Any show that has both Gary Winterholler and Eric Jensen in the same cast practically guarantees a mother lode of laughs, fun and surprises.
And this great, old-fashioned melodrama (it even has a naive damsel in distress pleading, "No! No! A thousand times no!") is a sure thing for helping you forget the dismal haze, the depressing inversions and the winter blahs.Winterholler plays Shiftless Shonts, the lackadaisical sheriff of Cripple Creek, Colo., with Jensen as the very proper (if not somewhat addled) Algernon Smythe-Smythe, who gets caught up in a dastardly scheme (is there any other kind?) to bamboozle Soapless O'Sullivan out of his rightful claim to the Sally Kathleen Mine up in Poverty Gulch.
Director Jansen Davis has a fine cast for a show that is fast-paced and fun. Jesse Greathouse and Melissa Bridge play the love interests (let's hear a chorus of ooohs and aaahs, folks) - the handsome righter of the town's wrongs (white hat and all), Deputy Jack Readiman, and the sweetest, purest of Irish colleens, Miss Sally Kathleen O'Sullivan.
Sweet Sally's father, hard-working prospector Soapless, is played by Harlin Jones. Scrambling to rob the old coot blind are C. VanResslare Foulweather and his attractive cohort, Ruby Clenchbottom (Scott Holman and Allison Henriksen). Adding her own touch of humor and spice to the action is the proprietress of the Imperial Hotel, Betsy Bounce (Ginger Bunnell).
Accompanied by Val David Smithson at the honky-tonk piano, the show follows the exploits and adventures of the nasty villains, the downtrodden victims and the hardy heroes through a series of scenarios that range from heart-wrenching to heart-stopping, including a madcap chase through a mine tunnel, and some terrific special effects as part of a mine cave-in.
Frank Ackerman's colorful scenery, Joy Davis' choreography (especially during the olio acts), Ruth Todd's costumes and Ben Wheeler's lighting also add considerably to the professionalism at Desert Star Playhouse.
- VINTAGE VAUDEVILLE was the theme for the playhouse's delightful post-show olio numbers, in which the entire cast was showcased in such old-time ditties as "Hello, My Baby," "Abba Dabba Honeymoon" and "The Man in the Moon," along with a hilarious rendition of one of my favorite songs from slightly warped, off-the-wall genius humorist Tom Leher - "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park."
"We'll murder them all
Amid laughter and merriment
Except for the few
We take home to experiment . . ."
There was also a great glee club-style arrangement of "Alexander's Ragtime Band," a George M. Cohen medley and a fine solo by Smithson (the overture to "The Fantasticks"), but the funniest segment was a "Macbeth" send-up written and performed by Winterholler and Jensen - the former becoming more and more frustrated after he has to summon inept understudy Jensen to re-enact the Three Witches' sequence.
Their side-splitting "Which one? Witch One! But which one?" repartee was nearly in the same comedy ballfield as Abbott & Costello's classic "Who's on First" routine.
From Smithson's crowd-warming sing-alongs, through the two-act melodrama, and on through the 20 minutes or so of entertaining vaudille olios, an evening at Desert Star Playhouse has to rank as one of the best family outings in town.