Saturday, 30 November 2013

Review: 'Mack and Mabel'

by Hattie Gould and Annie Materna

Mack and Mabel

The must-not-miss event for all PGS pupils, parents and staff, this week, was 'Mack and Mabel': the musical of silent movies, heartbreak, romance and a sandwich girl's rise to fame.

This particular musical was largely unknown to the current generation of PGS pupils, leaving us entering the theatre a little apprehensive, not knowing much about the characters or their fate. However, not long after the play began, all was revealed: with  Mack, played by Ben Schofield, a selfish film director purely focused on making movies and Mabel, played by Molly Cranston, an enchanting (and clumsy) natural star.

Fatty Arbuckle and Bathing Beauties
The opening scene started with a bang as the cast exorcised their dressing room nerves as they were introduced to the stage, with Mack counting their directions for his latest movie. For Mack, all was running smoothly, with the Keystone cops falling over themselves and his leading lady tied to a rail track waiting to be rescued by her hero. However, all changed during one lunch break, when a young sandwich girl sparked chaos in the Mack Sennett studios: it was Mabel, whose innocent and girlish charm filled the stage with her beaming smile and passion for life, knowing little that her life was about to explode as Mack Sennett set out to make her a star.

Molly Cranston and Ben Schofield's singing and acting performances were both exciting and electric on stage. Molly was the perfect fit for Mabel,  portraying her character wonderfully with her voice full of energy and emotion. Ben Schofield has a natural presence on stage and narrated the story with seeming effortlessness but considerable professionalism.
Ben and Molly creatined a perfect match as they brought out the best in each other throughout their performance and kept the audience intrigued by their intertwining love affair. All participants in the performance were vibrant and brought a great atmosphere to the theatre especially the Keystone cops, the bathing beauties and the tap dancers Not only was Pippa Harris' tap dancing excellent but she gave a wonderful performance as Lottie. There were great performances from Rory Greenwood as comedian Fatty Arbuckle, Peter Rapp as the idealistic screenwriter Frank, Cameron Roberts and Lewis Mackenzie as the harrassed producers Kessel and Bauman, Harry Norton as smooth director William Desmond Taylor, Sam Betteridge as Andy, Phoebe Carter as Ella and Graihagh Guille as Freddi.

Keystone cops

Personally, our favourite part of the show was the 'Look What Happened to Mabel' scene - the first whole-cast number of the musical. As the song began, the audience could hear and feel the tension mounting on the stage; however, within a matter of minutes, after the introduction of the horse (showing Mabel starring in comedy Westerns), you could see the transformation of pupil to actor and the cast were in full swing, relaxing the audience and setting an outstanding level of performance that was met by the cast throughout the rest of the show. Additionally, the throwing of cream pies must have been thoroughly enjoyed by all staff who taught the pupils involved.

Furthermore, we were completely blown away by the professionalism of the acting, singing, dancing and technology involved. Never before have we seen a musical so technologically advanced at our school: not only the lighting and the fast-moving set (taking us from New York to Hollywood, from locomotives to cruise liners), but the use of projected video to convey the silent, black and white movies that Mack, Mabel and the others were creating. The filmed scenes were brilliant, cleverly capturing the style and movement of the original silent movies on which they were based. 
Lottie and the tap dancers

The combination of acting and film went together flawlessly, carried along by a vibrant musical performance by the orchestra led by Mr Gladstone. An amazing performance by the cast and great direction from Mr McCrohan! Thank you and congratulations to all in the cast. and the production crew. This was a wonderful experience for the audience and a proud  moment for anyone associated with PGS. Well done!!


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