Mary performed in Julian Berry’s play “Lenny” at the Charles Playhouse in Boston in 1974

As Mary got older she ventured into more dramatic work and continued to work across the country.  This still is likely Mary performing in a play about the life of Lenny Bruce in Boston.  I learned of this from a summary of a program preserved by the Paley Center for Media an excerpt from which is sampled below.


One in this series of irregularly scheduled interview programs hosted by Boston drama critic Elliot Norton. This program features a discussion among cast members from the revival of Julian Berry’s play “Lenny” at the Charles Playhouse in Boston, which focuses on the life and tragic end of nightclub entertainer/comedian Lenny Bruce (1927-1966). Marty Brill, who plays Lenny, Mary Small, who plays Bruce’s mother, and the director, Jon Yates, discuss aspects of the production, including the effect of the Watergate scandal on the timeliness of the revival as compared with the 1971 Broadway production; Brill’s sympathetic portrayal of Bruce; audience reactions; and the decision to change the ending from the original production. Brill – a personal friend of Bruce’s – and the others share anecdotes about, and offer insight into, Bruce as a person and as a performer. Among the topics discussed are Bruce’s choice of language and the effect of obscenity in his act; his inflammatory style of comedy, as compared with the gentler style of Will Rogers; Bruce’s relationship with his audiences and his choice of subject matter; and his problems with the law, which led to his financial ruin, poor health, and finally, his death.

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