A smorgasbord of visual and verbal delights

“Life’s a banquet, and most poor sons-of-bitches are starving to death!” Near the close of the nearly two-and-a-half hour, effervescent musical Mame, Peter Dennis delivered his great Auntie’s motto with irrepressible glee. And that’s how almost everything is done in this story of a free-spirited Manhattan socialite who inherits a nephew, based on Patrick Dennis’ supposedly-autobiographical 1955 novel. The iconic Mame has been played by Angela Lansbury, Ginger Rogers, and Lucille Ball over the years, and here Seattle’s Dee Hoty (a Broadway veteran doing much better for herself than Randy Quaid is following their ill-fated gig in Lone Star Love last fall) inhabits the role with ease and the requisite eccentricity. Patrick (Nick Robinson), who arrives at her doorstep in the middle of the ‘20s (and the middle of a party), is a blank canvas which she aims to vibrantly decorate by showing him all that “real life” has to offer. The funniest and most memorable scenes occur as the eras and relationships change—such as during the duet between Mame and nutty actress Vera Charles (a hilariously faux-wasted Carol Swarbrick), when they strengthen their friendship by arguing over who’s “the bitchier bitch,” or the fox-hunt-gone-wrong that endears her to her Southern beau Beauregard’s snooty family. The story is as much about Patrick as it is Mame. For the kid, she wants a life of possibilities. For herself: “Bosom Buddies,” a glittering wardrobe, and another martini. 5th Avenue Theatre, 1308 Fifth Ave., 625-1900. $20-$77. 7:30 p.m. Tues.-Wed., 8 p.m. Thurs.-Sat., 2 p.m. Sat., 1:30 p.m. Sun. Ends March 2. RACHEL SHIMP

Wed., Feb. 27, 7:30 p.m.; Thu., Feb. 28, 8 p.m.; Fri., Feb. 29, 8 p.m.; Sat., March 1, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., March 2, 1:30 p.m., 2008

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