Mack and Mabel
We are reprising our 2010 production of 'Allo 'Allo at the Petersfield Festival Hall from 9th to 11th June. This is the stage version of the hilarious BBC TV series of the same name, set in France during the second world war. Click here to find out more about the show and buy your tickets.
As Hilary Westbrook, John's widow, could not attend any of the Acorn Antiques performances due to prior commitments, she delegated the nomination of the John Westbrook Award for 2015 to Val Sykes. Val chose to award the trophy to Mandy Clowes, saying: 'When there are not so many people on stage, each member of the supporting cast is clearly visible and it is extra important to give it everything. Mandy was always fully involved om each scene she was in, acting and reacting to others very well. I loved the three backing "beehive" singers number and she was clearly really enjoying it,'
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Produced, Directed and Choreographed
Amanda Clowes, Kym
Chalker, Sophie Dulake,
Show photographs taken by Steve Day.
Silent movie scenes, leading man and orchestra excellent
Denmead Operatic Society, who usually perform in venues south of Butser Hill, last week brought their production to Petersfield.
It recounts, in flashback, the turbulent relationship of silent film producer, Mack Sennett, and waitress-turned-actress, Mabel Normand, during an early part of the last century.
Kerry Applin, who played the unfeeling and egotistical Mack, gave a powerful performance of what is a very demanding part. Whenever he was on stage, which was most of the time, he dominated proceedings with his vocal and physical presence. Perhaps a little more 'edge' in the role would have rounded off his character.
But Megan Brand as Mabel, although looking good and delivering her songs powerfully, did not demonstrate sufficiently the innocence and vulnerability of the character, particularly when Mabel descends into the depths of alcohol and drug addiction.
The supporting characters were well played, particularly Hannah Wilkinson as Lottie and Luke Brand as Fatty Arbuckle, who both gave strong, amusing and sustained interpretations.
The hard-working chorus was kept busy as they switched from stage hands to film extras, bathing belles and knock-about policemen while also performing their simple dance routines.
Attention to the authenticity of some of the costumes would have enhanced the visual effect.
The rudimentary set - mainly an open stage - allowed for smooth transitions between scenes (14 in all). These were mostly identified by a suitable small piece of scenery, coupled with good lighting effects.
The large orchestra, under the baton of Phil Woods, was first class and excelled particularly during the overture and the film sequences, when they provided musical backing. Occasionally, the balance with the singers made the lyrics difficult to hear - a problem that is not unknown in the Festival Hall.
Roger Wettone (Petersfield Post)
A most Enjoyable Evening
I was delighted to attend a recent performance of Mack and Mabel by Denmead Operatic Society at the Petersfield Festival Theatre. A big improvement from previous locations!
Congratulations must go to
Director, producer, performer etc Ian Clark for
his excellent direction and in particular the
silent movie film clips. It took me a while to
realise it was actually the cast who were in
them! I only wish that the screen had been
bigger or closer to the audience as this would
have helped enormously. The scene changes were
slick if not a bit noisy but this was due to the
casters on the stage more than anything else.
The clever lighting helps provide the necessary
The overture was a great start to the evening. The band rocked. And the room also shook! A great sound but far, far too loud when dialogue was being delivered. It's hard controlling an 18 piece orchestra but the show has to take precedence over the band. Ralf Pegden's sound was excellent, I don't think he missed a trick all night but he was at the limits for the vocal players and at times it was simply deafening.
I understand that it's hard for wind Instruments to be quiet when playing at the top of their ranges but perhaps with some more experience, conductor Phil Woods could have worked harder to keep the bank in check or alternatively reduced the number playing at the time dialogue was delivered.
The chorus all fulfilled their roles With zest and one or two were clearly having a ball ... one or two still had a way to go to master the movements. I use movement as opposed to dance as the only real dance routine was Tap Your Troubles Away. This was a fun number with good dancing and on the whole was well executed. Hannah Wilkinson had a voice that really suited the part and along with Fatty and Kessel and Bowman, played their supporting roles well.
