34 of 39 people found the following review helpful
The fictional character of Mame Dennis has been one of the most beloved figures in American entertainment. The Patrick Dennis novel AUNTIE MAME was a runaway bestseller of the 1950s. Playwrights Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee quickly adapted the novel to the stage, where it became a smash with Rosalind Russell in the leading role. In 1958 Russell recreated her acclaimed performance for the screen, and the result was yet another smash.
In 1966 Jerry Herman, creator of such Broadway hits as the earlier HELLO DOLLY and the later LA CAGE AUX FOLLES, turned his attention to the Lawrence and Lee script. The result was MAME, and every musical actress jumped at the thought of playing the title role--including the legendary Judy Garland. In the end, however, it was Angela Lansbury who walked off with the role.
Lansbury was not an actress associated with musicals in the public mind, but the choice was not actually as radical as it may have seemed. Lansbury had a fair amount of dance and vocal training, and she had indeed made use of them on the screen. One of her earliest Hollywood films, TIL THE CLOUDS ROLL BY, featured her as star singer in an elaborate MGM musical number, and she had danced in such films as THE HARVEY GIRLS. In addition to all this, she also had considerable stage experience.
Needless to say, MAME opened to extremely positive reviews and ran close to five years on the New York stage--and to this day it remains an extremely popular choice for both professional and amateur theatres around the world. In addition to its memorable tale of an eccentric aunt unexpected saddled with her orphaned nephew, it has a remarkably memorable score, the sort that is easy to humm as you leave the theatre, plus some of the witty lyrics going. Just like the character of Mame Dennis, it is a charmer all the way.
The spotlight, of course, is on the character of Mame, who participates in no fewer than eight of fifteen songs. And whether it's the jazz-age "It's Today," the comic duet "Bosom Buddies," or the emotionally charged "If He Walked Into My Life Today," Lansbury's slightly brittle but powerful tones seem to capture something essential about the character that generations had come to know and love from previous incarnations.
The supporting cast is particularly fine, most notably Bea Arthur as the hard-drinking and adder-tongued Vera Charles; "The Man In The Moon" is a masterpiece of theatrical satire, and when Arthur and Landsbury team up for "Bosom Buddies" the result is one of the most screamingly funny things you'll ever hear. But whether it is "St. Bridget," "We Need A Little Christmas," "Gooch's Song," or "That's How Young I Feel," the whole thing is a delight from start to finish. And the remastering here is very, very good and the selections include several demos performed by Jerry Herman and Alice Borden for good measure.
Rosalind Russell was lucky: not only did she originate the role of Mame on Broadway in AUNTIE MAME, she repeated the role for film, and the result was a classic. Angela Lansbury was not; although Lansbury was eager to make the film, the role went to Lucille Ball instead. And controversy has raged ever since, for--for all her great talent--Ball was not and never had been a singer in any way, shape, or form, and the film failed largely due to her inability to carry the vocal demands of the score. Whatever your sentiments about Ball as Mame, it is a great loss that Angela Lansbury's performance was not preserved on film. This is as close as you can get, and it's a class act all the way. Recommended.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2001
"Tune the grand up, dance your shoes off, strike the band up, it's today!"
So begins Mame Dennis' (Angela Lansbury) joyous celebration of life, and one of Broadway's greatest musical masterpieces of all time. "Mame", the story of Mame Dennis and her orphaned nephew Patrick building a colorful life together, sparked one of the most enjoyable musicals of all time with a perfect cast, dynamite songs, and the joy and pratfalls of life to add glitter to the beloved story.
Starring as Mame, four-time Tony-winner Angela Lansbury gives a sensational, brilliant performance as the golden embodiment of life lived to the fullest. Lansbury sings with great strength, full-throated joy, and genuine warmth and tenderness, instilling the character of Mame with an endearing humanity and joy of being alive: "I have the feeling that time has halted; I'd like two straws and a chocolate malted..." Co-starring Beatrice Arthur in her greatest theatrical role as Mame's "cobra-tongued" best friend, Vera Charles, Arthur is absolutely delicious in her Tony-winning performance of Vera, the uppity gin-soaked prima donna. Arthur gets to toss off great acerbic, witty phrases with Lansbury in a duet, "Bosom Buddies": "And if I say your sense of style's as far off as your youth, it's simply that who else but a bosom buddy will tell you the whole stinkin' truth!" The stellar supporting cast includes Frankie Michaels (Tony winner) as Patrick, Charles Braswell as Mame's Southern husband Beauregard Burnside, and a perfectly cast Jane Connell as the dazed and befuddled nanny Agnes Gooch.
