Mack & Mabel Review: Kev Castle

Based on the true romance between Hollywood legends Mack Sennett and Mabel Normand, Mack & Mabel received eight Tony Award nominations when it opened on Broadway in 1974.A Brooklyn deli-delivery girl turns up on the set of silent movie director, Mack Sennet, creator of the Keystone Cops. She catches his eye and soon his heart. Before long Mabel Normand is starring in Sennett’s two-reel movies and together they bring glamour to the silver screen.But showbiz and ambition make for a tempestuous relationship. Out of the Silent Movie era and the heady heights of 1920s Hollywood, Mack and Mabel tells of the love story of two of its greatest legends; director Mack Sennett ‘The King of Comedy’ and his star, comedienne Mabel Normand.

Photo courtesy of Betty Gamble Photography

This is one of those musicals that does not have the happiest of endings, and apart from saying that, I’m not going to tell you why, or what happens.Gareth Wynne emerges from the orchestra pit to show that he has everything it takes to be a romantic leading man in Max Sennett, with a powerful voice to match.Holly Easter,as Mabel, is another perfect casting. I knew that she has an incredible voice, and we get to hear just how incredible those vocal tones are in this show. This is also Holly’s first lead role, hard to believe I know! Brilliantly Directed as well by Julie Easter.Ania Zeman plays Lottie Ames,an actress in Sennett’s empire. we get to hear Lottie’s lovely vocals and her brilliant tapping talents. In the “Tap Your Troubles Away” section, Ania effortlessly sails through quite a long section wonderfully.

With the tap ensemble, you can see, and hear the hard work put in because all ten tappers, if you closed your eyes, sounded as if there were just the one. Each tap was heard just once, and that is something that is not as easy as it sounds. The proof of an excellent ensemble and a wonderful tap choreographer with Frankie Johnson.These three mains are backed by some very well known actors in local theatre; a cast that as soon as you see their names, guarantees an exciting and professional show.Ollie Lewin (Frank Wyman), Jack Hardy (Mr Baumann), Jordan Cope (Mr Kessell), Jarrod Makin (William Desmond Taylor), Carl Unwin (Roscoe “Fatty” Arbickle), Craig Butterworth (Andy), Anita Benson (Ella), Vicky Mee (Iris), Amy McMurray (Phyllis Foster) and Guy Benson (The Watchman).One of the scenes that really does need a mention is the scene where the Keystone Kops are featured. The choreography of this scene is one of the most clever and inspired, with audible gasps from the audience being plainly heard several times.

Vicki Hing is the Musical Director, and as soon as I saw this, just knew the sound was going to be amazing. I was not wrong. The lush arrangements created by this 19 strong orchestra was an aural delight.Just listening to the harmonies created by this cast and ensemble, you can imagine these stage scenes coming direct from one of the classic Hollywood movies. The sound is heavenly.Most musical theatre fans will know the main song from the show in “I Won’t Send Roses”, but there are so many other memorable songs from this soundtrack.”Look What Happened To Mabel”, “Mack & Mabel”, “I Wanna Make The World Laugh”, “When Mabel Comes Into the Room”, “Tap Your Troubles Away” and the gorgeous “Time Heals Everything”.The Sound Design for this show was crystal clear. I could hear every word and the orchestra/actors sound mix was perfect. Rob Temperton is the man responsible for this perfection, assisted by Harry Bridge.

Lighting Design for this show is by Robert Bridges and really adds that glitter to the show.The Set Design, by Scenic Projects, is everything you could ask for from the Hollywood 1920’s era.I mentioned Frankie Johnson as the tap choreographer, and there were many other gorgeous choreographed pieces, as you’s imagine for the Hollywood era. Michael Gamble has done an excellent job, as he always does.Loved the costumes and wigs for the show. they brought that 1920’s glamour to life.Even if sometimes I don’t mention negatives in some of the reviews that i produce, with this show, i honestly did not find one negative thing at all. The show is as smooth as silk and would easily pass as a professional touring production if you didn’t know.This is another excellent production from Christchurch Theatre Club, and one you should not miss out on.“Mack & Mabel” is at Loughborough Town Hall until Saturday 1 February.

Original source: Kev Castle website