Close this search box.

well established and here for you

independently owned and operated since 1977

Ushering in the Roaring Twenties

Mary Callanan and Brian Patton Start the Party in Provincetown

by Steve Desroches

Mary Callanan was living the dream. She landed a role in the national tour of My Fair Lady and had just pulled into Columbus for a run at the historic Ohio Theatre in the Buckeye state, just across Capitol Square from the State House. The production was just about a quarter of the way into the tour when they played to a packed house on March 12, 2020. By the next day, Ohio governor Mike DeWine enacted a strict lockdown to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic, shutting the show down indefinitely. That was it. Shows over. While she was offered a flight home, she chose to drive twelve hours instead, landing back at her Weymouth home tired and confused, like much of America wondering what’s next and how long will this last.

With the tick-tick-ticking of the clock Callanan, who has been a working actress and performer for over 20 years, was going stir crazy. She and her husband were used to spending large periods of time apart, with Callanan on the road so often. But here she was with nothing to do but the laundry. That’s when her longtime pal Brian Patton called. The duo is well known in Boston and Provincetown as a beloved cabaret act. They had the itch to perform, but how? Like so many other out-of-work entertainers they took invested in ring lights and iPhone stands and took their act to the world of the virtual cabaret.

“We saved each other’s lives,” says Callanan. “I lost my job and ended up back home. And do what? God forbid I became a housewife! My husband was now working from our dining room table and I’m out of work. So I’m going to do the cooking and the cleaning? That’s hilarious.”

Mary Callanan & Brian Patton

Weekly, Callanan and Patton presented virtual cabaret shows together, but from each other’s respective homes. It would have to do, and the two consummate performers did their best. But performing to a tiny screen with no applause and no real idea if there is even an audience can be a bit soul-crushing. That’s why this Memorial Day weekend, as all the health care protocols we’ve lived with for 14 months are lifted by Governor Charlie Baker, Callanan and Patton are thrilled to present their first live show since the beginning of the pandemic with Unmasked & Unglued, a musical, comedic romp about the blur of a year we just experienced.

Callanan cannot wait to get to Provincetown, so to does Patton, she says, especially as he’s still overwhelmed with his day job working with senior citizens, work that still requires thoughtful protocols and overtime, thus why he can’t join Callanan to talk about what they have in store when they take to the stage at the Pilgrim House. Specifically, they are a “special delivery” from the Post Office Cabaret, the storied venue that booked them, but won’t be open until July 1 for shows, thus the sharing agreement. Callanan is well aware of the party that is about to explode this holiday weekend and likely last until the New Year in Provincetown, with most everyone ready to shake off the cabin fever and isolation of the pandemic. She partied here in her twenties and thirties with a gaggle of gay men and straight women before she and Patton came to town for CabaretFest fifteen years ago landing a summer gig. Callanan laughs when she thinks what’s ahead for Provincetown.

“You have the Roaring Twenties coming down the pike heading right for you,” says Callanan. “It’s all heading your way. Gird your loins. Batten down the hatches. Sending love to you all! It’s going to be nuts!”

Callanan and Patton met at the University of Lowell (now the University of Massachusetts Lowell) when she heard the smooth musical sounds of Burt Bacharach coming from the private cubicle Patton was in. Most of the other music students were listening to classical or opera. Callanan walked in uninvited and the two have been thick as thieves ever since. Their Provincetown adventure started when they played a summer at the Crown and Anchor. Part of their success was because as a duo they could play for three hours straight, continuing to play while the other took a bathroom break, which is helpful because as soon as the music stops the room clears out immediately, she says.

Over time they’ve developed proper cabaret shows, always a big hit wherever they go, but especially here in Provincetown. The free spirit of Provincetown allows performers to go in all kinds of directions more uptight locales wouldn’t go for. You never know what to expect when you see a show in Provincetown. And you never know who is going to be in the audience, either, she adds. Its while performing in Provincetown she’s been approached by Broadway producers and theater owners, that have led to her appearing on the Great White Way in the musicals Annie and Bandstand, as well as regional and touring companies, including a production of Les Misйrables where she and Ryan Landry provided comic relief as the petty thieves the Thйnardiers.  As for the shows this Memorial Day weekend, all Callanan knows is that it can’t help but be a good time as there is such a hunger for real life after living virtually for so long.

“We just want everyone to feel like they’re a guest in our home, at our party,” says Callanan. “We just want everyone to relax and have fun. Make a memory of your time in Provincetown. We become part of your evening out whether you see us after dinner or before heading out for a night on the town. It’s that energy that we give that I think is why we’ve lasted as long as we have in Provincetown.”

Mary Callanan & Brian Patton present Unmasked & Unglued on Friday, May 28 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, May 29 at 6 p.m. at the Pilgrim House, 336 Commercial St. Tickets ($40/$45) are available at the door and online at For more information call 508.487.6424.

Recent Posts

Sign up for our Newsletter

Scroll to Top

Sign up for our Newsletter

Graphic Artist

Ginger Mountain

Ginger Mountain (MS Communications Media, BA Fine Arts/Teaching Certification K-12) has been part of the graphic design team at Provincetown Magazine since 2008. Ginger has worked as a creative director, individual contractor, and freelance designer with clients representing many areas —business software, consumer products, professional services, entertainment, and network hardware to name just a few — providing creative layout and development of a wide range of print media content. Her clients ranged from small local businesses to large corporations and Fortune 500 companies, from New Hampshire to Georgia

Keep in touch

Fill in your details and I will get back to you in no time.

Phone: + 1 508-487-1000 ext 6
[email protected] 14 Center St. Provincetown MA, 02657