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Theatre / Mame

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"You coax the blues right out of the horn, Mame
You charm the husk right off of the corn, Mame..."

A 1966 musical with book by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee and music by Jerry Herman, Mame debuted on Broadway with Angela Lansbury starring in the title role.

Based on the Auntie Mame novels, it tells of the adventures of a young boy, orphaned by the death of his father, being raised as the ward of his wealthy, eccentric, and impulsive aunt during The Great Depression.

It was made into a 1974 film starring Lucille Ball (in her final film performance), with Bea Arthur and Jane Connell reprising their stage roles as Vera Charles and Agnes Gooch respectively. Gene Saks, who'd directed the Broadway production, also helmed the film version.


The musical and film contain examples of:

  • Beautiful All Along: The 1974 film has Mame and Vera give Agnes a makeover.
  • Character Title
  • Christmas Creep: In the song "We Need a Little Christmas", Mame deliberately applies this, since she's at a low point in her life (having gotten wiped out in the 1929 stock market crash) and needs Christmas to cheer her up. Her nephew protests, "But, Auntie Mame, it's one week past Thanksgiving Day now!", implying that it's far too early to be starting the Christmas season. Since around the Turn of the Millennium that lyric is often changed to "one week from (or 'til) Thanksgiving Day", as even most critics of Christmas Creep would not consider any time post-Thanksgiving to be early by modern-day standards.
  • Christmas Songs: "We Need a Little Christmas", now a holiday standard, was introduced here.
  • Advertisement:
  • Cool Uncle: Auntie Mame is a female version.
  • Dreaming of a White Christmas: Immediately after the "We Need a Little Christmas" number in the 1974 film, it starts snowing. (Not entirely unheard-of for New York in November, but still...)
  • The Eleven O'Clock Number: "If He Walked into My Life"
  • Hippie Teacher: In the movie version of the song, "Open a New Window", we see Mame taking her nephew to many different schools with different educational philosophies, but she promptly pulls him out of an all-nude, all-boys' school headed by a nude headmaster.
  • Movie Bonus Song: "Loving You", added to give third-billed Robert Preston's Beauregarde a solo and a little more screen time.
  • One-Word Title
  • Shout-Out / Take That!: To Coco Chanel, Vera talks up her brilliance in fashion design but also did mutter "Would sell her own mother if she could."
  • The Show Must Go Wrong: Vera Charles invites Mame to be in her "terribly modern operetta" about a lady astronomer as the singing moon-lady. Unfortunately, Mame enters at the wrong time and then falls off the moon, ruining the whole show. The exact details vary between productions, but it's bad enough that Mame gets fired right after the curtain call.
  • Time-Shifted Actor: The musical follows Patrick Dennis, both as a 10 year-old and as a young adult. As such, there are two actors. And they sing a duet at the start of act 2.
  • Title Theme Tune: Sung to Mame after she (accidentally) wins the fox hunt toward the end of act 1.


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