Mack and Mabel at the Criterion Theatre in London

Mack and Mabel

Musical with music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, and book by Michael Stewart, with 2006 revisions by Francine Pascal.

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 the heart-wrenching love story of two of its greatest legends; director Mack Sennett 'The King of Comedy' and his star, comedienne Mabel Normand. This dramatic love story interwoven with Herman's wonderful score including Tap Your Troubles, Time Heals Everything and I Won't Send Roses.

West End Concert Production 1988 at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane

Original London West End Production 1995 at the Piccadilly Theatre

1st West End Revival 2006 at the Criterion Theatre

Jerry Herman's West End credits include La Cage aux Folles, Hello Dolly!, Mame, and the musical compilation The Best of Times: The Showtunes of Jerry Herman.

West End Concert Production 1988

Sunday 21 February 1988 at Theatre Royal Drury Lane

The cast featured narration by Jerry Herman, Denis Quilly / George Hearn / Stubby Kaye / Robert Meadmore as 'Mack', and Debbie Shapiro / Paige O'Hara / Frances Ruffelle / Georgia Brown as 'Mabel', with Tommy Tune performing 'Tap All Your Troubles Away' (the 'Lottie' role).

Directed by David Toguri, with choreography by Christine Cartwright and Lindsay Dolan, and designs by Tim Goodchild.

Presented in aid of the Royal Marsden Hospital, and recorded for Record/CD release.

Original London West End Production 1995

Previewed 24 October 1995, Opened 7 November 1995, Closed 29 June 1996 at the Piccadilly Theatre

The original cast featured Howard McGillin as 'Mack Sennett' (up to Saturday 24 February 1996), James Smillie as 'Mack Sennett' (from Monday 26 February 1996), Caroline O'Connor as 'Mabel Normand', and Kathryn Evans as 'Lottie', with Beata Alfoldi as 'Iris', Jonathan D Ellis as 'Frank', Matthew Finch as 'Freddie', Philip Herbert as 'Fatty', Graham Hubbard as 'Kleinman', John McPherson as 'Andy', Alan Mosley as 'Fox', Julia Parrott as 'Ella', Ray Scott-Johnson as 'William Desmond Taylor', Andrew Wright as 'Harry', Philip Aiden, Jacqui Boatswain, Graeme Conway, Sarah Graham, James Gray, Lisa Green, Susan Hallam-Wright, Julie Hone, Pip Jordan, Mark McGee, Sasha Millard, Suzanne Thomas, John Tobias, Ruth Caroline Warrior, Nikki Worrell, Leon De Ste Croix, Judy Leigh Hulme, and Kathy Norcross.

Directed by Paul Kerryson, with choreography by Michael Smuin, designs by Martin Jones, lighting by Chris Ellis, and sound by Rick Clarke.

1st West End Revival 2006

Previewed 5 April 2006, Opened 10 April 2006, Closed 1 July 2006 at the Criterion Theatre

A major revival of Jerry Herman's 'Hollywood Musical' Mack and Mabel in London starring David Soul and Janie Dee

After seeing the Opening Night performance at London's Criterion Theatre, the show's composer/ lyricist, Jerry Herman said: "Tonight I saw the definitive Mack and Mabel."

The cast for Mack and Mabel in London features David Soul as 'Mack Sennet', Janie Dee as 'Mabel Normand', and Sarah Whittuck as 'Lottie', with Richard Brightiff as 'William Desmond Taylor', Tomm Coles as 'Frank', Robert Cousins as 'Eddy', Michelle Long as 'Gertie', Robon Pirongs as 'Mr Kessel', Jon Trenchard as 'Mr Bauman', Simon Tuck as 'Andy', Sarah Whittuck as 'Lottie', and Matthew Woodyatt as 'Fatty'.

Directed by John Doyle, with designs by Mark Bailey, lighting by Richard G Jones, sound by Gary Dixon, and musical arrangements by Sarah Travis.

