I Remember Mama

Spring 1963

Click to enlarge

I Remember Mama - by John Van Druten
Performed -  Thurs 21st to Sat 23rd March 1963 at the Blenkin Memorial Hall

Adapted from the book 'Mama's Bank Account' by Kathryn Forbes, the play focuses on a family of Norwegian immigrants living on Steiner Street, San Francisco in 1910.

Boston, Too, Will Remember This So-Sweet Mama
Its not for those who prefer their dreams of the kitchen sink variety. Or for those who revel in nothing but Whitehall type farces.

But Boston Playgoers current production of John van Druten’s “I Remember Mama” has much to commend it for all with more middle-of-the-road theatrical tastes.

It is never easy for an amateur group to follow successfully in the wake of a memorable film version of the same work. Comparison between a polished Hollywood production and the subsequent offering in a local hall can prove decidedly odious.

On this occasion, Playgoers have taken this pretty formidable obstacle in their stride – and with a high measure of success (writes G.S.B.)

They are assisted greatly, of course, by the fact that this saccharine sweet tale of a Norwegian family settled in the ‘Frisco of pre-World War I has a certain timeless quality. It is as topical now as when it was first written.

The story, needless to say, centres on Mama, the understanding, sympathetic, ever-loving head of the household (though she would be the first to give this doubtful privilege to Papa).

This is a challenging role for any actress – and Margaret Dobney (last seen as the schoolmistress in Emlyn Williams’ “The Corn is Green”) accepts the challenge and scores a notable personal success.

But it is by no means a one-woman show. Arthur Dalby-Phillips succeeds admirably in bringing Papa to life and making of him something a good deal more than a pale shadow flickering in the glow of Mama’s goodness.

Last night, too, owing to the illness of the society’s president (Mr A. B. Stephenson) he had to read the role of Uncle Chris, a fire-eating dragon of a man with, as it transpires, a heart of gold. And a splendid job he made of it.

Yvonne Rennie gives a sound performance as the eldest daughter and narrator of the play. It was unfortunate, though, that some of the recorded narration was “drowned” by background music.

With a 20-strong cast the opportunity has been taken to introduce a considerable number of newcomers. Though in some cases the “newness” shows this did not detract overmuch from the success of the whole.

The younger members of the family are played by Judith Weldon, Christine Smith and Nigel Wilkinson, and the three aunts by Bridget Robinson and two newcomers, Guia Baker and Frances Dalby-Phillips.

John Cammack, a born scene stealer, gets every ounce of fun out of the role of the undertaker, who woos and weds one of the aunts.

Two other experienced players who take small roles with their usual competence are Jack Alexander (as the family lodger) and Fred George (the doctor).

Also in the cast are Elsie Jakes, Sharman Hall (two roles), Stephen Furniss, Diana Hensman and Joyce Grindall.

The direction is by Mike Roe, who is to be congratulated on the success of this his first production for the society. The play is being repeated at the Memorial Hall tonight (Friday) and tomorrow.

Actors names on right:

Katrin Hanson - Yvonne Rennie
Mama - Margaret Dobney
Papa - Arthur Dalby-Phillips
Dagmar Hanson - Judith Weldon
Christine Hanson - Christine Smith
Mr Hyde - Jack Alexander
Nels Hanson - Nigel Wilkinson
Aunt Trina - Bridget Robinson
Aunt Jenny - Guia Baker
Aunt Sigrid - Frances Dalby-Phillips
Uncle Chris - A. B. Stephenson
A Woman - Elsie Jakes
Dr Johnson - Fred George
Mr Thorkelson - John Cammack
A Nurse - Sharman Hall
Arne - Stephen Furniss
Madeline - Diana Hensman
Dorothy - Sharman Hall
Florence Dana Moorhead - Joyce Grindall

Production Team

Producer - Mike Roe
Stage Manager - Nick Broughton
Set Design - 
Stage Crew - John Cammack, Nick Broughton, Mervyn Gould, Patrick Butler, George Budge, Dorothy Woodcock, Michael Haynes, Colin Atkins
Costume - 
Properties - 
Lighting - George Budge
Sound - Mervyn Gould
Publicity -