Will Mack and Mabel EVER work on stage?

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BobbyBubby
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Will Mack and Mabel EVER work on stage?#0
Posted: 12/23/05 at 12:43pm
I've never seen a production, and I understand this show is plagued with major book problems, but I find this score irresistable. Every number, for me, is near perfection. It's a shame the book doesn't measure up. Do you think it will ever be fixed?
Updated On: 12/23/05 at 12:43 PM
kelly0ann
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re: Will Mack and Mabel EVER work on stage?#1
Posted: 12/23/05 at 12:47pm
We did Mack and Mabel here and it was actually a really good show....book and all.
Danielm
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re: Will Mack and Mabel EVER work on stage?#2
Posted: 12/23/05 at 12:47pm
I think it's a case of subject matter. It's really a dark, sad story that the writers are unwilling to let be dark or sad. It's a great score, but one that in many ways is inappropriate to the stroy.
Yes, we do need a third vampire musical.--Little Sally, Gypsy of the Year 2005.
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re: Will Mack and Mabel EVER work on stage?#3
Posted: 12/23/05 at 12:56pm
i have seen the show and i think it works well. dont know what book problems you are referring to. can you be more specific.
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BobbyBubby
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I don't know the book well enough to critique. But every article/book I've read sites the book as the major issue.
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Maybe Adam Pascal can play Mack and Shoshana Bean can play Mabel and then people on this board will actually care.
grizzabella
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I feel the same way you do about this, Bobby. I've never seen a production, but I've become a fan of the score, which I think is adorable. From what I've read, the subject matter is a big part of the problem, as Danielm pointed out. The story is very dark. Mabel Normand started out as a popular and promising performer who wound up drug addicted and dead by her mid-thirties, and Mack Sennett was completely obsessed with making two-reelers, even after they'd become passe to the industry. Trying to create some sort of star-crossed lovers story out of this doesn't really work if you look at it in any realistic way.
Maybe those who have been in productions and made the book work as well as it could, could enlighten us about aspects of the show that really do work well. From what I've heard, Herman's wonderful score carries it along but to an unresolved and unsatisfactory conclusion.
"And the postman sighed as he scratched his head, you really rather thought she ought to be dead..."
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You can't recreate silent movies on the stage, but if any flop deserves to work, it's Mack and Mabel.
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Well Mack and Mabel, Pacific Overtures, Merrily We Roll Along and Anyone Can Whistle, nmartin...
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Pacific Overtures was just revived on Broadway.
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re: Will Mack and Mabel EVER work on stage?#10
Posted: 12/23/05 at 2:32pm
It would be great if someone could get 'Merrily' to work.
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re: Will Mack and Mabel EVER work on stage?#11
Posted: 12/23/05 at 2:46pm
We went at it as more of a satire. We didn't play up the dark subject matter and it played more as a comedy. It is one of my favorite shows, I love it. The score is amazing!

The silent film scenes aren't a problem, there is a lot of slapstick.

We also cut Tap Your Troubles Away. It is very innapropriatly placed.

You have to have extremely strong leads to pull the show off. I've seen it done as a concert and it works a lot better.
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re: Will Mack and Mabel EVER work on stage?#12
Posted: 12/23/05 at 2:55pm
It was BobbyBubby, but did it work? Did it succeed?

Sadly, not.
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re: Will Mack and Mabel EVER work on stage?#13
Posted: 12/23/05 at 3:02pm
Of all of the "great score, sub-par book" shows, Mack and Mabel is one of the better ones. I saw the 1995 London production with Howard McGillin and Caroline O'Connor, and the privilege of hearing that incredible score lived superceded the weak script. If done correctly (which is rare), this show can really come alive on-stage. Unfortuantely, there have been many mediocre productions.
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re: Will Mack and Mabel EVER work on stage?#14
Posted: 12/23/05 at 3:03pm
It was a limited run, in a non-commercial venue. You can't really apply succeed to limited runs. Pacific Overtures would never be revived by a commercial producer.

