Thursday, May 14, 2015

Mack and Mabel

As with Fanny Brice, Gypsy Rose Lee and Maria Von Trapp, Mack Sennett and Mabel Normand have been preserved for future generations in a historically dubious musical. Legends say Mack and Mabel's glorious score was undercut by a gloomy book. There's a little more to it.

Mack and Mabel tells two competing stories. Mabel’s playing the tragic romance. She gets the best songs but most of her character growth happens off stage. Mack’s telling the story of his movie career. He gets 4-5 songs about his movies that start to sound alike. When people say glorious score they're right, but they're usually thinking more Time Heals Everything and less Hit 'Em On the Head.

There’s a large supporting cast with nothing to do because the book was cut to shreds during the out-of-town tryout. Gower Champion thought the key to the show were the re-enactments of Mack Sennet’s films but what’s lasted is Jerry Herman’s score. 

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