The show of course stands and falls on the two leading characters, Mack and Mabel.
Megan Brand as Mabel had the harder dramatic role, moving from a girl in the deli to silent movie star to drunk and drug addict. The script does not always allow for this transformation to be made clear but for someone who was taking on this role as her first leading part, it was indeed a challenge. I am sure that as years go by Megan will look back and think she may have been able to do things a little differently, but that can only come with experience and I have to say it was only after I read the programme that I realised that this was her first lead. I thought you were excellent, I could see how hard you were working at the transformation and I just loved your rendition of Time Heals Everything. It was haunting and the highlight of my evening.
Well done Kerry Applln, I take my hat off to you sir. On stage almost from start to finish, you take the stage by the scruff of the neck and demand to be watched. Why you are still doing a day job is beyond me! Great energy, great voice and what a lot of lines to learn. I hope you get nominated for an award for this performance.
Many thanks once again to all who were involved in this production. The front of house team and bar staff were excellent and I can only echo what was being said in the bar at the interval and when the audience left and that was "great show" and "really enjoyed it".
I have to say I have seen a number of amateur productions in Peters field over the last couple of years, and paid a lot more for the privilege, but none have stood out like this production.
I hope finically it was a success and can only recommend a matinee performance and an increase in ticket prices perhaps for the raked seating for next time.
Many thanks for a most enjoyable evening.
B. Johns (Audience member)
A Joy to See an Old Favourite
What a joy to go and see an old favourite, rarely performed these days. This is a production with a whole string of beautiful lilting songs, which were all sung superbly. The set was very simple, but effective, with the use of various appropriate pieces of furniture moved on and off smoothly by cast members or crew in costumes. This enabled the show to flow uninterrupted from scene to scene. The Keystone Kops sequence was cleverly done on film, with just enough actual movement on stage from a lively and interesting ensemble, who all acted very realistically for the type of picture being displayed. All the props and costumes looked right for the era, the lighting was outstanding and the chorus singing came over well, although they were drowned out by the orchestra at times.
Congratulations must go to Director, producer, choreographer, performer etc., Ian Clark, for his excellent direction and, in particular, the silent movie clips. It took me a while to realise it was actually the cast who were in them! His use of freezes was very impressive and the closing of Act One was pure magic.
This show is totally dependent though on the two leads, and the chemistry between them in their up and down relationship. Kerry Applin gave an outstanding performance as Mack Sennett, speaking with total clarity at all
times and singing superbly. I lost track of how many times he sang solos or duets, but his rendition of I Won't Send Roses brought tears to my eyes, it was so moving. Megan Brand gave a remarkable portrayal of Mabel Normand, a wild and scatty waitress, throwing herself around the stage in a string of two-reel comedies and then slowly maturing into an elegant woman with a mind of her own and finally, declining into drink and drug dependence with no confidence at the sadly young age of mid-thirties. Megan also sang outstandingly and very movingly.
All the other principals gave excellent performances, especially Hannah Wilkinson (Lottie Ames) and Ryan Richards (Frank Capra). Skilled support came from Luke Brand ('Fatty' Arbuckle), especially in the musical numbers he shared with Ryan. They were a delight! Nadine Darnley (Mrs Kessel) and Mark De Salis (Mr Bauman) played their supporting roles well.
The orchestra gave a cohesive sound and was well directed by the Musical Director, Phil Woods. The whole show was superbly delivered by a talented cast, but the production team and backstage crew must also take credit for the smoothness of the scene changes and technicalities in this fantastic piece of theatre. An excellent portrayal with wonderful performances by all involved. Many thanks for a most enjoyable evening.
John E. Thomas (NODA Representative)
Filming for the show
We had great fun filming the silent movie sequences for the show in Queen Elizabeth Country Park and on the beach at West Wittering. Click here to see more pictures of the filming.