MACK AND MABEL Full Production in Los Angeles
Posted by: bicoastal 09:42 pm EST 02/18/24

An ambitious, full production of MACK AND MABEL ran this weekend in L.A. for four performances; it's the launch of All Roads Theatre Comopany, a new non-profit equity group. Dermot Mulroney played Mack (yes he can sing...sort of), Jenna Lee Rosen played Mabel and Caroline O'Connor played Lottie, accompanied by a full orchestra conducted by founding partner Fred Barton. It was a treat to hear that score performed live and the cast certainly gave it their all. Mulroney doesn't have very impressive vocal chops, though he worked hard at selling his numbers while also at times seeming unsure of how to hold the stage. But he was long on charm and I ultimately liked his performance (also I hope he never does another musical without putting in some serious vocal rehearsals). Rosen delivered the required spunk for Mabel and brought a lot of energy to the role, though I personally think she was occasionally undone by some of the staging and choreoraphy. Her voice is solid and she delivered the songs very well (but her "Wherever He Ain't" was a bit too over the top angry for me). O'Connor pretty much took the evening away from them with her impressive belting and powerhouse tap dancing in her big "Tap Your Troubles Away" number. (I am just now learning about her and there are a lot of very impressive clips of her work on YouTube). The audience was all in for the show and the numbers and the actors all got a great deal of love. The choreography, by director Scott Thompson, was the weakest link for me. At times it was great (the tapping) and at other times it felt like I was watching a really energetic college staging who didn't understand the assignment.

I haven't seen the show in years (I saw the original and the Reprise revival in L.A.) but I was really struck by how the book played fast and loose with Mack and Mabel's story (forgivable) and the historical timeline (not forgivable). So while the evening was a mixed bag, I was very happy to have seen it. I think it had four sold out performances, or very nearly that. Wondering if anyone else in L.A. saw it?

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