Saturday, 25 August 2012

Mack & Mabel


The association that the Mistress and I have with both on and off West End theatre has been know by most members of the Company for some time, however it was driven home a few months ago when the London Evening Standard proclaimed "Music from Mack and Mabel brought me back from the dead". This was the story of how I emerged from a coma in March - it even had a mention of the Marketors in it. It was a useful boost to ticket sales as the show had then just opened at the Southwark Playhouse. Numerous enquiries about the show led us to set up a visit for Marketors and their friend. While a Masters event, and not a part of the formal Marketors programme, we did have the assistance of the Junior Warden, Michael Harrison, who elected to manage the event - for which much thanks Junior.

The evening started by the Thames between London and Tower Bridge at Cotes Restaurant in the Hays Galleria, an elegant arcade housing a very quirky steel "galleon". Excellent cuisine and delightful company was topped off with an introduction to the evening, and to the world of Off West End theatre, from the producer of tonight's show, Danielle Tarento. And so the party processed to the Playhouse which was a few minutes away down an ally by a pub and then into the vaults underneath platform 1 of London Bridge Station. Comprising of a 150 seat Studio Theatre and The Vault, a secondary performance space, and a bar area, we were in The Vault. Unusually seats were reserved for us (it is usually a scramble), and being in row  3 and 4 this meant we were in the back of the space.

And so to the show. It soon became evident to all why this production had achieved seven 5 star ratings and nine 4 star rating from the likes of the The Times, The Independent, Evening Standard, Time Out and The Stage. While a musical  based in the 1920's at a time when movies were silent and cinema was magic this was no "Singing in the rain". It was a gritty and emotion show which tells the story of Mack Sennett, the creator of the Keystone Cops, and Mabel Normand, a waitress he turns into a star. It had a powerful story line, amazing music and exceptional numbers together with moments that had many of the audience reaching for their hankies. At the end of an excellent show we had the opportunity to meet with the amazingly talented cast.

For many of the party this was their first experience of an Off West End production. While tomorrow is the last night of the show, there are over 60 such "theatres" around London, all with professional productions showing. They are a very mixed bag in terms of venues and productions, but why not get along to one of them - after all, this is where theatre magic begins.

John Flynn
Master Marketor

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