MONMOUTH – “I Remember Mama,” one of the most beloved plays in American theater, is coming to the Cumston Hall stage beginning March 26, courtesy of Monmouth Community Players.
“It’s a charming and heartwarming story that follows the ups and downs of an immigrant Norwegian family making their way in San Francisco of the early 1900s,” said Christine D. Heckman, who is making her directorial debut for MCP.
“It’s a wonderful family show,” she said. “It’s the kind of play you can bring your grandmother and your grandchildren to see.”
Heckman described the plot as “Katrin’ s coming-of-age story.” Most of the action takes place in the family kitchen, with other boarding house, hospital and street scenes.
The play is based on the book “Mama’s Bank Account,” by Kathryn Forbes. Produced by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, it opened on Broadway in 1944 and featured the Broadway debut of a young Marlon Brando.
The play, written by John Van Druten, also inspired a movie that was nominated for five Oscars, and later a popular television series.
Heckman said it was a delight working with the youngsters in the cast and a pleasure to direct Dan Salisbury of Readfield as Papa in his first stage appearance, but “it was a real challenge working with the cats.”
The first cat considered for the feline portrayal of Uncle Elizabeth seemed to be mellow when held, Heckman said; but given the chance, the cat dashed off under the stage and stayed there for days before being lured out.
The cast includes Richard Messana of Livermore as Uncle Chris, Colleen Mahan of Greene as Mama, Jocelyn Curtis of Greene as Katrin, Matt Buganza of Lewiston as Nels, Casey Griffin of Lewiston as Christine, and Anna Bilodeau and Kimberlee Lewis, both of Monmouth, doubling as Dagmar.
The cat’s role of Uncle Elizabeth is shared by Domino Bilodeau of Monmouth and Midnight Lattin of Winthrop. Harmony Lattin and Markus Bilodeau get program credit as “cat wranglers.”
Molly F. McGill of Greene appears as Aunt Jenny; Buffy Dumont of Lewiston plays Aunt Sigrid; Emily Trefethen of Litchfield plays Aunt Trina; Gregor Smith of Belgrade plays Mr. Thorkelson; Raymond Fletcher of Monmouth plays Mr. Hyde; Andy Tolman of Readfield plays Doctor Johnson; and Chris Dumont of Lewiston and Logan Lattin of Winthrop double as Arne.
Supporting roles are played by Lisa Patton of Livermore Falls, Kendra Richards of Turner, Jasmin Richards of Livermore Falls, Megan Record of North Monmouth, Joshua Oakes of Monmouth and Jeanne Fletcher of Monmouth.
Behind the scenes, the crew includes Linda Duarte of Lewiston as stage manager and program designer; Melanie Brown of Augusta, stage hand; Lucie and Duane Glover of Winthrop, co-producers; Ann Fairchild of Monmouth, Emily Trefethen of Litchfield and Lucie Glover, costumers. Also, Jeanne Fletcher of Monmouth, lighting design; Gary Currier, lighting technician; Jen Schultz of Monmouth, box office; and Dan Bilodeau of Monmouth and Linda Duarte, prop masters.
Heckman has a master’s degree in theater from the University of Wyoming. She was faculty adviser for MAD Players, the Monmouth Academy drama club, for 16 years. She directed a student performance of “I Remember Mama” in the early 1990s.
Go and do
WHAT: “I Remember Mama”
WHO: Monmouth Community Players
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, March 26-27; 2 p.m. Sunday, March 28; 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, April 1-2; and 2 p.m. Saturday, April 3 (no show on Easter Sunday)
WHERE: Cumston Hall, 796 Main St., Monmouth
TICKETS: call 933-2229