Mack & Mabel review

~ The Argus by Ian Murray- 22/07/15 ~

IYou get the impression that working with famed director Mack Sennett was not always a bundle of laughs.

The Hollywood pioneer who left millions around the world doubled up in stitches and helped create such comic legends as Charlie Chaplin, Fatty Arbuckle and, of course, his very own Keystone Cops, was quite the tyrant on the set.

His relationship with his most successful comic leading lady Mabel Normand was tempestuous ads well as complicated. The girl he found working as a sandwich seller and turned into one of the silent movies’ most successful stars, was also his lover for many of their years together.

Mack and Mabel tells the story of that ill-fated relationship that was to leave the world with some of the funniest early films. In an age before ‘talkies’ Mack and Mabel were gold dust scattered on a silver screen.

In this new production of the 1974 musical, Mack is played by the marvellous Michael Ball. His grumpy movie mogul captures perfectly the driven man who could urge his actors and production teams on to churn out 15 films in three weeks to feed the insatiable cinema going public’s demand for new works.

Ball soars in this production, belting out such numbers as Movies Were Movies, I Won’t Send Roses and I Wanna Make The World Laugh.

His Mabel is played by Rebecca LaChance in superb style. A tremendous talent, LaChance emerges quickly from the almost tomboy shophand to become confident comic movie star who makes the early running in the romance stakes. Numbers such as Look What Happened To Mabel , Wherever He Aint and Time Heals Everything brought an explosive response from the opening night audience.

In a strong cast, standout performances include Jack Edwards as a surprisingly nimble on his feet Fatty Arbuckle, Gunner Cauthery as writer Frank Wyman, and hot hoofer Anna-Jane Casey as Lottie Ames.

The dance numbers are superb, choreographed by Stephen Mear fresh from last season’s success with Gypsy which is now running in the West End. The brilliant Keystone Cops routine had the audience hooting in delight.


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