The production opened officially at Chichester Festival Theatre July 21 for a run through Sept. 5, scheduled to be followed by a U.K. and Ireland tour. Beyond that, the Post reported, "some commercial producers are moving Mack and Mabel to London’s West End later this year. If it works there, they’ll be looking to partner up with some New York producers for a Broadway revival next season."
The 1974 musical tells the story of silent film director Mack Sennett and his conflicted romance with his top female star, Mabel Normand. The original Broadway production ran only 66 performances despite having Robert Preston and Bernadette Peters in the title roles. Various productions over the years have attempted to solve what are perceived as fatal problems with the book.
The production has a rewritten book by Stewart's sister, Francine Pascal, best-selling author of the “Sweet Valley High” book series about teen twins in California. Pascal was quoted saying, “We could never get the love story right.... But, finally, I realized it is a doomed love affair. Sennett could never love Normand. He kept telling her that. But when he realizes that he can love her, it’s too late.... It’s a musical tragedy.”
Ball is a British musical comedy star who has been seen twice on Broadway, in Aspects of Love and The Woman in White. Also in featured roles are Anna-Jane Casey, Jack Edwards, Alex Giannini, Mark Inscoe and Timothy Quinlan.
The ensemble includes Ashley Andrews, Adam Denman, Nicole Deon, Michelle Francis, Emily Langham, Jenny Legg, Rebecca Louis, Joshua Lovell, Grace McKee, Joseph Prouse, Rohan Richards, Emily Shaw, Sam Stones, Andrew Waldron, Zara Warren and Libby Watts. The production is directed by Jonathan Church, artistic director of Chichester Festival Theatre, with designs by Robert Jones, choreography by Stephen Mear, musical direction by Robert Scott, lighting by Howard Harrison, sound by Paul Groothuis and video design by Jon Driscoll. Physical theatre and comedy is by Spymonkey who have appeared with Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas.
The musical has had two previous West End outings in 1995 and 2005 that transferred from Leicester and Newbury, respectively.