And the great power behind these magnificent performances is the music and lyrics of the incredible Jerry Herman. His wonderful musical numbers are the emotional backbone of the show with the revelry of "It's Today", Mame's joyous message to "Open A New Window!", Arthur's big theatrical number, "The Man In The Moon", Lansbury and Michaels' charming duet with "My Best Girl", Lansbury's up and happy "We Need A Little Christmas", and of course, the real gem of the show, Jerry Herman's greatest triumph: the ode of the people of Georgia to "Mame": "Your special fascination'll/ Prove to be inspirational/ We think you're just sensational/ MAME!" and much more!
The quality of the sound and musical numbers is clear as crystal and even fun to sing along with (you can't help it!). And as a bonus to this, five never-released tracks include Jerry Herman's original singing of five of the show's songs with soprano Alice Borden: "St. Bridget", "It's Today!", "Camouflage" (this number was not used in the final show and revolved around Mame preparing to meet Patrick's trustee with the aid of Vera), "Open A New Window!", and "Mame".
"Mame" is truly a joy, with its timeless tunes, wonderful heart, and stellar performances all captured forever on this CD. If you're a fan of Broadway or just love outstanding musicals, you will love this show and treasure this CD always.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 22, 2005
I agree with another reviewer who states that this is Jerry Herman's best score, but am inclined to go further with my praise and lable it one of the greatest musicals not only of the 60's (a period of hefty competition; consider Camelot, Hello Dolly, Fiddler on the Roof) but of the entire 20th century. (And the 21st for that matter, i have heard no post 2000 scores that I feel are comparable to the greats of the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s) Like Herman's most famous work, Hello Dolly, Mame is an entirely uplifting and energy-driven piece. There are very few gentle, quiet moments in this brashy, overwhelming score. Those that do exist, serve to strengthen the appeal and the magnitude of the characters, and in so doing add a touching, sentimental elemant to this enchanting score. The music is uplifting from start to finish and the sparkling lyrics only serve to enhance the already dazzling experience. Very few Broadway CDs captivate me from the very beginning. This is one noteworthy exception. Herman is in his element here, he is truly the master of Grande Dame musicals, and this is irrevocably his masterpiece! What is lacking in Hello Dolly,(which is, without doubt another truly great musical) that indescribable something which stops it from being an entirely wondeful experience, has been palpably attained in Mame; Herman's awareness that he is working magic here can be felt in his own enthusiastic renditions of several of the songs. Naturally, he is not the only star in this recording. Angela Lansbury's performance as Mame is quite simply out of this world. From her first appearance in the decadent, charming extravaganza It's Today to her final heartbreaking rendition of If He Walked Into My Life, she shines, glows, sparkles and radiates energy and warmth to such an extent that she would utterly outshine and eclipse any but the best supporting cast. Fortunately, she has the best. The Ensemble is perhaps not extraordinary but the central figures around Mame are all excellent. Jane Connell is delightful as Gooch; she offers up a sweetly pathetic St. Bridget and an entirely captivating rendition of Gooch's Song, with an unnashamed earnesty which is terribly endearing. Frankie Michaels is excellent as Patrick; he is right up there with Andrea McArdle(Annie) and Micheal Goodman(Oliver) as one of the greatest child performers Broadway has ever seen. Even on the recording, his amazing amount of stage presence for one so young is palpable. Bea Arthur is of course a star in her own right. Her version of the utterly ridiculous Man In The Moon drips with sardonic pathos; it is almost as if she is a coinesseur who delights in her own power to entertain. The biting, sarcastic duo between her and Mame, Bosom Buddies, is one of the greatest moments on the CD. Naturally the title song,(which is not only riveting and incredably catchy but also intensely amusing at times) cannot be overlooked. The same can be said of the rolliking We Need A Little Christmas and the intensely satisfying Open A New Window. (With a philosophy like that, is it at all surprising that Mame was a runnaway success?) An absolutely essential addition to any Broadway Collection.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 23, 2000
Wow...where to begin. I've been thinking about writing this review since I auditioned. I stumbled across MAME in a small CD store. I knew I was going to audition for it, and I spontaniously bought it. I began to doubt my purchase, but as soon as I played the overture, I knew my money waswell spent.
MAME is gorgeous. Although I doubted it, Angela Landsbury plays the role FLAWLESSLY on this CD. If you don't believe me, listen to her version of "If he Walked Into My Life" it'll bring you close to tears...especially the line(s) "Though I'll ask myself my whole life long what went wrong along the way, would I make the same mistakes"
It's great hearing Bea Arthur sing...she and Angie make Bosom Buddies truly memorable.
Jane Connell gives a wonderful performance as Gooch. Listen to "We Need a Little Christmas" for harmony of the whole cast.
The others are wonderful too.
