In support of MACK & MABEL and the All Roads Theatre Company
Posted by: reed23 08:10 am EST 02/24/24
In reply to: re: Dermot Mulroney's training (re: the reports in this thread have been kind... even generous...) - Chazwaza 06:15 pm EST 02/23/24

My goodness; you're the only one I've spoken to or read who was so repulsed and angered by Mulroney's performance that the "entire production was an offensive waste or resources for the theatre company and the audience." I'm not invalidating your reaction by force of numbers; but I question the degree of your now oft-repeated fury and castigation, and the tossing of the baby, whatever bathwater you may rightly be inclined to throw.

Jenna Lea Rosen has been acclaimed as by far the best thing about the production, and revelatory in a problem role (I know you disagree). Caroline O'Connor is one of my favorite performers in the history of the world, and she did not disappoint – having moved from her terrific Mabel of 20 years ago to the role of Lottie, on at least 2 of the performances the audience flew to their feet and applauded the terrific "Tap Your Troubles Away" for minutes and minutes. She was witty, wry, and warm all night and I would have forgiven a whole lot just for her, even I had been so infuriated as you were.

The second performance was indeed Mulroney's worst, and part of the reason was that he took an exceptionally hard whack in the face from the pie in mid-Act-One, which shorted out his mic, forced him offstage for re-wiring and clean-up and threw him off his game. His best performance was that evening, high-paced, no dropped lines, none of the previous tentative qualities. I don't know that you would been any less outraged, but – maybe.

The prices charged had nothing to do with the cast (despite international travel, screen status of two of the leads, etc.); everyone worked for scale in support of the company. I'm not sure if this was clear to the average audience member of the street, but it was publicized as a benefit inaugural production for the future of the new company. Opening night tickets were twice as much, for the benefit, and included a Gala Opening Night Party, a silent auction, and all the usual trappings of a new company establishing itself (it was sold out and then some.) The fact that every ticket was sold was testament to the community support for the show and endeavor in general. I saw more great stuff on that stage than I've seen in a helluva long time in LA, including the 18-piece orchestra and the quality of the talent, including a large number of popular and perennial LA performers. I suspect part of the problem is that you liked almost nothing about it to begin with – you didn't like the choreography (which stopped the show at least 3 times), you didn't like what I thought were the stunning graphic effects or the silent movies, you were "meh" about Rosen, "meh" about just about everything. Again, I don't invalidate your opinions; I've spoken to others who shared one or two of them, but to none who shared all of them with the vehemence and outrage you've eloquently expressed.

I also come at it with some experience in seeing theatres take chances on "names" and losing the gamble. I recall seeing MAME at a long-running Equity regional theatre, which usually turns out terrific stuff, but the very well-known TV and movie actress in the title role just couldn't cut it, forgetting lines and lyrics (including half of "If He Walked Into My Life.") I react differently to this kind of thing; I feel bad for the performer in that situation – I was moved to see the little kid playing Young Patrick improvise lines and interpolate her forgotten ones to keep the scenes going. I wasn't outraged and furious at the ticket price and didn't go all "how DARE they" – they took a gamble, it didn't pay off as they would have hoped, and I've seen it happen a number of times – even on Broadway; and while sad for the performer and disappointed, it didn’t stop me from loving Onna White’s work recreated and the rest of the formidable cast.

I might be coming from a different place because I saw the original MACK & MABEL and have been haunted by this show that can't catch a break ever since. The revisions to the script by the original librettist's sister have not significantly solved its inherent failures. I've seen the show in stock, regional, park-and-bark concert reading, heard all the albums, and saw the Encores rendition, which I found to be a third as effective, impressive and exciting as this latest large-scale mounting. None of the above-listed productions I saw generated half of the audience excitement and roars of approval and mid-show standing ovations that I saw at the El Portal last weekend.

LA theatre is in a bad way. It already was, most particularly with regard to musical theatre, even before Covid, and before the shocking and self-inflicted closing of the Mark Taper. There are flickers of life, to be sure (I heard good things about the imminent 42ND STREET an LA company is doing) – Musical Theatre Guild does extremely low-budget staged readings in which the performers pay to perform. I thought the Geffen's rendition of THE INHERITANCE was outstanding; a few cast members weaker than Broadway, but a few definitely stronger, and the audience was pulverized, as they were when I saw it on Broadway. A new theatre company aiming high with a fair number of Equity contracts, large number of musician/tech/ensemble/front-of-house positions, doing interesting musicals and plays, with a new-works program and a training/education wing, has my full support.
Link The All Roads Theatre Company

Previous: re: Dermot Mulroney's training (re: the reports in this thread have been kind... even generous...) - Chazwaza 06:15 pm EST 02/23/24
Next: yes, completely in support of the All Roads Theatre Company ... long may they grow and produce! - Chazwaza 06:54 pm EST 02/26/24

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