re: MAME in Regional Theaters
Posted by: BroadwayTonyJ 03:29 pm EDT 05/04/21
In reply to: re: MAME in Regional Theaters - Michael_Portantiere 10:23 am EDT 05/04/21

Norah Muldoon (in the '58 film although not necessarily in the '56 play which I've never seen) is a matronly, no nonsense domestic/nanny in her 60's, who is a caring, loyal, and witty member of Mame's household who gives advice and monetary assistance to her on occasion. Agnes Gooch (in both the play and film) is a 20-something young woman, sexually repressed with low self-esteem, who presents herself to the world as a spinster but is actually quite attractive (even voluptuous) and has an obvious sexual yearning for Brian O'Bannion. They are two distinctly different individuals who are important figures in Mame's life and who add a lot of richness, color, and humor to Auntie Mame.

By combining Norah and a young Gooch into an older Gooch (played originally by 40-year old Jane Connell and even older actresses in the productions I've seen) and further by eliminating O'Bannion, the eventually pregnant Gooch becomes a pathetic, unfunny figure in the musical. It's almost offensive that we are supposed to regard her situation as humorous. In the film, of course, Agnes has actually been wedded, bedded, and made pregnant by O'Bannion, the revelation of which always makes me laugh and feel good (sort of) for Agnes at the end. I haven't seen a production of Mame in almost 20 years. Does Agnes end up being a bride in the musical?

I understand that Lawrence and Lee saved the cost of two paychecks by their decision, but I think it's one of the reasons that the book of Mame is so inferior to the screenplay of Auntie Mame. Related to this decision, in the film Mame uses the land near the Upson's as a home for Jewish refugees (which is hilarious and a fitting rebuke to her bigoted almost in-laws), while in the musical it becomes a refuge for unwed mothers, which again is not something we should be laughing at. Just IMO.

I know you agree with their decision. It's just something that always bothered me about the musical, and I have to respectfully disagree with you on this one, but I did like most of your criticisms of the My Fair Lady film.

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