And then of course, there's the title song "MAME" I'm speachless. It's so (at a loss for words)...It's refreshing...the cast starts out soft, but they grow louder...there's a man and a woman who harmonize quite well *and loudly* in the last chorus.
The curtain call music wraps everything up, I almost cry when I hear it...it's so beautiful. Jerry Herman really outdid himself with this one.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Jerry Herman remains one of the greatest composers and lyricists of the entire twentieth century. One of his biggest hits was the score for the Broadway musical entitled Mame. Angela Lansbury and the rest of the cast could inject so much extra electricity into Herman's already rousing score that people were crowding the theater for years and wearing the grooves off the record albums as they enjoyed these words and music.
The CD has all of the songs from Mame performed by the original Broadway cast; and these songs were recorded just a few days after the show opened in 1966 for record album release. Angela Lansbury's voice is rich, warm and full of feminine energy; and Bea Arthur fits in perfectly as Mame's friend Vera Charles; Bea's performance on this CD glistens like gold.
The CD track set opens with a rousing overture that gives you a musical collage of the show's major tunes; and the flawless arrangement stuns you with its beauty. Mame quickly establishes herself as THE expert in how to enjoy life as Angela Lansbury sings "It's Today" with a great male chorus in the background. Angela delivers "It's Today" with panache and her excellent diction helps to make this number a memorable one. Mame's fresh, exciting and positive outlook on life is reinforced by the next song entitled "Open A New Window." Mame sings this song to her young nephew Patrick to teach him the importance of always trying new things to keep yourself young while enjoying your life at the same time.
Other great songs from this score include the enchanting ballad Mame's nephew Patrick sings to her to cheer her up after a play Mame is in doesn't work out well; Frankie Michaels and Angela Lansbury sing "My Best Girl" to perfection! The musical arrangement makes good use of the strings and the chimes add a nice touch. "We Need A Little Christmas" is another rousing number performed by Angela Lansbury as they decorate the house to distract themselves from the pain of the stock market crash of 1929; and "Bosom Buddies" gets the royal treatment from Angela Lansbury and Bea Arthur. "Bosom Buddies" plays with the tempo and makes a few key changes to produce a snappy number that still sounds fresh today, even if a line or two is dated.
"If He Walked Into My Life" is a more pensive, introspective ballad sung by Mame as she wonders if she raised her nephew well; Angela Lansbury sings this without a superfluous note and all the sensitivity this great ballad demands.
In addition to the electrifying finale, we also get five bonus tracks that were never released before this CD was produced. The five tracks feature Jerry Herman at the piano. (Warning: Jerry Herman can't sing.) Jerry sings "St. Bridget" with some alternate lyrics, a song cut from the production entitled "Camouflage" with Alice Borden; a somewhat more stately interpretation of "Open A New Window" and "Mame."
Which brings me to the song entitled "Mame." The arrangement shows forethought and the lyrics work well enough. However, some of the lyrics are rather embarrassingly outdated, for example: "The South Will Rise Again???" I don't think that line and quite a few others from this number would work in our times. And they shouldn't, either.
Another disappointment is that Jerry Herman songs tend to have endless choruses which simply repeat the lyrics to the main verse. This shortcoming remained an obstacle for Jerry Herman; even in his much later shows like La Cage Aux Folles this pattern remains quite evident.
Overall, however, the score to Mame works very well and when you listen to this CD there is no mystery as to how the musical lasted over five years on Broadway. Angela Lansbury couldn't have been more perfect for the role of Mame as she can belt out her songs with panache, sensitivity and warmth all at once. The other cast members perform flawlessly as well.
I recommend this CD for fans of Broadway show tunes. People who enjoyed seeing the musical on Broadway will also enjoy this digitally remastered CD with its five bonus tracks of Jerry Herman at the piano.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2004
Angela Lansbury is perfectly cast as Auntie Mame. She sings beautifully and her character shines through every song. She received tremendous critical praise and won a Tony for this role. A previous reviewer said that people were "unfairly bashing" Lucille Ball's version. I am going to be fair about this issue. I love Lucy, but her version of MAME is the absolute worst on cd. Lucy simply could not sing. In addition, by the time she made the movie she was quite old, and her voice croaked dreadfully through every song. I will not let my admiration of Lucy's great comedic talents overrule my judgement. For the best MAME on cd, get the original Broadway cast album starring the legendary Angela Lansbury.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 26, 2002
MAME is the musical version of AUNTIE MAME, the delightful play and movie based on a novel by someone writing under the pseudonym of Patrick Dennis. Ostensibly, the story is about Dennis' growing up, but the story is really about Patrick's aunt. This is the role that made Angela Lansbury a star (after years as an under-appreciated Hollywood actress) and forged her close friendship with the great comedienne Bea Arthur.