This production transferred to London's West End following a season at the Watermill Theatre and short regional tour.

John Doyle's recent West End directing credits include Stephen Sondheim's musical Sweeney Todd (Trafalgar Studios and Ambassadors Theatre 2004/2005).

Janie Dee's London theatre credits include My One and Only at the Piccadilly Theatre in 2002, and Sophisticated Ladies at the Globe Theatre in 1992.

"If ever a show deserved to move from small beginnings to the big time, this is it. Jerry Herman's 1974 musical about Mack Sennett and his star actresses and lover, Mabel Normand, started life at Newbury's tiny Watermill Theatre... David Soul repeats his Mack... Janie Dee has taken over as Mabel and moved effortlessly from perky waif in a white bonnet to steely star with soft, killer eyes... For warmth and buzz and cracking high spirits, I can't think of a better show." The Sunday Times

"Small-scale musicals are the latest big idea. Chicago was streamlined and Sweeney Todd and Sunday In The Park With George were successfully scaled down from ten-gallon to pint-size. Now Jerry Herman's 1974 show about silent movie mogul Mack Sennett's stormy affair with actress Mabel Normand has been chopped off at the knees... Simple staging and getting the actors to provide their own musical accompaniment hasn't solved the problem, even though the casting of David Soul and Janie Dee gives star quality to mini-musicals master John Doyle's version... Although David Soul may be a little too cuddly for the ruthless, one track-minded Sennett - movies, not sex, dominated his life - sings well, as befits a former hitmaker. Janie Dee is captivating as the tragic drink and drugs-fuelled Normand, who ended up dead at 35. Trouble is this is downbeat. Great performances and songs, shame about the story." The Sun

Jerry Herman, the writer of Mack and Mabel on his experience of seeing this production for the first time at the Watermill Theatre: "It was an eye-opening experience. There was my big musical on a tiny wooden stage but it reached into the heart of Mack and Mabel and made that love story really riveting. You saw its tragic end better than we had ever seen before, and, of course, that's what appealed to me about the story to begin with: It's on impossible love affair but a genuine one, and even though the man - Mack Sennett, creator of the Keystone Cops - couldn't say I love you and even though he practically drove the girl to drugs and booze and ruin, he then does something gigantic in actually having his studio make a last film for her - to bolster her when she really needed it, which is a great affirmation. It's a way of saying 'I love you' without saying those words... I was thrilled and stunned by John's production and by Sarah Travis's arrangements - it's almost like I had gone to New Orleans in its heyday and heard that score played by musicians in a Mardi Gras. That's the best way of describing what happened to me when I heard my music arranged in this way. It was everything musically I could ask for and had thought I could never better; this brings out the best in the score."

The undisputed 'King of Comedy' in Hollywood's early years was Mack Sennett, co-founder in 1912 of the Keystone Company. Under his direction, the Keystone name became synonymous with the very best of silent slapstick as Sennett and his dedicated gang of performers created a fresh new screen style that drew laughs from audiences and critics alike. Keystone soon became the silent screen's foremost comedy mill with Sennett himself its self-appointed producer of laughs. From these studios came the custard pie, the Keystone Kops, the bathing beauties and literally hundreds of short two reelers. Mabel Normand was born in 1895 of an Irish mother and a French father. In 1908 she moved with her parents to New York where she found work as an artist and photographer's model. At the age of 16 Mabel went to work for Biograph Studios on East 14th Street. Her radiant screen presence and comic wit soon made her a box office favourite and it was not long before she was one of the Studio's most popular and valuable stars. It was while at Biograph that Mabel met and fell in love with the actor and director Mack Sennett. In 1912, when Mack set up Keystone Pictures, she joined him. Their tempestuous love affair was to last for many years.

Mack and Mabel in London at the Criterion Theatre previewed from 5 April 2006, opened on 10 April 2006, and closed on 1 July 2006.