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Dermot Mulroney – Look Out, Old Mack is Back

Updated: Feb 13




Dermot Mulroney

Look Out, Old Mack is Back

By Ronald Sklar


Once again, busy actor Dermot Mulroney is stepping – or in this case, singing and dancing – outside his comfort zone.


“I’m always comfortable when I’m having fun,” he insists, however.


This time, the fun presents itself not in another movie (there are lots of them. Check his IMDb), but as an “in concert” production of the Broadway musical Mack & Mabel (three nights only – February 16-18, 2024 – at North Hollywood’s El Portal Theater).


The fully staged, choreographed event is an inaugural production of the All Roads Theater Company; it’s based on the “forgotten” 1970s musical about Tinseltown’s earliest era. Expect Keystone Kops and flappers.


“It’s a romance and a beautiful story,” Dermot says. “It’s a major event in the musical theater world happening for a very short run.”


Dermot stars as silent-film director Mack Sennett and introduces Jenna Rosen as Mabel Normand, who became one of early Hollywood’s biggest stars.



A revival like this is no small thing for both the theater culture and for the actor himself.


“There are thirty people in this company,” Dermot says. “I’m learning so much from all of them.”


That the original show somehow slipped under the cultural radar is a baffling crime – the 1974 production starred no less than Robert Preston and Bernadette Peters; David Merrick produced it, with music and lyrics by Jerry Herman (Hello, Dolly, Mame). The show received eight Tony nominations and won none. Herman was not nominated. It ran for just 66 performances.


Yet somehow, over the decades, the original cast album grew an obsessive fan base, and there is new interest in the story.



Dermot says, “You learn now, in the computer age, that anything and everything has its following. The people who know Mack & Mabel are crazy about it.”


What else is crazy – so crazy that it makes perfect sense – is the shared hope for the show to make its way back to Broadway, fifty years later.


“There is every reason for that to happen,” Dermot says.


So why would a man who is known for so many movies suddenly take to the boards?


“I’ve decided to do Mack & Mabel for two reasons,” Dermot says. “One: I’ve never done this before, singing in a full musical. And two: because I’ve always wanted to do it. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity when it came to me out of the blue.”


Leading man roles sure enough attach themselves to Dermot. He’s been at it for about forty years, starring in everything from My Best Friend’s Wedding to The Wedding Date and Young Guns. On TV, he played Rachel’s boss on Friends, as well as prominent roles in New Girl and Shameless. He is also an accomplished cellist and has played professionally on various on-screen projects as well as in live musical performances.



Mack & Mabel, however, is a whole different animal.


“It’s hugely challenging for me,” Dermot admits. “It’s a world I’ve never inhabited. The two times I’ve been in musicals were in my senior year at Northwestern University, a thousand-seat theater. I sang in an operetta, as Ko-Ko The Executioner in Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado.”


There is also the one that got away: the time that Francis Ford Coppola chose Dermot to play The Big Kahuna in his ambitious Gidget stage musical (alas, it never got past the workshop phase). And he has indeed sung in public before: on the big screen, to Julia Roberts, on a boat (see it below).



Mack & Mabel, though, is the musical Big Time. It fits nicely with his continuing busy career, including a key supporting role in the current hit romcom Anyone But You, as well as his turn as Detective Bailey in Scream 6.


“I’ve just been incredibly blessed,” he says of his journey. “I’ll admit, that’s what I thought the assignment was when I first became an actor, to be a man of a thousand faces.”


His face can now also be regularly seen on social media, as he has pumped up his posts on Instagram. Most of them push his current projects, but he also shares the kick he gets out the universally common misspelling of his name (think “Dermont” on a Starbucks cup).


“That is so fun for me because it’s happened to me my whole life,” he says.


Still, he enters the world of social media carefully, and treads lightly, as online life can sometimes do bad things to our offline attention spans.


The solution?


“We have to re-expand our attention spans,” he says. “That’s why the four-five-six-month learning process on Mack & Mabel has been incredibly good for my brain.”


Find out more about Mack & Mabel here.


Copyright ©2024 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: February 12, 2024.


Photo #1 © 2018 Robby Klein/Contour by Getty Images. Courtesy of Ken Werther PR. All rights reserved.


Photos #2 & 3 © 2024. Courtesy of Ken Werther PR. All rights reserved.



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