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Shaw Festival 2007


 Casting Announced for Canadian Revival of Mack and Mabel


by Kenneth Jones

March 1 2007

Rehearsals for the Shaw Festival's new production of Jerry Herman and Michael Stewart's Mack and Mabel began Feb. 22 toward the first performance in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, April 3.

Molly Smith, the respected artistic director of Arena Stage in Washington, DC, directs a Canadian cast featuring Benedict Campbell as the legendary Mack Sennett, and Glynis Ranney as film legend Mabel Normand, with Kawa Ada, Neil Barclay, Catherine Braund, Benedict Campbell, Lisa Karen Cox, Jeff Irving, Patty Jamieson, Melanie Janzen, Jane Johanson, Gabrielle Jones, Chilina Kennedy, Jeff Madden, Peter Millard, Mike Nadajewski, Melanie Phillipson, Micheal Querin, Glynis Ranney, Kiera Sangster, Devon Tullock, Jay Turvey, Mark Uhre and William Vickers.


Opening on the Festival Stage (the flagship house of the respected festival)  will be May 12. Performances continue in rep to Oct. 29. A Chorus Line's Baayork Lee choreographs. Smith and company are using a script revised by the late Stewart's sister, Francine Pascal. This version has been seen regionally and in London.


"Out of the silent movie era and the heady heights of 1920s Hollywood, Mack and Mabel chronicles a heart-wrenching love story in a series of flashbacks," according to festival notes. "Mack reminisces about his career from the sound stage of the studios he once dominated, beginning with the glory days of the Keystone Studios in 1910 when he first discovered Mabel, to his invention of the Keystone Cops – an iconic image often affiliated with silent-film comedy. Their tempestuous relationship continued throughout the years as each suffered both personal and professional highs and lows."

Composer-lyricist Jerry Herman's score boasts "I Won't Send Roses," "Look What Happened to Mabel" and "Tap Your Troubles Away." A Broadway flop, the show nevertheless has a score cherished by fans (an original cast album spread the gospel of the songs, as did a 1990s London disc). A major commercial revival in the U.S. has yet to transpire, despite a high-profile Los Angeles concert staging and a revival by Goodspeed Musicals.

The Mack and Mabel creative team includes designer William Schmuck, musical director Paul Sportelli, lighting designer Jock Munro and sound designer John Lott.

For more information, visit www.shawfest.com.