Santa Maria Sun / Art
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 32
The Melodrama's 'Drac' celebrates Oktoberfest with a pre-show party
BY JOE PAYNE
The Great American Melodrama was absolutely buzzing with excited theatergoers on Oct. 11 for the theater’s first of two Oktoberfest events, featuring a pre-show dinner, beer, and live music.
Before Drac in the Saddle Again got going at 7 p.m., the concerted talents of Trio Internationale graced the Melodrama stage. Made up of Fritz, Franz, and Freud, the trio features bass, drums, accordion, and vocals. They played every German drinking song you’ve heard—and haven’t heard of—with a tongue-in-cheek humor that isn’t foreign to the Great American Melodrama.
The line to the concessions area was long, but the waiting area was packed by Firestone Walker Brewing Company staffers, who brought several ice-cold kegs of Firestone’s Oaktoberfest, a delightful German Marzen the brewery uncasks every season.
The Oaktoberfest brew paired perfectly with the German dinner that was on sale in the concessions area. Though you could still get the usual fare of hot dogs, pretzels, and popcorn, the theater’s kitchen definitely impressed me with the dinner plate of delicious sausage, sauerkraut, cabbage, and potato salad.
Once back in the theater with food and brews, audience members could enjoy the Oktoberfest celebration to the fullest, joining in on the raucous sing-a-longs and the onstage antics of Trio Internationale. A keen eye would recognize Chuck Osborne—Allan Hancock College jazz instructor and jazz band director—as the trio’s accordionist, who entertained with polkas and even classic rock ballads like “Smoke on the Water.”
Once 7 p.m. rolled around, the trio took a bow, and so began the melodrama’s production of Drac in the Saddle Again. The play began with a fascinating display of special effects I’ve never seen before on the Melodrama stage. Two characters in old-timey Western garb were sitting in the cross section of a stagecoach ambling down a dark country road. The cross-section technique allows the audience to see the actors inside the stagecoach.
The plot of Drac in the Saddle Again involves one of horror’s favorite villains, the undead Dracula of Transylvania, who makes his way out west. The idea is as silly as it sounds, mashing two genres together, but the outcome is purely terrific.
The only thing that makes this mash-up work is the supreme comedic talents of the Melodrama’s actors. Jim Goza’s portrayal of Dracula is one of the funniest things you can hope to see anywhere, from local theater to cinema to national television. His performance balances slapstick, Meta humor, and timing, but he isn’t the only villain who brings down the house with laughter.
One classic villain isn’t enough for this show. A suspicious housekeeper named Consuela del Frankenstein steals the show as well with her side plot of resurrecting the loser of a shootout in the name of her father, Professor Frankenstein. The hero of the show is the aptly named “Guy with No Name.” He is tasked with saving his beloved from the insatiable Dracula, his resurrected undead nemesis, and even his own colored past.
In the classic melodrama style, the audience gets to participate by cheering for the hero and booing and hissing at the villain. I found myself often cheering for the villains as well, not in approval of their dastardly antics, but rather the hilarity of their performances.
This play is also a good example of the malleability of the Melodrama, which uses a classic theatric framework to lampoon current events. Nobody is safe from the sharpened wit of the Great American Melodrama, not even Miley Cyrus.
And, of course, the night ends with the traditional vaudeville review. This version being the “Costume Capers” edition, which features more characters, songs, and laughs than you can wave an Oktoberfest bratwurst at. Whether or not you can make the Oct. 25 Oktoberfest event, make sure you catch Drac in the Saddle Again, because your funny bone won’t regret it.
You don’t have to invite Arts Editor Joe Payne twice to an event that includes bratwurst. Contact him at email@example.com.