Mack and Mabel

by Book by Michael Stewart Music and Lyrics by Jerry Herman Revised by Francine Pascal

Mack and Mabel had 4 performances over 9 years ago (between the 26th of November 2008 and the 29th of November 2008)

Set between 1911 and 1938 “Mack and Mabel” is based on real characters working in the movies during that time in America. The main emphasis of the plot is based around the tumultuous relationship between the title characters Hollywood comic Director, Mack Sennett, and the silent screen star he discovered, Mabel Normand.

The musical begins with Mack reminisces about his career it is 1938 and the days of the silent film are over, and so too is Mack’s career. In a series of flashbacks Sennett relays the glory days of his first studio in which Mabel is discovered and goes on to star in his early “two-reelers”. Then he recounts his invention of the Bathing Beauties, moves onto the creation of the Keystone Cops and ends with Mabel returning to star in his first full length feature. In the centre of this musical is a romance, but this is surrounded by slapstick comics, great dance routines, pathos, a fabulous score and a tinge of sadness. Mabel falls helplessly in love with Mack (who is historically 14 years her senior) and works tirelessly to please him. Mack also falls for Mabel’s quirky charm but his stubborn and aggressive personality prevents him from ever openly declaring the love he feels for her, although they do embark on an affair. Mack is a workaholic and is always trying to think of the next gimmick to make the audiences laugh. As Mabel is pushed to work on several movies at a time she becomes hooked on pills to enable her to continue at Mack’s relentless pace. As Sennett becomes more successful Mabel realizes that much of this is down to her and attempts to get Mack to acknowledge this by giving her more artistic integrity. Mack humiliates Mabel by sleeping with another woman and as a result she leaves not only the Studios but also him. Mabel is swept up by serious director W.D. Taylor who values her acting and on the surface treats her with kindness and consideration, however it is Taylor that is responsible for getting Mabel hooked on hard drugs and alcohol to sustain their party life style. Although Mabel makes a go of things with Taylor and stars in his films she never falls out of love with Mack. Although Sennett goes onto to create further box office smashes with his keystone cops he too never forgets Mabel. Sadly Taylor is murdered in Mabel’s presence and the ensuing scandal wrecks her career. In an attempt to help her make a clean start, Sennett agrees to make her the star of a romantic drama, “Molly O”, which he goes on to direct. However, the odium still attached to Mabel’s name means the film is never screened before her death of some say a heroin overdose other tuberculosis aged only 35. Not your usually “happily ever after” musical ending!

A flyer for this production giving full booking details is available from the link at http://rdg.org/flyers/mack-and-mabel.pdf

Person small1

Mack Sennett - Wally Walters

A whisky slugging workaholic. His fading memories are vividly conveyed to the audience as he looks back over his career. Mack is driven and egotistical with echoes of wistful melancholy he is an autocrat with a soft centre, a barking control freak whose tenderness is carefully concealed.
This is not the usual one-dimensional musical role, this actor must be very competent. Able to portray not only Mack’s drive and self centered personality but also show the inner turmoil and the love and tenderness he has for Mabel, without showing her. He must also equally be a great singer as he leads many of the songs. The lynch pin of the show.

Person small1

Lottie Ames - Jenny Powell

A silent movie actress who, before Mabel arrives, is Mack’s star. Sparky, energetic with lots of personality. She is always optimistic. Has two solo songs one which includes tapping! Mabel’s close friend.

Small1

Freddie - Adam Roberts

Silent Film Actor. Member of the studio family who acts, brings in props, sings and is part of the family group.

Person small1

Frank Wyman - Chris Knights

A young man who starts the musical as the 16 year old paper boy. As the plot moves on he grows up and become an actor, writer and director. A sensitive soul with great writing talent. He falls in love with Mabel, but knows it is unrequited.

Small1

Mabel Normand - Jean Warner

A needy waitress turned silent film star. Quirky, impish, charismatic, sexy and a tomboy. There is great depth to this role as she declines into drugs and booze and disintegrates before our eyes. As the mismatch in the ambitions of Mack and Mabel become more obvious we see her growing love and subsequent pain and fury. Again not the usual one-dimensional musical role, this actress must be gutsy, exuberant, brash and heartrending as she charts the decline and fall of her career, her love, and ultimately her life. We have to watch her age over 20 years and change in character. Also needs to be a competent singer who can sing in different styles but able to cope with soaring ballards.

Small1

William Desmond Taylor - Keith Bollands

A handsome, suave, charming, serious film director who has an affair with Mabel. He is instrumental in Mabel's increased drug habit and is shot in a scandal involving Mabel. A speaking role only.

Small1

Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle - Jake Wallis

A very physical comedic actor, who is obviously supposed to be on the rotund side! Kindly and larger than life character. Great facial expressions!

Person small1

Ella - Faith Powell

A pianist and a talented singer. Like all of the others in the Studio Family sings a lot and is involved in re-creating the silent movies.

Person small1

Kessel - Tony Frier

A tall accountant/producer who plays a strong role within the Family. A dominant, sharp suited presence.

Person small1

Bauman - Ian Thomas

Kessel's short sidekick, the other half of a comedy singing duo

Person small1

Andy - Jakub Bednar

Camera Man. Member of the studio family who acts, bring in props, sings and is part of the family group.

Person small1

Louie - Stephanie Carter

Continuity Girl. Member of the studio family who acts, bring in props, sings and is part of the family group.

Person small1

Dancers - Rachael Davis-Taylor

These will be Bathing Beauties, Keystone cops, Acrobats, Studio helpers, writers etc…and those that tap will be involved in the “Tap your troubles away” dance.

Person small1

Dancers - Annelly James

Small1

Dancers - Gemma Murphy

Small1

Dancers - Rachel Price

Person small1

Dancers - Bianca Clark

Person small1

Dancers - Karen Regent

Small1

Dancers - Vicki Thomas

Person small1

Dancers - Aimee Pye

Small1

Dancers - Samantha Ivey

Person small1

Ruth - Emma Thompson

The Dresser

Person small1

Gertie - Nicola Anderson

Silent Film Actress

Person small1

Harry - Lexi Grainger

Lighting Technician

Original

Archie - Tom Hudson

Props boy

Person small1

Netty - Nancy Lund

Make Up Girl

Person small1

Dancers - Kiera McCormack

Person small1

Dancers - Olivia James

Small1

Director/Choreographer - Carolyn Floyd

Small1

Musical Director - Paul Henry

Person small1

Stage Manager - Liz Thomas

Person small1

Lighting - Jonathan Miller

Small1

Set Design and Construction - John Godliman

Small1

Musical Director - Paul Henry