At first glance, Mame is a total no-brainer. The original staging was a smash hit, running for four years and spawning productions all over the world for years to come. The story is a classic American tale, previously inseminated into the culture via Patrick Dennis' novel and the hit non-musical, Auntie Mame. There was one revival of the musical (also with original star Angela Lansbury) that bombed in 1983, but we can excuse that failure as a sign of the times—Broadway in 1983 wasn't looking for a 20-year-old facsimile of a chestnut. And Mame is a good show, it ought to work today. The problem is casting. Various camps toss around names like Bernadette Peters, Donna Murphy and Christine Ebersole, none of whom, to me, feels like a perfect fit for the role. Bette Midler might be okay, but she has said she's not interested in doing a musical on Broadway again. Perhaps this one will sit on the shelf until the right star is born.
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