|MUSICAL LOOKED LIKE FUN TO
"I didn't anticipate how really tough it (Mame) would be."
The following article appeared in the February 26, 1969
Los Angeles Herald-Examiner
Bill Pollock - Herald-Examiner Staff Writer
"You charm the husk right off of the corn--Mame,"so goes Jerry Herman's lyrical tribute to the flamboyant heroine of the musical comedy bearing her familiar name.
The bevy of actresses who have played the swinging aunt have succeeded in charming the considerably tougher husks off audiences everywhere with their own unique brand of talent.
Not the least of these was screen star Susan Hayward, last in the legion of leading ladies to turn her hip to the portrayal of the cloche capped queen of camp.
Granting the legend that lurking in the heart of every comedian is the dark desire to bellow the bard and that Tallschiefs to be will bounce into a bugaloo at the drop of a toutou, does not fully explain why an actress as successful as Susan Hayward would venture into the world of bedlam, with a beat.
Money? Certainly always a consideration. It has been reported that the salary for high stepping for the amusement of the oasis version of a theater goer was a paltry $25,000 per week. Generous yes, but more than money would have been needed to lure Miss Hayward away from the sunshine of Florida where she lives and enjoys the fruits of a lucrative career of 30 years in films.
What then? A chance to pick the plum of the currently ripening movie role? Perhaps; but a five time Academy Award nominee and once winner of the golden statuette need not audition --she would most certainly have been in the running without it.
The fact is Miss Hayward just didn't realize what she was getting into.
Producer Marty Rackin was the first person to suggest she play the zany aunt. "I thought it over and then I went and saw Angela Lansbury in it," she recalls. "She was so great and seemed to be having such a good time herself that I was suddenly aware there are roles that actresses can do in which they can have as much fun as the audience."
It's rugged fun. The show is physically exhausting. During the twice nightly stint at Caesar's Palace, Miss Hayward was on stage almost continously during which she had 40 costume changes. She worked 10 hours a day for three months preparing for the part. It was to be her first singing and dancing role and the first time she ever played before a live audience.
One top of that Las Vegas' answer to the glory that was Rome is not the easiest place to play. The room where "Mame" is presented is called The Circus Maximus and at dinner time strongly resembles the original. It's big, and at the first show, diners salute the steaks about to be eaten with noisy gusto. An atmosphere hardly conducive to subtlety and the on stage doings are conducted at break neck pace and throat straining pitch. At times, during the performance, the actress in Miss Hayward could be seen visibly searching for a moment in which to create mood. However the unsatiable appetite of the pleasure seekers would have none of that and the frenzied doings continued.
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