Berray Billington, who will be directing the Waupaca Community Theatre’s production of the Broadway musical “Mame,” said he has loved the show since he was in college.
“It’s a great story with great music and a message that’s just as relevant today,” Billington said.
He especially likes the title character, Mame Dennis, a madcap, Bohemian woman who suddenly discovers she has become the guardian of an orphaned nephew.
“Mame accepts everyone for who they are,” Billington said. “Her mantra is ‘Live, live, live, life is a banquet.’ One of her songs is ‘Open a New Window’ and that’s her message – to live outside the box.”
Mame will be portrayed by Annie Hughes, who brings her own vivacious personality to the character. Hughes has an extensive career as a singer and actor. She has performed in concerts and musicals in New York City, as well as in professional regional theaters in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and New Hampshire.
Mame’s nephew, Patrick Dennis, is played at age 10 by Nathan Wachsmuth and as a young adult by Preston Waala.
Other cast members include Lynn Luce as Vera Charles, Brayden Kendziora as Agnes Gooch, Justin Spenner as Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside, Matthew Bonikowske as M. Lindsay Woolsey, Jerry Hurst as Dwight Babcock, Sandy Renner as Madame Branislowski, Adam Quatishat as Ito, Pat Young as Mother Burnside, Emily Billington as Sally Cato, Marcel van Camp as Ralph Devine, Sawyer Olson as Junior Babcock, Carmen Riebel as Mrs. Upson, Dru Brown as Mr. Upson, Jenni Hamelink as Gloria Upson, Aurora May as Pegeen Ryan and Katie Anderson, Jessica Fletcher, Emma Kelley, Liz Kelley and Stanford Mitchell as Mame’s friends.
The script is written by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, based on the novel by Patrick Dennis. Music and lyrics are by Jerry Herman, the composer of “Hello, Dolly!”
“Mame” was first performed on Broadway in the 1960s and starred Angela Lansbury in the title role.
Billington noted some of the challenges “Mame” presents to a community theater.
“It spans three decades and requires three different sets of costumes,” Billington said, noting that the story begins in the late 1920s and ends in the late 1940s.
“At the opening of the play, Mame is rich, so her apartment has to look lush. Then she loses all her wealth in the Wall Street crash of 1929,” he said.
Billington brings a wealth of experience to directing this production. He studied theater at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, spent two summers working at a professional regional theater in Iowa and worked with Dan Wolfgram from 1991 to 2002 as an assistant director for the Waupaca High School musicals.
In 1998, Billington directed “Cabaret,” the first musical that the Waupaca Community Theatre produced. Most recently, he directed the local production of “Oliver!” in 2004.
The Waupaca Community Theatre will present the Broadway musical “Mame” at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, July 23-24, and at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, July 29-31, at Waupaca High School. A matinee performance is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday, July 25.
Ticket prices are $12 and can be purchased in advance at the Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce or at the door prior to each show.