Mame Dennis, New York's 9th-wealthiest woman, is the world's most lovable eccentric. One of her nightly Prohibition-Era parties is crashed by dowdy Agnes Gooch, the nanny bringing Patrick to live with his aunt upon the death of his father. Taking him in and declaring that "Life is a banquet, and most poor [suckers] are starving to death," Mame goes on to give Patrick an unusually well-rounded education - including enrollment in a nudist school - before losing everything in the stock market crash. The lovable Mame recovers by falling head-over-heels with a visiting Southern plantation owner and by winning over his Yankee-hating relatives by becoming the first person ever to capture the fox ALIVE in a hunt. In the second act, Mame introduces Agnes to the real world and rescues Patrick from becoming an aristocratic snob by hosting a most unusual dinner party.
This musical showcases Jerry Herman at his finest. The brassy overture and the boisterous party number "It's Today" set the mood for an energetic evening of living life to the hilt. Despite their gravelly singing, Lansbury and Arthur shine in their duets, "The Man In the Moon," Mame's foray into the dramatic arts, and "Bosom Buddies," a lovable-yet-venemous celebration of what best friendships are all about. The highlight of the show is Lansbury's eleven o'clock number to end all eleven o'clock numbers, "If He Walked Into My Life." Every song (with the possible exception of "St. Bridget") is delightful.
Every fan of Broadway musicals should know MAME forwards and backwards, and you can't go wrong with Angela Lansbury's Tony award-winning rendition. Buy it today!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 2003
A very good musical cd, songs performed by the thrilling lady called Angela Lansbury! She simply does a fabolous job potraying the sassy women known as Mame.
Angela's vocal is strong and clear, very mature singing voice, she cuts through with the peak of emotions.
Vera Charles, Mame's best freind is being portrayed by the wonderful golden girl Bea Arthur! You haven't lived until you've heard Bea belting out "Bosom Buddies" with Angela Lansbury, and her big theatrical number "The Man In The Moon.
Her vocal is deeep and throaty, but can reach to an surprising high key, matched perfectly with Angela's chipper vocal.
As the title implies, two of my favourite women ever!
I simply adore them.
Angela Lansbury I've been kind "reserved" about, her long career in both stage and movie performences are all to be remembered, and Angela has even starred opposite Judy Garland once in the movie "The Harvey Girls". And of course her legendary performence in A Murder, She Wrote.
Bea Arthur has also done quite a bit of theater work, she started her career in the Off-Broadway show called The Shoestring Revue, and has since then participated in such legendary shows as The Threepenny Opera and Fiddler On The Roof.
She's also starred opposite a legend, Lotta Lenya, the legendary german cabaret singer in The Threepenny Opera.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 1999
Though it was just re-released as a CD with restored material, essentially this recording was made in 1966 and is therefore the oldest one I've ever heard. It doesn't show its age one bit; not only is the sound clear, but the musical numbers are just as fun today as they seem to have been in '66. The tunes and lyrics are very catchy and memorable. The vocals are performed very well. And then there's Angela Lansbury, who's more than enough reason for listening to this. Her energetic belting out of the songs is amazing, considering she'd only been in one other musical before this, Anyone Can Whistle. It's no wonder that, as her biography Balancing Act makes clear, this musical alone turned her from being a supporting player into a genuine, bona fide STAR. I do wish I could have seen her in the role, (Unfortunatly, she was not cast in the film, and was replaced by Lucille Ball, who not only doesn't belong in the role, but whose clunky singing really bogs it down.) but this recording more than compensates. If you haven't gotten the message yet, GET THIS CD! You'll be singing the songs happily for days, I guarantee you. One small quibble: In several of the songs, such as the delightful It's Today and Opon a New Window, the chorus keeps getting repeated, over and over again. But, oh, well. It's worth it.
Rosalind Russell went down in history as the definitive screwball comedy Mame, and for good reason. Also for good reason, Anglea Lansbury has gone down in history as the definitive musical Mame. Listen to this and you'll see why.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Mame started out as a novel by Patrick Dennis in 1955, was made into a straight play by Lawrence and Lee that was turned into a non-musical movie with Rosalind Russell. Then this musical by Jerry Herman with Angela Lansbury as the Beekman Place guru was created, and it ended up a movie musical, a bomb with a miscast Lucille Ball. Talk about recycling good material!
Herman writes tuneful, catchy numbers that become the anthems of his shows. Mame and Dolly are bigger than life eccentric characters that caught the imaginations of theatergoers. The songs in this show "Open a New Window", "We Need a Little Christmas", the signature song "Mame", "Bosom Buddies" with Bea Arthur, and the show's eleven o'clock number "If He Walked into My Life" live on. It's full of memorable, singable, lovable songs and great melodies. Always worth another listen.