Talented Actresses Talk Mame at BCP

May 13, 2013 | by —Michelle Mass
Photography by Mandee Kuenzle, Bucks County Playhouse | Homepage

As the kickoff to the Bucks County Playhouse's summer season, veteran actresses Andrea McArdle and Lea DeLaria light up the stage in Mame, a musical that follows the wealthy/flighty Mame Dennis (McArdle) as she is unexpectedly left to care for her orphaned 10-year-old nephew—with a dose of support from her hilarious best friend/“world’s biggest lush” Vera Charles (DeLaria). Philadelphia Style sat down with the leading ladies to find out more about their characters, what it’s like to perform in Philadelphia, and more.

Tell us how your prior experiences in movies, TV shows, and Broadway, have shaped your careers?
ANDREA MCARDLE: Annie on Broadway was just magical for me. I was sharing the stage with the best of the best, it was an iconic show—this kind of thing is so rare. It's made me grateful for every second.
LEA DELARIA: I was the first openly gay comic to perform on TV in the US. That projected me right into the limelight in an aggressive way. I was regularly seen in sitcoms and movies throughout the ‘90s, then George Wolfe cast me as Hildy in the Broadway revival of On the Town, and I’ve never looked back. New York theater allowed me to sing, act, [and] play both men and women; straight and gay.

How did you get involved with the Bucks County Playhouse?
LD: Jed Bernstein has revitalized the playhouse. He called me to do the Vagina Monologues and Andrea was in that as well. As soon as she told me she was doing Mame, I called my manager to say I wanted to play Vera. Just the thought of us doing “Bosom Buddies” [a song between McArdle and DeLaria’s characters in Mame] made me squeal like a little girl.
AM: The playhouse is my legacy. I was there way back when, but I've returned because it’s doing great work, and I adore Jed.

What can audience members expect from Mame?
LD: It is a truly fun two-and-a-half hours of music, dancing, and over-consumption of booze.
AM: Yeah, the audience is really going to get a treat, this cast is a wonder and Jerry Herman's music will transport them.

Can either of you relate at all to the characters you play in Mame?
AM: Oh, so much so, I totally relate to Mame—she is a woman who becomes a woman when she is forced to become a "mother" to a little boy. This child enables her in becoming a true heroine.
LD: Vera Charles is New York City. She is sophisticated, stoned, and scintillating. I, on the other hand, am fiercely loyal to my friends, and I will always speak my mind…so no, I don’t relate to her at all!

How does it feel to perform in Philadelphia?
AM: I'm a Philly girl so performing here is always a gift! I just love this town, every step of it. Richard Jay-Alexander, the director of my cabaret show demanded that I be honest—well, Philly keeps me honest! Philly will always be my home.
LD: The audiences here are warm and quick and delightful. In fact, the other night when I went out for my bow, I brought a Philly Soft Pretzel [with me] and took a big bite out of it. The audience cheered. You could really feel how they loved that tribute to one of the town’s biggest draws. Then Andrea came out, took it from me and took a huge bite, and they rose to their feet!

Mame plays May 23-June 9 at the Bucks County Playhouse, 70 S. Main St., New Hope, 215-862-2121. Tickets ($29-58) are available on bcptheater.org

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