Once again, Kevin Hansen steps into the sequins as a lead in a Jerry Herman show at Minneapolis Musical Theatre. This time, unlike his turn in “La Cage Aux Folles,” he’s meant to be playing a woman — the larger-than-life lead in “Mame.”
There’s nothing campy about Hansen’s performance — well, aside from a few lines given new emphasis with the gender change. He’s playing Mame as a woman, through and through. And Hansen’s only the tip of the iceberg in an entertaining production of the musical, which overcomes occasional rough spots to be a real delight.
The musical traces the relationship between the free-spirit Mame and her nephew and ward, Patrick, from the height of the swinging ‘20s through the worst of the Depression. It’s sometimes tough to connect with the episodic script, but there’s nothing at all wrong with Herman’s score, which is packed with classic musical moments.
Into this steps Hansen, who commands the stage — as Mame should — from the very first moment until the last. No matter what life tosses at her — financial ruin, marriage and widowhood, or conflicts with her nephew — the character keeps driving forward, and you get the same sense of energy, drive and deep humanity from Hansen.
The balance of the cast gives strong performances, and while MMT doesn’t have the budget of other theaters, it makes up for that with an innovative, Spartan set by Joshua Stevens and clever direction and choreography by Steven Meerdink.
“Mame” runs through June 27 at the Illusion Theater, 8th floor of the Hennepin Center for the Arts, 528 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis. Tickets are $25 to $28. For tickets and information, call 612-339-4944 or visit online.