Von Essen, who co-starred with Charles Busch in a limited tour of the play Auntie Mame, will play Patrick Dennis in the D.C. production, which begins performances Feb. 18, 2006. About his upcoming role, von Essen told Playbill.com, "Needless to say, I'm thrilled. I loved doing the play — can't wait to do the musical. And work with Christine Baranski? Hello! I'm psyched."
Eric Schaeffer will direct the Jerry Herman musical about the free-spirited Mame Dennis and her young nephew Patrick. The limited engagement will run through March 26 at the Eisenhower Theater. No other casting has been announced.
It's a busy time for von Essen, who just completed a run as the Emcee in the Sacramento Music Circus' production of Kander and Ebb's Cabaret. He is currently in rehearsals for a new production of Umbrellas of Cherbourg, which will play the Two River Theater Company in Red Bank, NJ, beginning Sept. 22.
Von Essen also recently appeared Off-Broadway in Finian's Rainbow and in the Paper Mill Playhouse production of The Baker's Wife. On Broadway the actor has been seen in Dance of the Vampires, Jesus Christ Superstar and Les Misérables; his other Off-Broadway credits include The Fantasticks and John & Paul. Von Essen's regional credits are numerous and include Dorian the Musical, My Fair Lady, Hair, Blood Brothers and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. He was part of the all-star benefit concert of Children of Eden as well.
Mame, based on Patrick Dennis' novel "Auntie Mame," features a score by Jerry Herman and a book by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee. The original Broadway production opened in May 1966 at the Winter Garden Theatre with Angela Lansbury as Mame and Bea Arthur as Vera Charles. Both Lansbury and Arthur won Tony Awards for their work. A subsequent film version cast Lucille Ball as the vivacious Mame. The classic Herman score includes such tunes as "If He Walked Into My Life," "It's Today," "Open a New Window," "Mame," "Bosom Buddies" and "We Need a Little Christmas." Tickets for the Kennedy Center's production of Mame will go on sale to the general public Nov. 7. For more information visit www.kennedy center.org.