Tom: [Mame] was your first big real, that probably, the first of your several Broadway roles, because I don’t want to say the most, I think because your Mrs. Lovett is certainly up there in the pantheon as well, but your role of Mame one of the most outstanding in Broadway history and for you to live through that, wow.
Angela: Well, it was the introduction, shall we say, of me to the Broadway musical theatre BIG TIME. You know, I’d done Anyone Can Whistle with Stephen Sondheim and that was just scratching the surface of what I was going to hopefully do in future years and then I got to do it in Mame. So that was the culmination of a big dream really on my part to, you know, make it big in musical theatre. I wanted to sing. I wanted to move. I wanted to dance. And I got that opportunity and then I took it away and did it in various other ways with Dear World and of course, Gypsy. Gypsy was a breakthrough moment for me. Oh my God, yes. And to be able to bring that about. And I look back on it and at the time I didn’t even realize half the time what I was doing. Now I look back and think, ‘Gee, you did that, wow! Did you really do that?' You know? I don’t know how I did it truthfully.
Tom: You mean dramatically?
Angela: Dramatically, choices, choices I made as Mama Rose. I just saw some little clips the other day, they were kind of taken by some people, I think in the audience, some people in the wings, but I saw some tiny little bits of me playing Mama Rose, and I was so interested to see myself. It was so physical. I hadn’t realized how physical I was in the role. And that’s something you don’t until you just happen upon it, you have no way of knowing until you see yourself on film and nobody shot it, you know, legally. Illegally yes, but not legally.
Tom: Do you agree with the choices you made then dramatically?
Angela: Well, the little pieces I saw, yes, I did. I thought, yes, that was good. I now know what the core is to good musical theatre: it’s all about energy. And that’s something I’m finding out. But that’s true in any form of theatre, whether it’s drama, whether it’s comedy, whether it’s music, it’s energy.
Angela Lansbury to Tom O’Neal, for the Gold Derby, February 17, 2009