Mame

Mame is a musical with the book by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee and music and lyrics by Jerry Herman. Originally titled My Best Girl, it is based on the 1955 novel Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis and a 1956 Broadway play, by Lawrence and Lee, that had starred Rosalind Russell.

The Broadway production opened on May 24, 1966 at the Winter Garden Theatre and starred Angela Lansbury and Bea Arthur. Three years later, it transferred to The Broadway Theatre, where it remained until closing. Between the two venues, it ran a total of 1,508 performances.

The madcap life of eccentric Mame Dennis is disrupted when her deceased brother’s 10-year-old son Patrick is entrusted to her care. Rather than bow to convention, Mame introduces the boy to her free-wheeling lifestyle. Also figuring in the story line are Mame’s personal secretary and nanny-in-law, Agnes Gooch; her “bosom buddy” Vera Charles, the baritone actress and world’s greatest lush; and Dwight Babcock, the stuffy and officious executor of Patrick’s father’s estate. Mame loses her fortune in the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and tries her hand at a number of jobs, with comically disastrous results, but perseveres with good humor and an irrepressible sense of style.

Mame eventually meets and marries a southern aristocrat Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside. The trustees of Mame’s late brother (Patrick’s father) force Mame to send Patrick off to boarding school, and Mame and Beau travel the world on an endless honeymoon that finally ends when Beau falls to his death while mountain climbing. Mame returns home a wealthy widow to discover that Patrick has become a priggish snob engaged to an equally priggish debutante. Mame brings Patrick to his senses just in time to introduce him to the woman who eventually will become his wife. As the story ends, Mame is preparing to take Patrick’s young son Peter to India with her usual flair.

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