Theatre of Dare brings back the Roaring Twenties with ‘Mame’

1920’s socialite Mame Dennis (Kelsey Thompson) has her Roaring Twenties lifestyle changed forever with the arrival of her orphaned nephew Patrick (Brogan Chimento). [photo courtesy Theatre of Dare]

For its first musical of the 2020s, Theatre of Dare is bringing back the 1920s with a Broadway classic.

The opening scene of Mame makes references to flappers, speakeasys and bathtub gin, as fun-loving socialite Mame Dennis (Kelsey Thompson) hosts one of her nightly soirees at her Manhattan mansion. But Mame’s life of leisure is upended by the arrival of her orphaned nephew Patrick (Brogan Chimento), whose cloistered upbringing and uptight guardian Dwight Babcock (Tyler Hudson) immediately clash with Mame’s free-spirited outlook. However, with the help of her best frenemy Vera (Toni Cole) and household help Ito and Agnes (Jonathan Hope, Ana Figiel), Mame sets out to help Patrick “open a new window” on life.

“If there’s a theme to this show, it’s about expanding horizons and living life to its fullest,” says Stuart Parks, II, a T.O.D. veteran who’s making his directorial debut. “Mame’s entire philosophy is that life is a banquet, and most people wind up starving themselves to death.”

The show has a long history on the stage, originating from the 1955 novel Auntie Mame to a 1956 stage play starring Rosalind Russell to a 1966 Tony-winning musical that bolstered the careers of Angela Lansbury and Bea Arthur. The Jerry Herman-penned score features such immediately-recognizable tunes such as ‘We Need a Little Christmas’, ‘If He Walked into My Life’, ‘Bosom Buddies’, ‘It’s Today’ and the title tune ‘Mame’.

“This show is full of great music, funny moments, and at least for me, costume changes,” joked Thompson. “It’s a wonderfully positive, life-affirming show that feels refreshing in today’s climate. I think the audience will be leaving the theater with a smile on their face and a song in their hearts.”

And, perhaps, a desire to take a few more bites out of life’s banquet.

“Mame” takes the stage February 21, 22, 28 and 29 at 7:30 p.m., with Sunday matinees February 23 and March 1 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students, and all performances will be inside the Indoor Theater at Roanoke Island Festival Park in Manteo.