re: the reports in this thread have been kind... even generous...
Posted by: reed23 12:37 am EST 02/22/24
In reply to: the reports in this thread have been kind... even generous... - Chazwaza 07:59 pm EST 02/21/24

It's been interesting reading about the production and the many reactions, here and elsewhere online.

One might almost get the impression you didn't care for Dermot Mulroney's performance! (Just kidding.)

One or two minor points – 

1. Regarding Mulroney's name "not really selling tickets to a crowd who would come to a musical they've never heard of" – While one can never know why individual audience members bought their tickets, whether on Mulroney's name, O'Connor's name, or the show's name, or whatever, this production sold every ticket and then some (with a long waiting list for no-shows) – I think you might be underestimating the number of theatre fans who have heard of MACK & MABEL. There's something about this show (would you call it a "cult" musical? Something like that through the years) – that consistently brings 'em in, with a wide range of talents historically in the leads. I remember seeing more of a conventional unstaged concert-reading in Long Beach (2013) with Davis Gaines and Vicki Lewis, books in hand (I think John McDaniel conducted); and I heard about the 2000 LA Reprise production (their since-abandoned version of Encores), with Douglas Sills (twenty years before he played the role at Encores) and Jane Krakowski (Talkin' Broadway gave it a mixed-to-negative review.) The 2020 Encores also got a negative review from the NY Times.

I recall Clive Barnes' memorable line in his review of the original in 1974: "We have all seen a musical with book trouble before, but this one has book trouble so bad that it is practically library trouble." That remains the case, despite the various revisions since then.

Just for the record, in the Act One restaurant scene, Gower Champion staged "Wherever He Ain't" with Bernadette Peters dancing with four waiters (singled out by Barnes as his favorite of the dances.) That original dance had no fewer than 96 bars – i.e. quite an extended dance sequence – of which 32 bars were preserved on the original cast album.
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