Saturday, October 24, 2020     Volume: 21, Issue: 34

Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on February 4th, 2015, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 15, Issue 48 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 15, Issue 48

The Melodrama presents the espionage-themed 'Bullshot Crummond'


I have to admit, I had my own inner doubts when I saw the Great American Melodrama’s program for its current show Bullshot Crummond. It said that the entire show, including the closing Coffee House Vaudeville Review, would be performed by only five cast members. That’s quite a difference in the number of performers when compared to the theater’s holiday show, which called on nine actors, not including the several child actors who helped fill out the Cratchett family in A Christmas Carol.

I was wrong to doubt them.

Rosemary Fenton (Sierra Wells, pictured left) implores Capt. Hugh “Bullshot” Crummond (Toby Tropper, pictured right) to help find her missing father in 'Bullshot Crummond.'

The rib-aching hilarity of Bullshot Crummond begins when the Aryan villains Lenya and Otto Von Brunno (Meggie Siegrist and Sam Hartley) crash-land a biplane into the backyard of the British scientist Professor Rupert Fenton (Alex Sheets). The two dastardly nobles are hell-bent on stealing a top-secret recipe of Fenton’s to aid in a plot of world domination, and they seem to get their German jollies off from the whole experience.

After kidnapping the elderly Fenton and dragging him off into the bushes, the villains hear the sound of approaching footsteps and hide accordingly. This where we meet our title character Capt. Hugh “Bullshot” Crummond (Toby Tropper), the sharp-eyed and keen-witted Brit who is the sworn enemy of the Von Brunos. Within moments of being on the scene, Crummond’s leisurely hunting expedition is interrupted when his Sherlock Holmes-esque powers of observation and deduction notice something amiss, putting him on the scent of Otto Von Bruno.

Afterward, Crummond is contacted by Fenton’s daughter Rosemary (Sierra Wells), who implores him to help find her missing father. The story picks up the pace, and these five actors take the audience on an action-packed and hilarious adventure that is part James Bond, part Rocky and Bullwinkle. Various props, stage tricks, and effects elicit the feeling of a serialized adventure story out of ’50s and ’60s pulp comic books, complete with car chases, disguises, and scientifically questionable traps and weapons.

A newcomer to the Great American Melodrama stage, Tropper, dazzles in the lead role with his depiction of the brilliant—though often daft—Crummond garnering cheers and laughter from everyone in the audience. Melodrama veteran Sheets compliments Tropper’s lead with many faces, including Professor Fenton, a prim and proper waiter, an English bobby, a frustrated Scottish detective, and just about every other role necessary for the tongue-in-cheek adventure story. Wells’ performance as the distressed damsel Rosemary is a gut busting caricature of every British dame who calls out for rescuing.

Take it in
The Great American Melodrama presents its production of 'Bullshot Crummond' and 'The Coffeehouse Vaudeville Revue' showing through March 8. Show times are Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays at 7 p.m.; Saturdays at 3 and 7 p.m.; and Sundays at 6 p.m. at the Great American Melodrama, Highway 1, Oceano. More info: 489-2499 or

The synergy between Siegrist and Hartley as the Von Brunno’s is a spectacle unto itself, complete with thick accents and sadomasochistic overtones. Hartley shows off some incredible quick-change skills during a scene in which Von Bruno argues with a dimwitted character from America, both played by Hartley, who seamlessly shifts between costumes and accents for a scene remarkable in more ways than one. 

As per usual at the Melodrama, the evening culminates with a vaudeville revue, and the theme for this go-round is coffee shops. The Coffee House Vaudeville Review includes skit, song, dance, and more, employing every talent the five actors have. Throughout both productions, the group is aided by the swift-fingered Kevin Lawson at the piano, who provides mood music and more during both shows and also arranged the music for the vaudeville review. 

While the five actors make up the visible portion of the show, the behind-the-scenes folks are equally important. Both shows were directed by current Great American Melodrama artistic director Eric Hoit, who proves it’s not the number of actors at your disposal, it’s how you use them that counts.


Arts Editor Joe Payne is still buzzing from the Coffee House Vaudeville Review. Contact him at

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