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Averitt STARS present Mame the Broadway musical at the Emma Kelly Theater
Erin Wilson as Mame. - photo by Photo provided

STATESBORO — Since its opening in September 2004, the Emma Kelly Theater has staged countless musicals, plays, concerts, comedy acts, and many more magical performances.  

This month, Averitt STARS will perform “Mame,” the Broadway musical.

Mame Dennis has it all.  The ultra-rich, ultra-outrageous socialite is always the center of attention. New York waits breathlessly for her next party — just to look at her next outfit. Mame has life by the tail and enjoys every minute.   

However, Mame’s life takes a shocking turn when her brother is killed in a car accident. She becomes the sole guardian of her independently wealthy 10-year-old nephew, Patrick, although she is clueless about raising children.

Rather than bow to conventional mothering tactics, Mame introduces the boy to her eccentric lifestyle, familiarizing him with her favorite quote “Life is a banquet and most people are starving to death.”

In the meantime, Mame’s life is always a rollercoaster ride, but 1929 proves to be an exceptional year. All is looking well until October when she loses all her money in the stock market crash. Plus Mame’s series of job failures adds humor to her desperate situation. On the other hand, her job failures introduce her to Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside, whom she eventually marries.

Back on the home front, Patrick is sent to boarding school by the trustees of his father’s estate, while Mame and Beauregard take an extended honeymoon. While in Europe, Beauregard is killed, and Mame returns to New York a wealthy widow.

When she returns, Mame is surprised to find that Patrick has become a priggish snob and is engaged to an empty headed debutante, Gloria Upson. Patrick now disdains Mame’s eccentricities and her ‘crazy’ friends.

Can Mame rescue Patrick from the snobbish Upson family before he marries Gloria?

To what lengths will Mame go to break the engagement and repair her relationship with Patrick?

Glenn Spell and Helen Rosengart direct the Averitt Center STARS production of “Mame,” starring Erin Wilson in the title role. Spell said, “‘Mame’ is one of my favorite shows. I was introduced to it in high school and have loved that quirky character ever since.”

“While the show is set in New York, every Southerner has that eccentric relative they are almost embarrassed to introduce to their friends. Mame is that person,” Spell explained. “You love them to death, but aren’t too sure what your friends will say when they meet them.”

Originally from Hazelhurst, Spell has been involved with theater since 1970. He is an original member of the Averitt STARS and has directed several musicals including the well-received “Hello, Dolly” and “Anything Goes.”

Spell is pleased with the cast members.

“Everyone works together so well, and Erin Wilson has a fabulous presence and a beautiful voice.”

Helen Rosengart, co-director, had her first taste of the theater spotlight in second grade and has been hooked since.

“Being involved with theater keeps me young,” she said.

“Seriously, there’s something about theater, something about the Emma Kelly Theater in particular,” she continued.

“It’s magical, every time I step in the doors; I’m flooded with happiness.”

“I feel so blessed to be working with this cast. They are so talented and dedicated–this show will be fabulous. It’s truly an event not be missed.”

Erin Wilson moved to Statesboro in August 2007. This talented area newcomer teaches private voice lessons at the Averitt Center and is a 17-year theater veteran.

“Glenn (Spell) and Helen (Rosengart) heard me perform in another show,” she explained. “They asked me to audition for the role of Mame.”

“It’s flattering and nerve-wracking at the same time to be asked to audition,” she continued. “I’m extremely grateful to have the opportunity to play this role. And I’m surrounded by other talented people. The directors bring out the best in their actors. Anita Hall has done an incredible job with costumes. To create flamboyant, expensive looking period costumes on a tight budget is extremely difficult. To have the periods cover such unique fashions from the 1920’s to the 1940’s — well, that’s even harder.”

Other cast members include Joshua Kemp as young Patrick; Margaret Klussman as Mame’s dearest friend, Vera Charles; Dr. Merry Gallagher as Agnes Gooch, Patrick’s nanny; and John Wolters as Beauregard.

“Mame” is a must see and Averitt STARS musicals are extremely popular.

“Mame” will hit the stage Feb. 27 and 28 at 7:30 p.m., March 6 and 7 at 7:30 p.m. and March 1 and 8 at 2 p.m. 

Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for children under 12, and are on sale through the Averitt Center Box Office; open Tuesday – Friday from 1–5:30 p.m. or by calling (912) 212-2787.