A View from the Cliff: Heights Players’ “Mame” rocks the house

The floorboards shook as the Heights Players’ “Mame” electrified the packed house on Saturday night at the John Bourne Theatre. The small stage and intimate seating were no match for the incredible energy that dazzled the audience. Clearly this performance is among the troupe’s finest.

James Martinelli is the director, costume designer and co-choreographer. By combining beloved musical showstoppers (Terry Hanson) with dazzling costumes, breathtaking choreography (Miriam Bird, Jennifer Sewall) and talented actors, he delivers a must-see production that runs for just one final weekend. Many unforgettable songs including “My Best Girl,” “We Need a Little Christmas,” “If He Walked into My Life” and the title song are moving and entertaining. Bravo to the entire cast and crew.

As Mame, Elizabeth Gurland keeps the glamour and her great smile but wisely shuns a flighty demeanor. In her courtroom of free self-expression, Mame pleads her musical case with affection for society’s eccentrics. While Gurland can be occasionally subdued, Michelle Maccarone as best friend Vera is played with a bold, brassy attitude that is a perfect counterpoint to just about everyone else onstage!

Poor, poor Agnes Gooch (Dana DiAngelo) often steals the show with her charming lack of guile and wonderful loyalty. Young Patrick (Iravan Bhattacharyya) and grown-up Patrick (Juan Luis Sanchez) are both disarming and delightful as they benefit from Mame’s unabashed but sincere lessons in life.

Michael Blake completely owns the role of upper-class snob and stuffed shirt, Mr. Babcock. Mykel Frank as Beau Burnside brings a perfect tongue-in-cheek attitude to his son-of-the-south responsibilities. But my personal favorite is Mother Burnside (B.D. Bass), who is laughingly terrifying as the wealthy widow. She pounds her cane and encircles Mame, whom she sees as a usurping Northern Belle.

Supporting players — to name just a few, Ed Healy, Zacarias Salveron, David Mackler, German Bosquez, Sean Dearing, Sylvie Hartley, Dorea Slagle, Emily Mathis and Anne Marie Sherlock — are excellent complements to the storyline. This still omits talented cast members — many of the wonderful dancers, ensemble players, and behind the scenes leadership. My apologies.

The troupe is housed at 26 Willow Place (the Unitarian Church) in Brooklyn Heights. For reservations call 718-237-2752, surf to www.heightsplayers.org or like them on Facebook. Their next production, “Hot L Baltimore,” begins in November. As always, save me a seat on the aisle.

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