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Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on December 3rd, 2014, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 15, Issue 39 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 15, Issue 39

The Great American Melodrama offers family friendly holiday stagecraft

By JOE PAYNE

The bustling fun of the Great American Melodrama is always present from the moment the longtime theater’s doors open and the already costumed actors whisk you away to your seat. The magic of the Melodrama is amplified during the holiday season as the theater welcomes more actors to the stage and decks the humble hall will all manner of festoonery.


REMEMBER CHRISTMAS PAST
Ebenezer Scrooge (Beau Heckman) is taken on a trip through his past, present, and future at the Great American Melodrama
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE GREAT AMERICAN MELODRAMA

The first show of the night is the classic Dicken’s tale A Christmas Carol, so the welcoming actors, both adults and youth, are clad in the garb of Victorian England, top hats and all. As always, much of the cast is busy at work in the Melodrama’s concessions line, merrily singing for tips while serving food and drink. It is when everyone is settled and the lights go down that fantastic tales and characters come to life with the careful stagecraft of the Melodrama’s talented actors and technicians.

A Christmas Carol is a longtime stage favorite for a variety of reasons. The seemingly simple tale of the miserly and cold-hearted Ebenezer Scrooge gains depth as Scrooge is taken on a whirlwind adventure through time and is shown the true meaning of Christmas and life itself. This adventure gives the performers and technicians plenty of chance for spectacle, excitement, drama, and humor.

The Great American Melodrama’s resident actors are met by a well-selected supplement of local and traveling actors. Newcomer to the Melodrama stage Beau Heckman meets the challenge of Scrooge with a sinister scowl and cruel countenance. Melodrama emcee Philip David Black gives great heart to Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s foil. Cratchit can often become a secondary character, buffeted by Scrooge and the need to provide for his family, especially his ailing son Tiny Tim, but Black’s performance embraces the nature of the family man and the idealized hope he embodies.


GOOD TIDINGS, GOOD CHEER
Melodrama actors close the evening with the Sounds of the Season Vaudeville Review, which includes almost every holiday on the books.
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE GREAT AMERICAN MELODRAMA

Scrooge’s flames of hate are further fanned by a visit from his nephew Joe (Alex Sheets), who only wishes to invite his old uncle to Christmas dinner. In this sour mood Scrooge comes home only to be confronted by the specter of his deceased business partner Jacob Marley (Noah Kaplan), who warns Scrooge that he may suffer a similar disembodied fate if he doesn’t change his ways. Helping him along with this transformation are three ghosts. The first, the angelic Ghost of Christmas Past (Kate Worley), will help reveal to Scrooge and the audience why he is so twisted with anger.

Quick lighting and sound effects send our characters soaring into the past. This is the Great American Melodrama where it’s most comfortable: quick costume changes, classic stage tricks, and a story that moves briskly. All the while music director Kevin Lawson is accompanying the action with his hands at the piano. Rousing Christmas carols sound for the joyous scenes, and minor tunes are employed for dark and ominous moments. The piano is all that is needed to score the classic story, though the single instrument comes across at times like a symphony to match the snowstorm of activity onstage.

Catch the show
The Great American Melodrama presents its production of "A Christmas Carol, Little Red Riding Hood, and the Holiday Vaudeville Revue" showing through Dec. 31. The Great American Melodrama is located on Highway 1 in Oceano. More info: 489-2499 or info@americanmelodrama.com.

The Great American Melodrama’s middle act takes a break from the holiday theme for a mini operetta production of Little Red Riding Hood. This hilarious retelling of the story of Red and the Big Bad Wolf includes settings of wonderful melodies from across time, including Mozartian opera and American musical theater. The evening caps out with the Holiday Vaudeville Review titled The Sounds of the Season, and serves up a brimming cup of nostalgia, humor, and perfect four-part harmony. The exceptional evening of entertainment is a spectacle worth sharing with those you want to spend time with this cheery holiday season.

 

Arts Editor Joe Payne isn’t tired of holiday songs just yet. Contact him at jpayne@santamariasun.com.








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What'd you make of the county's decision to close beaches for the Fourth of July weekend?

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