Friday, November 14

Michael Ball confirmed to star in Mack and Mabel at Chichester and then tour

Updated 2nd February: At interviews he has been giving to promote his new concert tour If Everyone Was Listening  and album of he same name which is due for release on 17th November (my review here) Michael Ball has said he will be returning to  musical theatre this year with rehearsals starting  just days after his tour ends on 3rd May.

It has now been confirmed that he is starring in the musical Mack and Mabel  written by Jerry Herman and Michael Stewart which will run   at the Chichester Festival Theatre from July 13th to September 5th,(press night held on July 21st). The show will then go on a national tour from October 1st to December 6th, visiting venues including Plymouth Theatre Royal, Manchester Opera House and Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff.  Booking opens for the Chichester production at the end of February.

 The plot involves the tumultuous romantic relationship  between  between  Keystone Cops director Mack Sennett and actress Mabel Normand, one of Sennett’s Bathing Beauties.They had a rocky relationship. He drank and she (who had demons of her own) endured his beatings.It has a wonderful score including numbers I Won't Send Roses, Wherever He Ain't and Tap Your Troubles Away.

Director Jonathan Church and choreographer Stephen Mear are looking for the right actress to play Mabel.  Stewart’s ‘book’ has always been flawed and  problematic and apparently Church and Ball have insisted it be revised. Robert Jones will design he production.

The show was first produced in the UK  in 1981 at the Nottingham Playhouse starring Denis Quilley as Mack and Imelda Staunton as Mabel but despite a successful run it failed to transfer to the West End. Soon afterwards ice dancers Torvill and Dean used the  Mack & Mabel overture for one of their routines and  won the gold medal in the 1982 World Figure Skating Championships. In February 1988 a one-off charity concert featuring George Hearn, Georgia Brown, Denis Quilley and Tommy Tune was staged at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London. It was also revived at  Leicester Haymarket in 1995 and at the Piccadilly  with Caroline O'Connor as Mabel (also recorded). Recently at Southwark Playhouse with Laura Pitt-Pulford as Mabel

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