moments, but she is often upstaged by the others that surround her. Both incarnations of Patrick are the exact opposite; they take command of every scene and song that they are in. Brannan is remarkable for someone so young. He is truly alive in every moment with realistic actions and reactions, has amazing sparkle on stage, and has a beautiful voice. The most touching moment of the show, however, belongs to the older Ruth and his heart-breaking, knot-your-insides reprise of “My Best Girl,” following the death of Mame’s husband.

The supporting cast is equally hit or miss. There is a wide spectrum of talent represented. One of the standouts is Greg Guyton as Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside, who has a very real and natural likeability. Another standout is Allie Dreskin as Agnes Gooch. While sometimes over-the-top and sometimes not technically polished, she brings a ton of heart and energy. She is one of the most fun members of the cast to watch and brings real heart and humor to “Gooch’s Song.” Patrick Long is likeable and interesting as Ito. Larry Pinker is appropriately stuffy and frustrated as Mr. Babcock. Barbara Pinker is excellent creating a few of the varied supporting roles. Unfortunately, an example of one of the less successful supporting roles is Eleni Densmore as Vera Charles. In the performance of her show, her stifled acting and brassy voice works for the comedic effect, but, when she brings that same unrealistic portrayal to everything else, it just doesn’t cut it. Several other supporting roles fall into similar traps. Inconsistency throughout is really what hurts that great things about the show from making the entire show great.

What is great is the set. In addition to the floor design, there are changing pictures that reflect the various stages in the lives of the character and attention to detail in the other set pieces. The lighting design is also great. The sound and band were great. The blend of ensemble voices was great. The staging was really good. However, the choreography was really not good. It was many repetitions of jazz squares and other basic steps with little innovation and inconsistent delivery by the cast. It is certainly a tough challenge to choreograph in such a small space, but it is quite possible to do better than this. Better choreography might have gone a long way to improving the overall pace of the show, which seemed to drag.

This was opening night, and it is possible, that aside from the choreography, many of the other inconsistent elements might resolve themselves throughout the several week run, as performers become less nervous or less exhausted from a long tech week. There are several positive elements that are really worth seeing in this show. With a few changes and reworks and an emphasis on consistent energy and pacing, it has distinct potential to be something great.

Photo Gallery

Mame (Michele Guyton) announces a new Holiday - MY PATRICK DAY! Mame (Michel Guyton) and Vera (Eleni Densmore) share a toast to A NEW DAY.
Mame (Michele Guyton) announces a new Holiday – MY PATRICK DAY!
Mame (Michel Guyton) and Vera (Eleni Densmore) share a toast to A NEW DAY.
Patrick (Austin Brannan) is excited to watch the events at Mame's party. Mame (Michele Densmore) introduces Patrick (Austin Brannan) to a new world and promises to open a new window.
Patrick (Austin Brannan) is excited to watch the events at Mame’s party.
Mame (Michele Densmore) introduces Patrick (Austin Brannan) to a new world and promises to open a new window.
Mame (Michele Guyton) challenges Mr. Babcock (Larry Pinker) as he attempts to force Patrick (Austin Brannan) into a restricted and exclusive school. Vera Charles (Eleni Densmore) performs as a lady astronomer in Man in the Moon.
Mame (Michele Guyton) challenges Mr. Babcock (Larry Pinker) as he attempts to force Patrick (Austin Brannan) into a restricted and exclusive school.
Vera Charles (Eleni Densmore) performs as a lady astronomer in Man in the Moon.

Photos by Ken Stanek Photography

Cast

  • Mame Dennis: Michele Guyton
  • Vera Charles: Eleni Densmore
  • Lindsey Woolsey: Leonard Gilbert
  • Agnes Gooch: Allie Dreskin
  • Ito: Patrick Long
  • Young Patrick: Austin Brannan
  • Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside: Greg Guyton
  • Older Patrick: James Ruth
  • Ensemble/Junior Babcock: Lucas Blake
  • Ensemble/Sally Cato: Norma Gomez
  • Ensemble/Mother Burnside: Barbara Pinker
  • Mr. Babcock: Larry Pinker
  • Ensemble/Gloria Upson: Sara Ritmiller
  • Ensemble/Mrs. Upson: Lisa Sharpe
  • Ensemble/Pegeen Ryan: Angela Taylor
  • Ensemble/Ralph Devine/Uncle Jeff: Vince Vuono

Production Team

  • Director: Allan Herlinger
  • Musical Director: Michael Tan
  • Choreographer: Jillian Bauersfeld
  • Assistant Director: Amanda Bennett
  • Stage Manager: Molly Hopkins
  • Lighting Design: Fuzz Roark
  • Set Design: Alan Zemla
  • Costume Design: Laura Nicholson
  • Set Construction: Fuzz Roark & Alan Zemla
  • Scenic Art: Fuzz Roark & Alan Zemla
  • Set Painters: Alan Zemla, Fuzz Roark, Amanda Bennett, & Allan Herlinger
  • Assistant Stage Manager: Jesse Doggett

Disclaimer: Spotlighters Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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has been involved in theatre in the state of Maryland and DC for most of her life. She has acted, directed, choreographed, stage managed, and held a million other odd jobs. She has a B.S. in English from Towson University, and is currently pursuing her Master's Degree to become a Reading Specialist. She is a Maryland State Certified English, Theatre, Elementary, and Mathematics Educator. After teaching English and Drama for many years, she now teaches 6th grade Language Arts at Magnolia Middle School in Harford County, Maryland. She wrote the curriculum currently used in Prince George’s County Public Schools for Drama I and Drama II. She now writes and directs plays and musicals for use in church.

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