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Jerry Herman on 'Mame,' One Grand Dame

Composer Jerry Herman.
Jesse Baker, NPR
Composer Jerry Herman.

Broadway composer and lyricist Jerry Herman has won Tonys, Grammys and a spot in the Theatre Hall of Fame. His first Broadway show, 1961's Milk and Honey, was followed by the smash hit Hello, Dolly! in 1964.

Then came Mame, which opened on Broadway in 1966 and is getting fresh attention these days. A 40th-anniversary production is running at the Kennedy Center through July 2, starring Christine Baranski and directed by Eric Shaeffer.

Angela Lansbury starred in the original Mame, which piled up 1,508 performances on the Great White Way. Rosalind Russell created the role in the 1958 stage comedy Auntie Mame, which wasn't a musical. The story was first told in a 1955 novel by Patrick Dennis.

Herman tells Liane Hansen about the road to Broadway, his reaction to the revival and how he has adapted the work to fit so many different leading ladies over the years.

NPR's Jesse Baker produced this feature.

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