London Musical Theatre Orchestra (LMTO) Mack And Mabel Review

LMTO M&M SquareishLondon Musical Theatre Orchestra (LMTO) gave a splendid performance of Mack and Mabel in Concert on Saturday 23rd September.

Mack and Mabel is based on the true story of “the king of comedy” filmmaker Mack Senett and rising star Mabel Normand. The story starts in 1938 with a bankrupt and alone Mack, who then reminisces about his glory days, the golden age of Hollywood in the 1910s and 20s, and his tumultuous affair with Mabel. When financial pressures, success, obsession, passion, and substance misuse collide, will love prevail?

This musical is based on the idea by Leonard Spigelglass, the book by Michael Stewart with music and lyrics by Jerry Hermnan (Hello Dolly!, Mame, La Cage Aux Folles).  Mack and Mabel first appeared on Broadway in 1974. Some of the well-known songs are: I Won’t Send Roses, Time Heals Everything and the swinging big band tune Tap Your Troubles Away. Readers may be more familiar with the Overture which was used by Torvill and Dean in their gold-medal winning routine in 1984

Conducted by Freddie Taper, the 30-odd piece orchestra definitely provided the audience with a joyous and catchy romp through the love, success and loses of the characters. The fun and energetic numbers such as Big Time and Hit ‘Em on the Head were delightful. The LMTO was able to show case its talents also with slower-paced, mournful ballads such as  Time Heals Everything, I Won’t Send Roses and I Promise You a Happy Ending.

Natasha J Barnes gave an impressive and comic performance as bubbly, vivacious Mabel that had the audience giving a standing ovation. David Bedella gave an excellent performance as bossy, obsessed with making movies Mack. Tiffany Graves, Will Arundell, Jack Edwards, Matthew Harvey, Liam Tamne, Oliver Savile complete the ensemble with strong performances.

LMTO dances and LMTO chorus provided additional depth to the production. During the upbeat, rousing number Tap Your Troubles Away, there was a fun tapping dance routine performed. Audiences were surprised and delighted when students from Bird College appeared throughout the theatre singing and dancing to the energetic, climatic number Hundreds of Girls. This production was directed by Shaun Kerrison and choreographed by Anthony Whiteman.

Mack and Mabel marks the debut East London outing of the LMTO. The LMTO was founded by its conductor Freddie Tapner in 2015. Musicians meet to play musical theatre scores with the aim of creating specialist musical theatre players. This charitable organisation is passionate about the continued development of up-and-coming players and reserve at least a quarter of the seats in the orchestra for those whom this is one of their first professional performances, and in this way these players are able to gain experience and connections with more experienced players.

The LMTO is next performing A Christmas Carol on 11 and 18 December at the Lyceam Theatre, and their 2018 schedule will be released later this year. After thoroughly enjoying two LMTO concerts (check out our review of Candide in Concert),  I am eagerly awaiting future performances. Hope to see you there!

Written by Caitlin Neal.

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