Durham Musical Theatre Company Presents Mack & Mabel


Mack and Mabel Versions

Version 1

This is the original New York script written by Michael Stewart for the production which opened in 1974. The show opens in 1938 and then goes back to 1911 to tell the story of Mack and Mabel, ending as it started in 1938. Mabel Normand died in 1930 and, therefore, this version included her death. Jerry Herman relates in his autobiography that when Mack said “Then on February 23rd 1930 Mabel Normand died” he heard the audience gasp and he knew the show was not working.

He begged Michael Stewart and Gower Champion, the director, to change the ending, but they refused. Herman saw the show as a romantic love story – here was a man who truly loved a woman but was never able to tell her so because he was introspective and too obsessed with making silent movies. There are many historical inaccuracies in this script. Fatty Arbuckle does not appear and Sennett’s backers are incorrectly named as Fox and Kleiman.

Version 2

This is the version of the Leicester Haymarket and London production of 1995, with some alterations by Francine Pascal (Michael Stewart’s sister). The show in this version starts in 1932 and includes a new duet “Also Called Mack and Mabel” which Herman feels cements their relationship more clearly for the audience. It also restores the number “Hit ‘em on the Head” which had been replaced in the original production with “Every Time a Cop Falls Down”. This version has a happy ending and is a little strange in that having sung “I Won’t Send Roses” to Mabel at the start of the show, Mack ends by presenting her with roses! It does not go back to 1932, for when this version ends, Mabel is still alive. This is the version which was released for amateurs in 2000.

Version 3

This was written in 2002 with more extensive revisions by Francine Pascal, and is now the approved version of the show. It has been performed in the USA and most recently at the Shaw Festival in Canada in 2007, but it has not been performed in Britain or Europe.

This is the version that DMTC will be presenting in its UK premiere. The show starts and ends in 1929, before Mabel’s death. At the end Mack still cannot say “I love you”, but he does agree to put all his remaining money into making a movie for Mabel. Herman says “It is an enormous gesture of love for a man who sings “I Won’t Send Roses”, to let Mabel know that he would never be able to tell her he loved her.”

This script contains additional scenes, such as the episode with Mae Busch, and it is also historically more accurate, especially with the dates of events. Mack’s backers, the two ex-bookies, are now given their proper names: Adam Kessel and Charles Bauman. Fatty Arbuckle also plays a larger role in this version.

Version 4

This was specially prepared for a production by John Doyle which appeared in London in 2005. The show was adapted for a cast of only 11 players with no chorus, the big production numbers being played by a few principals. It has two endings. The historical ending of the death of Mabel is immediately followed by Mack’s imaginary happy ending, as it would have been had he been making a movie.

Mack & Mabel
Gala Theatre, Durham City:
29th January - 2nd February 2008

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