Manchester continues to bring some of the biggest musicals to the city this year with the latest being Mack and Mabel playing at the Opera House until the 24th October and you don’t want to miss this one!

Chichester Festival Theatre has long been famed for producing spectacular revivals of well loved musicals with Barnum, Sweeney Todd and Gypsy being the most recent, and yet again they have delivered with Mack and Mabel which oozes class and is just what musical theatre is all about.

Michael Ball takes on the role of obsessive film maker Mack Sennett and once again proves why he is the first man of British musical theatre. Always short of a buck or two a chance meeting with Mabel Normand played by Rebecca LaChance leads Mack to find a new star for his movies. Normand not only steals the silver screen but also Mack’s heart.

Ball’s portrayal of Mack, a film director who knows just what he wants and introduced the world to the Keystone Cops as well as inventing the custard pie in the face routine, is faultless from the moment he takes to the stage in his dimly lit film studio. His relationship with Mabel is a joy to watch unfold as she proves more than a match for the demanding director.

LaChance is a sassy, sexy Mabel and eventually leaves Mack for another director who leads her astray and into a life of drugs and alcohol. After he is found murdered she returns to Mack to make one last movie before the evils of addiction take their final inevitable toll. LaChance who has starred on Broadway shines during these second half scenes as her life spirals into addiction.

A company of 22 support the two main characters throughout and don’t put a foot wrong with Stephen Mears’s choreography proving spectacular especially during the act 2 tap number which brought a roar from the press night audience at its conclusion.

The set from Robert Jones is simple yet effective and is brought to life with lighting from Howard Harrison and ingenious video projections from John Driscoll. Look out for the train sequence in act 1 and boat scene in act 2, both are jaw droppingly spectacular despite their simplicity.

A musical isn’t a musical without music and under the directorship of Robert Scott the 15 piece orchestra sound sublime as they play from high above the stage.

Mack and Mabel has it all. There are not many productions I have seen that have a Keystone Cops chase, a sensational tap routine led by Anna-Jane Casey and even a custard pie fight live on stage. Mack and Mabel will have you mesmerised from the opening note of the overture until the final bow. The show is only in Manchester for two weeks, can you afford to miss it?

Reviewer: Paul Downham

Reviewed: 13th October 2015