Mame's Bugle to Blare in Cleveland and Other Cities Spring 2004, Prior to Broadway

News   Mame's Bugle to Blare in Cleveland and Other Cities Spring 2004, Prior to Broadway Composer-lyricist Jerry Herman has talked about Nederlander Presentations' plan to produce a revival of his Mame on Broadway, and the first sign of its life is the announcement of a spring 2004 engagement in Cleveland.

No creative team, specific dates or casting has been announced, but a handful of cities are expected to host Auntie Mame, nephew Patrick, and the crazy collection of friends in 2004 prior to a Broadway bow in the 2004-05 season. The show is part of the Broadway Series at Cleveland's Playhouse Square (likely for the Allen Theatre) and is billed by the presenter (www.playhousesquare.com) as prior-to-Broadway.

A star is being sought to anchor the show, of course. The 1966 musical was a great hit for Herman, and starred Angela Lansbury, who won the Best Actress (Musical) Tony Award, with Beatrice Arthur (as best friend Vera) and Frankie Michaels (as young Patrick) also taking home Tonys, for featured performances.

No official announcement of a Broadway run has been made, as the show's details are still developing.

Mame is inspired by the novel, "Auntie Mame," and the episodic play of the same name (known as a classic film starring Rosalind Russell). Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee collaborated on the show's libretto, which tells of orphaned Patrick being raised by his hedonistic, free-thinking Aunt, who encourages him to "Open a New Window" and embrace all possibilities in life.

In the show's best-known moment, the title tune, Mame is feted by Southern ladies and gentlemen after a fox hunt at which she snags a new husband. Industry reports have Tommy Tune, who is working with Herman on the Las Vegas musical, Miss Spectacular, attached to Mame, but that could not be confirmed. Tune told Playbill On-Line in late 2002 that his goal is to focus on new works rather than revivals.

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In January 2003, Herman confirmed that he and the Nederlander Organization have entered into an agreement that would bring his three best-known shows, Mame, La Cage aux Folles and Hello, Dolly! back to Broadway in the next five years.

"Jimmy [Nederlander] has been a wonderful friend and a real champion of mine through the years," Herman told Playbill On-Line. "He produced all the revivals of Dolly that he let me oversee. He was one of the producers of La Cage and Jerry's Girls. He's been like my mentor. He called me one day and said, 'OK, it's time for us to do a series of your shows.' We had a lovely talk and we made a verbal agreement that his organization would do Mame first, La Cage second and Dolly third."

Herman said Mame will likely emerge in late 2004, La Cage in 2005 and Dolly sometime after.

"When that year comes," Herman said with a laugh, "if I'm still around, we have to find a new Dolly." (Past Dollys Carol Channing and Barbra Streisand still stick in the public's imagination.)

The Nederlanders have not yet made a formal announcement about the Herman revivals.

Of La Cage, a 1983 hit written with librettist Harvey Fierstein, inspired by the play and film of the same name, Herman said, "My darling Harvey Fierstein has come up with a great idea for a way to do La Cage a second time and still keep it the La Cage that everyone knows — but make it fresh. I don't wanna give away his idea, but it's a lovely way to do it — a more gritty and exciting way to do it."

Is Herman writing anything new?

"I can't even really think of doing anything else now," the busy Herman said. Among other things, he and Tommy Tune are putting together Miss Spectacular for a Las Vegas 2004 launch by producers Kenneth Greenblatt and Ben Sprecher, and Mack and Mabel is still being shepherded by Jon Wilner for a future commercial run, Herman said.

Herman, a resident of Beverly Hills for the last decade, took an apartment in New York earlier this year to have an East Coast nest while he works on various projects. On Feb. 18, a commercial Off-Broadway run of Showtune, a new-to-New-York revue, began at The Theatre at St. Peter's. On March 31 (it closed April 13), Mack and Mabel got a starry New York benefit concert with many different performers rotating in the lead role. The concert was a trimmed version of the recently revised musical about the silent screen legends Mack Sennett and Mabel Normand.

Mame has also been discussed as a TV movie over the past several years, with Cher's name mentioned as a possibility for the small screen.