Wednesday evening saw the opening night performance of STUDIO32’s summer production “Mack and Mabel”, and what a performance this talented company produced. From the moment the curtain went up the audience was treated to a spectacular show. The first scene opened in the studios of silent movie director Mack Sennett in 1938 and moved from there to flashbacks throughout his movie career starting in 1911.
Bill Nicholson, playing the leading role of Mack Sennett, commanded the stage from beginning to end with a powerful portrayal of this complex self-obsessed character. Starring alongside him as Mabel Normand was Bev McEwan, who captured all of the different sides of her character as she developed from an unknown innocent who walks on to a film set through to the international film star of later years that she became.
The chemistry between these two actors was a delight to behold, with the many comic and tragic aspects of their relationship portrayed with equal skill.
During the opening scene we were introduced to other characters on the film set, notably Lottie played by one of STUDIO32’s young stars Alice Wakeford. This is a difficult character for a young actress to play, being the role of the experienced and somewhat over-the-hill starlet, but Alice clearly revelled in the part and put in a magnificent performance.
The tap routine “Tap Your Troubles Away” was perhaps a highlight of the show, with Alice accompanied on stage by thirteen other tap dancers in a complex routine that wowed the audience.
As the show progressed we were treated to some fine solo singing from both Bill Nicholson and Bev McEwan, with a beautiful love ballad “I Won’t Send Roses” and a feisty upbeat number “Wherever He Ain’t” being highlights. Company numbers were very well staged with fine singing and dancing throughout the show. The levels of energy from the performers was very apparent, and it was a delight to see the whole cast working so well together.
Excellent supporting roles were played by Don Wilkinson (Mr Baumann), Keith Longshaw (Mr Kessel), Jenni Hardy-Rooney (Andi), and Nick Morgan (Frank Wyman), with the comic genius Fatty Arbuckle being played with great charm by Mervyn Williams. Luke Ringrose portrayed the charismatic and somewhat seedy character William Desmond Taylor, Mack Sennett’s rival, with a charming mix of sophistication and sleaze. And throughout the show the audience were entertained by the “music department” on the film set, the wonderful character of Ella the pianist, played with gusto by Dianne Oliver.
Add to all of this some great technical effects, including real silent movies being projected alongside the stage synchronised to the songs, and you have a recipe for success. Director/choreographer Susan Zillah Wilson has delivered another STUDIO32 hit, setting very high professional standards and delivering a thoroughly entertaining show.
Chairman Philip Wilson commented: “It’s wonderful to be able to deliver this level of entertainment to audiences whilst raising much needed money for local charities. This show has raised over 3,500 euros and I’m very proud of everyone who has worked so hard to achieve what we have with this production.”
We look forward to seeing the company’s winter production of Irving Berlin’s classic “White Christmas”. For information on STUDIO32 and their shows visit their website www.studiothirtytwo.org, or attend their Open Day on Wednesday June 7th at 4pm, at Casa Ventura, San Luis, Torrevieja.