Troupe ready as 'Mame' prepares to take the stage

By LaRita Jacobs, Times Staff Writer
Published February 27, 2008

Largo's Eight O'Clock Theatre is promising a musical of pure fun and joy with its production of Mame, which opens Friday. With a large cast and period sets that span the Great Depression and World War II, it's been a challenging effort for the ensemble.

"It is exciting," said theatre business manager and actor Betsy Byrd. "With 30 people on stage and large set pieces to move, the communication between cast and crew is vital."

The show features actors of all ages. The story is new to some and an old favorite for others.

"The unfamiliar music, choreography and time periods are a challenge for the younger performers," said director Ron Zietz. "We only have a seven-week rehearsal process, but the young people in the show are eager to learn."

Zietz said he is proud of everyone in the show.

"We have to become a family really fast," he said. "There are a lot of talented leads in the show. Melody (Craven) is a fantastic Mame."

Told through dialogue, music and dance, Mame is the story of Mame Dennis, the eccentric, free-spirited woman who finds herself unexpectedly raising her 10-year-old nephew, Patrick. Rather than stifling her lifestyle, Mame sets out to open Patrick's mind and the adventures begin.

Zietz cautioned his ensemble against mimicking the movie version of the show.

"We should expect the same show with a different look," he said. "There should be energy and spontaneity."

Zietz also believes the audience can learn and grow from the show while having fun.

"Mame has always been one of my favorites," he said. "I like the character and her perspective on life. We can all learn something from Mame."

If you go


Shows begin Friday and are Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m., through March 16

How much: $26 adult, $16 student (19 and younger), $23.50 group

Where: Largo Cultural Center, 105 Central Park Drive

Call: (727)587-6751