It’s hard to beat a good coming of age story–particularly one involving a recently orphaned boy, a crazy auntie, bathtub gin, and most of the rhinestones in Portland. Lakewood Theatre in Lake Oswego brings it all to the stage in its charming and energetic production of the popular musical Mame! (Book by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, music & lyrics by Jerry Herman.)
Young Patrick (Hudson Hale) arrives on his bohemian auntie’s (Jennifer Goldsmith) doorstep in New York City while she is deep into a party–a common occurrence in her uncommon life. What is she going to do with this kid? She’s going to love him to death and show him things “you never dreamed existed”. Heady words for a kid who has been pre-programmed to grow up to be a prig.
Enter Mr. Babcock (David Sargent), young Patrick’s trustee, whose child-rearing ideals are much different from Auntie Mame’s. Babcock is just one of the many struggles facing Mame during the 18-year span of the play. There also are The Great Depression, a gig as an actress, a gig as a manicurist, the gaining of a husband, the loss of a husband, and the difficulties of dealing with a newly priggish Patrick and his even more priggish intended. The magic of Mame is that, though seemingly ditzy, she is the salt of the earth and able to meet these problems with courage and humor.
There are so many standouts in this talented cast it’s hard to know where to begin. Agnes Gooch (Leslie Irene Gale), Mame’s best friend Vera Charles (Anne Du Fresne) and Beauregard J.P. Burnside (Ron Harmon) all are perfect foils for Mame and young Patrick, both of whom are excellent. Catherine Olson shines as Sally Cato and later Gloria Upson. I heard some stellar sopranos, too, but am not certain to whom those lovely voices belonged. Thanks to John Oules, director, Darcy White, musical director, and the entire cast and crew for a thoroughly enjoyable show.
Mame runs through June 14 at Lakewood Theatre. It is the final play in the 2014-2015 season. An all new season begins July 10 with Unnecessary Farce. Meanwhile, Lakewood offers several acting and visual arts classes throughout the summer for a variety of age categories.