Les Del Nevo
Scenery built by
& Jonathan Hall
Ann Smith/Anne Paskins
Conductor / Piano
Tenor Sax 2
Two reeler tale is a five star stunner
It is no exaggeration to declare Neil Mathieson’s production a certified five-star stunner.
This deftly directed production led its audience through the whirlwind world of showbiz from the 1900s to the roaring ’20s with plenty of panache.
Beautifully interjected animations and projections took this production to a whole new level and, combined with a larger than life cast with brilliant timing (hats off to choreographer Georgina Smith) and bags of energy, could not fail to impress.
Frank Ewins cut a rakish Mack Sennett, the two-reel comic film producer who discovers the delightfully engaging Mabel Normand, played by Louise King.
Strong performers both with singing talent worthy of the professional stage; Louise King soared through several numbers that would have turned Judy Garland green.
Lorraine Rowan was also a joy to watch as the sassy, no-nonsense Lottie.
The cast were donned in costumes worthy of a wardrobe mistress who has missed many a night’s sleep with her frantic needle, and the live band led its performers with pace.
An all-round riotous romp of an evening.
The Daily Echo
Scene One review
'SEE that fascinating creature with perfection stamped on every feature…’ – well, okay, maybe ‘creature’ isn’t quite right but I can’t think of a better phrase to describe this mega watt brilliant production.
Where shall I start? Well, maybe with the 1930s cars that on opening night brought Mack, Mabel and the Keystone Kops to the front of the Regent Centre before the show started – a lovely touch that really set the scene. And then there was the joy of walking into the auditorium to be faced with a grainy film imploring us to remove our hats, another inspired idea. In fact, much use is made of film during this production, and it is all absolutely superb, as are the excellent set and super costumes, so Oscars all round to those responsible.
Jerry Herman’s Mack and Mabel is based on the real-life story of silent-movie director Mack Sennett and actress Mabel Normand. To make it work it needs a real chemistry between its two leading performers, which this production most certainly has in Frank Ewins and Louise King, and I believed implicitly in them both. Frank acts wonderfully and is every inch the hard director who puts his career before his personal life, and I could have listened all night to him singing I Won’t Send Roses. Louise is an absolute star, and should be as much the toast of the town as her character. She lights up the stage the moment she appears, also acts wonderfully and sings like an angel – Time Heals Everything brought tears to my eyes with the depth of emotion she gave to it.
There are good characterisations too in supporting roles, not least from Stephen Hutt as Frank and Lorraine Rowan as Lottie, while chorus work is also excellent.
My final Oscars must go to Georgina Smith for her excellent choreography; to musical director Ian Carter; to the band, who made a great sound apart from a few rogue notes from somewhere in the brass section, and most of all to the incredibly talented Neil Mathieson, who once again has directed - in fine style - a show that proves Highcliffe Charity Players tick all the right boxes when it comes to putting on a quality production.