Christine Ebersole stars as the extravagant Auntie Mame, with Kelly Bishop as her drunken best friend, Vera Charles, in the Sept. 8-Oct. 24 revival of Jerry Herman's musical, Mame, at Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ.
Rehearsals for the production, which will feature another of Paper Mill's typically elaborate scenic designs (by Michael Anania), began in New York City Aug. 12. Producer Angelo Del Rossi said the physical staging will be the most spectacular since the Broadway original in 1966. Official opening is Sept. 10.
Ebersole most recently appeared in the "Encores!" concert version of Ziegfeld Follies of 1936 in roles originally created by Eve Arden. Her Broadway credits include Oklahoma! and Getting Away With Murder. She also starred in the musical Paper Moon, at Paper Mill.
Bishop has performed on Broadway in Last Night of Ballyhoo, Proposals, Six Degrees of Separation and A Chorus Line, for which she received a Tony and Drama Desk Award, for playing icy Sheila.
Artistic director Robert Johanson directs and Michael Lichtefeld choreographs this major new revival, the first in the New York City area since a Broadway revival starring Angela Lansbury quickly folded 15 years ago. The late Juliet Prowse starred in a national tour of the musical in the early 1990s. Mame, which has a book by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, based on their hit play adaptation of Patrick Dennis' novel, "Auntie Mame," opened May 24, 1966, at the Winter Garden Theatre, where it ran 1,508 performances. Lansbury and Beatrice Arthur starred.
Joining Ebersole and Bishop will be Sandy Rosenberg (The Scarlet Pimpernel) as Mame's personal secretary, Agnes Gooch; Paul S. Iacano (who has often appeared on the "Rosie O'Donnell Show") as Mame's young nephew, Patrick; Dan Schiff as Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside, Mame's southern gentleman suitor; Ken Barnett as Patrick (aged 19-29); Tony Romero as Mame's butler, Ito; and Danette Holden as Gloria Upson.
Jerry Herman, who has often called the score one of his favorites, penned such tunes for it as "Mame," "We Need A Little Christmas," "Bosom Buddies," "If He Walked Into My Life" and "Open a New Window."
The ensemble also includes Hayes Bergman, Stanley Bojarski, Susan Cella, Peter Cormican, Jennifer Howard, Peter Huck, Eric H. Kaufman, Matt Lashey, Sara Lepere, Mark MacKay Lusk, Melissa Rae Mahon, Marianne Martin, William McCauley, Regina O'Malley, Jody Reynard, Marian Steiner, Laurie Sondermeyer, Erin Swanson and David Titus.
In addition to Anania, designers are David Murin (costumes) and F. Mitchell Dana (lighting).
-- By Kenneth Jones
and Christine Ehren