Monday, December 11, 2017
Features and More

Richey Suncoast Theatre treats 'Mame' just right

Theater-goers in the mood for a sweet story and hummable tunes done quite nicely by a talented cast could do no better than Jerry Herman's musical Mame, a paean to free spirits and adventuresome women, playing weekends through May 27 at Richey Suncoast Theatre.

Kathryn Tilley puts a new spin on Mame Dennis, the resolute single woman who maintains an ongoing party with an eccentric and esoteric crowd — until the arrival of her recently orphaned nephew Patrick (Tad Andris), which puts her in the unfamiliar role of mommy surrogate.

Ms. Tilley plays the traditionally warm-hearted Mame as broad and brassy, but even so, young Andris' Patrick warms up to her and relishes the carefree life she leads and urges him to lead to the recurring refrains of Open a New Window and It's Today.

Although Andris has been in holiday shows at Richey Suncoast, this is his first major part, and his near-perfect pitch and winning manner charm the audience as much as they do Mame and her cohorts.

Indeed, director Marie Skelton and musical director Jacki Doxie Scott's show is blessed with many fine voices and actors, including Tracie Callahan as the hilarious nanny/secretary Agens Gooch; Lynn Yarbrough as Mame's best friend, the thoroughly, but acidly, delightful stage star, Vera Charles; Chris Cavalier as a likable grown-up Patrick; and a strong, sizable chorus.

Richey Suncoast veteran Rich Aront is perfectly cast as Patrick's uptight financial guardian Dwight Babcock, all full of pompous self-righteousness and the direct opposite of the free-wheeling Mame. Award-winning actor Bob Marcela makes a beguiling Southern gentleman as Mame's rescuer/husband, Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside; and JoAnn Larson is simply fetching as the simpering Southern belle Sally Cato.

Heather Clark is just right as the imperious Mother Burnside, who is determined to dislike Mame but eventually succumbs to her spunk. Kelly Hanley and Jim Laird are winningly courageous as the snobby Mr. and Mrs. Upson, forgoing their own dignity to give their characters gleeful physical humor.

Several minor roles are made memorable by actors Ingrid Steele as the beauty spa manager Madame Branislowski; the always delightful CJ Fowler as Mame's eager houseboy Ito; a lowkey, sophisticated Norman Chester as Mame's faithful suitor Lindsey Woolsey; a suitably pretentious Tommy Henthorne as Babcock's son, Junior; a lovely-to-look-at Allison Iskowitz as the not surprisingly snobby Gloria Upson; a winsome Alyson Larkin as Mame's choice for Patrick, Pegeen Ryan; and an adorable Tiffani Cruz as Mame's grand-nephew, Peter Dennis.

The musical moves along quickly, with no long blackouts, thanks to clever set and light design by director Skelton. It's visually pleasing, thanks to scenic artists Bill Lewis and Phil Hombledal. And costume-makers Mary Bramham, Ms. Skelton and the cast outdid themselves, especially for the three leading ladies.

Those seeing the show for the first time will be entertained at every turn, and those seeing it again will be pleased that this theater favorite gets good treatment at Richey Suncoast.

Comments
Golden Globe-nominated movies and when to see them in Tampa Bay

Golden Globe-nominated movies and when to see them in Tampa Bay

Guillermo Del Toro’s romantic creature feature The Shape of Water soaked up seven Golden Globes nominations Monday, kicking off another marathon awards season. The Shape of Water is nominated for best dramatic motion picture alongside Christop...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Dec. 12

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Dec. 12

Petula Clark: The two-time Grammy Award-winning artist is known for hits like Downtown, I Know a Place, My Love and I Couldn’t Live Without Your Love. 2 and 7:30 p.m., Central Park Performing Arts Center, 105 Central Park Drive, Largo. $34.50-$49.50....
Updated: 4 hours ago
Is Gilbert Gottfried really that annoying in real life?

Is Gilbert Gottfried really that annoying in real life?

A new documentary about comedian Gilbert Gottfried reveals someone more mild-mannered than his stage persona, married with children, verging on dull. His voice doesn’t grate, dropping half its nasal quality and all of its foul-mouthed bluster....
Updated: 4 hours ago
Mario Batali on leave from ‘The Chew’ and restaurant empire after sexual harassment allegations

Mario Batali on leave from ‘The Chew’ and restaurant empire after sexual harassment allegations

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein story, chef and television personality Mario Batali offered up his views on how to combat sexual harassment in the workplace for an Oct. 30 video for Fast Company."You need a workplace free of fear, that harbors an...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Restaurant review: Let the food and outstanding cocktails at CW’s Gin Joint transport you back to the 1920s

Restaurant review: Let the food and outstanding cocktails at CW’s Gin Joint transport you back to the 1920s

TAMPAMaybe it’s the twinkling chandeliers. All skajillion of them. Or maybe it is the rhythmic syncopation of ice cubes in shiny shakers. It could be the old-timey metal dessert cart with its silver cloches and chafing dishes, or else the chummy-but-...
Published: 12/11/17
Restaurant review: 1895 Kitchen Bar Market needs to do a lot more to stand out in downtown Tampa

Restaurant review: 1895 Kitchen Bar Market needs to do a lot more to stand out in downtown Tampa

TAMPA Just a block away from CW’s Gin Joint, the folks at Urban Juice Co. have retooled, taking the historic Franklin building, one of the city’s oldest, erected in 1895, and re-envisioning it in September as 1895 Kitchen-Bar-Market, a "...
Published: 12/11/17
Sting rocks the house with old and new hits in Florida Orchestra gala

Sting rocks the house with old and new hits in Florida Orchestra gala

ST. PETERSBURG — In some ways, the Florida Orchestra’s gala with Sting looked like other concerts of a mega-star. Most of the fans who packed the Mahaffey Theater bought their tickets the day they went on sale. They cheered and sang along at the open...
Published: 12/10/17
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of Dec. 11-17

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of Dec. 11-17

Katy Perry: The Teenage Dream songstress roars into Tampa’s Amalie Arena on Friday ($45.75-$195.75). amaliearena.com. Hanukkah: The Festival of Lights begins Tuesday, bringing fun celebrations including Hanukkah in the City at the Sundial St. Petersb...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/10/17
Top holiday events, parades, parties this weekend

Top holiday events, parades, parties this weekend

ParadesApollo Beach Lighted Boat ParadeThe Tampa Sailing Squadron hosts this event and the party afterward with a chili cook off. Good viewing available from the clubhouse and docks. Free. Tampa Sailing Squadron, 1250 Apollo Beach Blvd., Ruskin. (813...
Published: 12/08/17
Fun and profound Hanukkah celebrations around the Tampa Bay area

Fun and profound Hanukkah celebrations around the Tampa Bay area

It’s time to observe the Festival of Lights, starting at sunset Tuesday and ending Dec. 20. Many congregations seem to be having a great time, because Hanukkah celebrations this year are hilarious. There’s a menorah made of fidget spinne...
Published: 12/08/17