Mame | Cahn Auditorium, Northwestern University | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader
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click to enlarge Zachary Scott Fewkes

Zachary Scott Fewkes

Mona Luan

When: Wednesdays-Sundays. Continues through Aug. 28 2016
Price: $34-$98
Songwriter Jerry Herman and playwrights Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee's 1966 musical—based on Lawrence and Lee's 1956 stage adaptation of Evanston-bred novelist Patrick Dennis's 1955 best seller—is an old-fashioned Broadway star vehicle. The actor playing the title character—a madcap Jazz Age socialite who finds new meaning in life when she becomes guardian of her orphaned nephew Patrick—must be a glamorous clotheshorse who can sing and dance up a storm. She must also be able to make lightning-fast emotional shifts, from screwball giddiness to pathos to crackling anger, as Auntie Mame fights to raise Patrick as a freethinker rather than a prep-school conformist. The leading lady of Light Opera Works's 50th-anniversary revival of the show, belter Nancy Hays, looks good and sounds great, but under Rudy Hogenmiller's by-the-numbers direction she's dramatically bland; her battle for Patrick's soul lacks any urgency. The result is a disappointingly conventional take on a wonderfully unconventional character. Kudos, however, to choreographer Clayton Cross and his high-stepping kicklines and cakewalks. —Albert Williams

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