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re: Will Mack and Mabel EVER work on stage?#15
Posted: 12/23/05 at 4:10pm
The show has never worked, not the least because of its downbeat ending. But that's only one of its many problems. For a show dealing with slapstick and comedy, there are mighty few yocks in the script; the romance is paper-thin and barely delineated; situations like Mabel disrupting the film shoot are contrived and cliched; and by the time she succumbs to her addictions, there is nothing left for the character to do (and the actress to play) but look sad.
You'd need to throw the whole thing out and start from scratch and that seems unlikely at this point.

Tilde Kooeck
Amsterdam, The Netherlands




Updated On: 12/23/05 at 04:10 PM
kelly0ann
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re: Will Mack and Mabel EVER work on stage?#16
Posted: 12/23/05 at 4:19pm
Well, it is a true story.
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re: Will Mack and Mabel EVER work on stage?#17
Posted: 12/23/05 at 4:19pm
It doesn't really have a downbeat ending though, does it? I seem to remember them avoiding really going into her death and just doing a numbo.
Yes, we do need a third vampire musical.--Little Sally, Gypsy of the Year 2005.
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re: Will Mack and Mabel EVER work on stage?#18
Posted: 12/23/05 at 4:30pm
No, I'm just saying you can't completely change it...unless you fictionalize it.
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re: Will Mack and Mabel EVER work on stage?#19
Posted: 12/23/05 at 4:49pm
I saw the original & enjoyed it. The story is dark with no happy ending so what are the bookwriters to do
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re: Will Mack and Mabel EVER work on stage?#20
Posted: 12/23/05 at 5:49pm
I really wish it would...and would stick around for a while, as it's easily one of my favorite scores of all time.

I think the biggest problem with the show is that although the story is very dark and dim, the slapstick movie sequences necessary and the big, brassy score are not. So therefore, those things tend to remove the audience from the essentially dark drama that goes down in the show. In short, the show feels inconsistent.

How much weight my opinion holds is debatable, as I've never seen it performed, but I've read the original unrevised script and heard both recordings, and from what experience I've had with it, that seems to be the biggest problem.
I'm an old show queen , and I'm not even 30.
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re: Will Mack and Mabel EVER work on stage?#21
Posted: 12/23/05 at 6:48pm

Yes, I think the score is very fine and brilliantly orchestrated. But, when all is said and done, I don't think the subject was stageworthy nor was there an idea behind it that merited execution.


Jerusha Bromley
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re: Will Mack and Mabel EVER work on stage?#22
Posted: 12/23/05 at 8:08pm
I do think the show, while bookheavy at times, is very good. I think its failure deserves to be blamed on, forgive me, Gower Champion. He tinkered with the show so much that by the time it left California (where it got stellar reviews) and arrived in DC it had been so tinkered with that the show had been lost in the fixing.
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re: Will Mack and Mabel EVER work on stage?#23
Posted: 12/23/05 at 8:12pm
I saw the London production about 10 years ago and even with its flaws I was really moved at the end. The book's many shortcomings can be fixed.

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re: Will Mack and Mabel EVER work on stage?#24
Posted: 12/23/05 at 8:17pm
They mounted a tour of this way back in the late 70's with Jon Cryer as Mack, Lucie Arnaz as Mabel and Tommy Tune in the Lisa Kirk role. It was spectacular. The costumes were great, they gave Tommy Tune a "Leading Player" from Pippin edge and as William Desmond Taylor is shot, Tune comes into view atop a riser leading the whole chorus in "Tap your troubles away", And the ending was "Tweaked" so that Mack states the fact that Mabel dies, But has a WHAT IF moment and it ends with he & Mabel getting married as the overature plays again and with keystone cops in tow, it is all done without words a la the silent movie. I saw that production four times and it was bliss! This show can work, and very well, with good stars and very minor tweaking.
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