Welcome to a new Musical Theatre Monday! This month, I’ve been reflecting on where I was a year ago at this time — listening to a recent bootleg of the February 2020 Encores! production of Mack & Mabel, a typically melodic Jerry Herman score with some standout numbers, based on the romance between legendary silent film duo Mack Sennett and Mabel Normand. Considered old-fashioned and dramatically limp at the time of its 1974 premiere, this show has always struck me as an example of a great premise and great songs never congealing via its book (by Michael Stewart) into anything concrete or complementary.
But the original production featured Robert Preston and Bernadette Peters, two dazzling material-elevating stars well worth the price of admission, and while their work is documented forever on the fun cast album, for subscribers who comment below to alert me of their interest, I’ll send access to two rare audios that can give you an even better understanding of their performances. One is from the November 30, 1974 closing night performance, and the other is from the L.A. tryout that summer. Here’s an excerpt of the latter — “I Won’t Send Roses.”
And, heck, I’ll throw in two additional audios — both starring Douglas Sills. The first is from L.A. Reprise!’s 2000 production, with Jane Krakowski, and the other is the aforementioned 2020 Encores! boot (untracked) with Alexandra Socha. Here’s a bit from the former.
Come back next month for another musical theatre rarity! And stay tuned tomorrow for a sitcom rerun!