Mame starring Angela Lansbury opened on Broadway 50th years ago. Thursday, May 26th members of that company gathered for a 50th Anniversary Celebration at Sardi’s. Producer John Bowab and dancer Diana Baffa Brill coordinated this special reunion. John and Diana have directed and choreographed numerous productions of Mame throughout the world.
25 company members plus their guests attended this special event. Leading the fun filled special evening was Angela Lansbury (Mame), who was joined by Jerry Lanning (Older Patrick), Sab Shimono (Ito), Susan Walther (Gloria Upson), Randy Kirby (original Jr Babcock), Don Pippen (musical director), Diane Blair (dancer), Eileen Casey (dancer), Diane Coupe (dancer, Pegeen),Bob Fitch (dancer), Hilda Harris (singer), Tom Karaty (dancer, Jr Babcock), Michele Karaty-
Bowen (dancer), Ross Miles (dancer), Carole Richards (singer Gloria Upson), Bella Shalom (dancer), Bill Stanton (dancer), Jo Tract (singer), Jodie Williams (singer), Kathy Wilson (dancer), Ron Young (dancer), Mary Zahn (dancer), and Rosh Lowe (1983 revival: Younger Patrick). There were rememberances, special songs, reading of notes and letters, and remember those company members who have passed away and of course dedications of the song “My Best Girl”
The hit musical Mame has a book by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee and music and lyrics by Jerry Herman. It is based on the 1955 novel “Auntie Mame” by Patrick Dennis and a 1956 Broadway play, by Lawrence and Lee, that starred Rosalind Russell. The classic musical starred Angela Lansbury as Mame, and the cast included Bea Arthur as Vera Charles, Frankie Michaels as young Patrick, Jane Connell as Agnes Gooch, Charles Braswell as Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside, Jerry Lanning as older Patrick, Sab Shimono as Ito, and Willard Waterman as Dwight Babcock. The musical opened on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre on May 24, 1966. Three years later, it transferred to the Broadway
Theatre, where it remained until closing on January 3, 1970. It ran a total of 1,508 performances and five previews.
The smash hit was Produced by Fryer, Carr & Harris Inc; Associate Producer: John Bowab and was Directed by Gene Saks, and Choreographed by Onna White. The Scenic Design was by William and Jean Eckart, Costume Design by Robert Mackintosh, Lighting Design by Tharon Musser. The Orchestrations were by Philip J. Lang and the Musical Director and Vocal Arrangements were by Donald Pippin, with Dance Arrangements by
Roger Adams. Hair Design was by Ronald De Mann and the Assistant choreographer was Tom Panko. The Production Stage Manager was Terence Little; Stage Manager: Ralph Linn and Delman Hendricks; and Assistant Stage Managers Stan Page and Nancy Lynch.
Tony Awards were won by Angela Lansbury, Beatrice Arthur, Frankie Michaels and the show received Tony nominations for Gene Saks, Onna White, Jerry Herman, Jerome Lawrence & Robert Lee and William & Jean Eckart. Outer Critic Circle Awards were won by Lansbury and Arthur. Theatre World Awards went to Jerry Lanning and Sheila Smith.
When Angela left the Broadway run to headline a special tour, she was followed by stage veteran Janis Paige, then Jane Morgan, and finally Ann Miller for the almost four year Broadway engagement. The West End production starred Ginger Rogers at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane with a special performance for Queen Elizabeth II. Celeste Holm led the 1st National Company. Susan Hayward appeared in the Las Vegas production, while such stars as Juliet Prowse, Janet Blair, Elaine Stritch, Edie Adams, Patrice Munsel, Carol Lawrence, Ann Sothern and Sheila Smith have appeared in stock, regional or touring productions.