Monday, May 08, 2006

I like the troublesome Mack and Mabel storyline!

I don't know if I'll have to time to post a full review of the Top 5 things I liked about Mack and Mabel over on my personal blog today, but I wanted to comment briefly on that troublesome storyline.

If this show opened these days I don't think it would have problems due to the sordid and sad end to Mabel's career. I always think of Sweeney Todd as the original musical tragedy (I'm sure Greg will cite a million other and earlier examples) but certainly many musicals have echewed the happy ending in the last couple of decades...and managed to have healthy long runs despite that. They could have gone even darker were the show being produced today, perhaps. And produced it some place like Studio 54, a la the recent revival of Cabaret.

I, for one, am always touched by the poignancy of re-imagining what might have been. The ending of Mack and Mabel is Mack's imagining of a real old-fashioned wedding and happy ending for he and Mabel. It brought a tear to my eye. And it reminded me, for some reason, of the end of the movie Longitme Companion when Campbell Scott's character imagines the day AIDS is cured, the world party that will ensue, and imagines his dead friends back to celebrate. I still get a tear in my eye whenever I remember that scene.

The part of the storyline I find far more troublesome is how domineering and belittline Mack could be to Mabel. That's the part that may have shot down the show in the 70s, when the feminist movement was getting started. And that's the part that might beharder to take in this day and age.

Anyway, I've been thinking about the sad ending since I saw the show yesterday, and that's my take on it.

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