July 9, 2014 —
It’s a noun, and has but one meaning: “a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period, place or thing with happy personal associations” (www.merriamwebster.com). I often wax nostalgic; perhaps it comes with being of a certain age, but I think my day-to-day encourages it on occasion. Last week brought torrential rains, felled trees, power outages and cancellations cascading across my calendar, but the sun came out for Crosby Stills and Nash, and they drew an enormous crowd of nostalgic music lovers to Sullivan County (www.bethelwoodscenter.org). I enjoyed the show but felt a bit creaky at the same time, since their first appearance in Bethel was in 1969. However, the weather was less forgiving the night before. In the theatre there’s a saying, “the show must go on,” and it did, at the Forestburgh Playhouse (www.FBPlayhouse.org) in the form of the classic Jerry Herman musical “Mame,” which continues its run through this weekend, with star Loretta Swit in the title role. Based on the 1955 novel by Patrick Dennis, the story chronicles the madcap adventures of a boy (Dennis) growing up as the ward of his deceased father’s sister, Marion Tanner, whose real life (according to Wikipedia) perfectly reflected that of the semi-fictionalized Mame.
The book was a runaway bestseller and went on to spawn a stage play, a film and a musical, which itself was made into a film. Of all its incarnations, my vote stays with the 1958 Rosalind Russell film version, for which both the incomparable Russell and Peggy Cass reprised their stage roles, earning Tony and Academy awards along the way. I adore this film and watch it every year during the Christmas season, which plays an important part in the plot of the musical version as well, giving birth to the seasonal standby “We need a little Christmas.” In point of fact, the show is chock-a-block with memorable tunes like “Bosom Buddies,” “Open a New Window,” “If He Walked into My Life,” and of course, the title song “Mame.”