Thursday, October 21, 2021     Volume: 22, Issue: 34

Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on October 2nd, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 20, Issue 31 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 20, Issue 31

Drac in the Saddle Again spoofs cowboys and vampires at the Great American Melodrama


Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed Fannie Farmer (Jocelyn Lonquist) notices a mysterious bat-shaped figure approaching her family’s ranch. The creature appears more and more anthropomorphic with each glance. Batman? 

Count on it
The Great American Melodrama and Vaudeville presents Drac in the Saddle Again through Nov. 17. Performances take place Wednesday through Friday at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 3 and 7 p.m., and Sundays at 6 p.m. Tickets range from $23 to $30. The theater is located at 1863 Front St., Oceano. Call (805) 489-2499 or visit for more info.

Sheriff Arnold Helsingvinger (Toby Tropper, left) identifies Guy (Ben Abbott, right) as an elusive fugitive known only as The Guy with No Name.

Unfortunately not, although he is wearing a cape. The non-Batman introduces himself as Norman Zinfandel, Farmer’s uncle visiting from Atascadero. We—the audience—know that’s not true, as we’ve just witnessed the real Zinfandel’s (Toby Tropper) violent demise only moments ago. The imposter is none other than Count Dracula (Jeff Salsbury), the iconic vampire who inspired the enduringly more popular Count Chocula—everyone’s favorite cereal killer.

After brutally murdering Zinfandel and his sister, Frances Farmer (Madison Kisst), Dracula commandeers their stagecoach—on course for Tombstone, Arizona, where the count plans to woo a new bride. He immediately sets his eyes—and teeth—on Fannie, who’s already engaged to one of her ranch hands, the ultra wholesome, quintessential cowboy Guy (Ben Abbott). Also competing for Fannie’s affection is not-so-wholesome gunslinger Black Bart (Mike Fiore). The two suitors constantly quarrel to the point of growling and barking at one another like dogs. In similar canine fashion, Guy is able to sniff out Dracula’s suspicious demeanor early on. Unfortunately the vampire uses a dark secret from Guy’s past to ward off his accusations, turning any negative attention toward the would-be hero.

It’s nearly impossible to escape the hypnotic gaze of Count Dracula (Jeff Salsbury), who plots to woo a new bride during his stay in Tombstone, Arizona.

Dr. Vania Helsingvinger (Madison Kisst, center) knows exactly where to look in order to move the plot along and finally defeat Dracula.

But Dracula isn’t the only horror icon spoofed in the Great American Melodrama’s latest production, as Consuela Del Frankenstein (Annali Fuchs-Wackowski), daughter of the late great Victor Frankenstein, hatches a devilish scheme of her own. The mad scientist—who poses as a humble servant of the Farmers’ household—plans to make daddy proud by resurrecting a corpse into a Frankenstein’s monster of her own. She even gets her own Igor along the way, in the form of town resident Hank (also Tropper), who reluctantly becomes Consuela’s handicapped lab assistant after an “electroshock therapy” mishap.

Tropper also triples as a third character, Sheriff Arnold Helsingvinger, who Guy soon calls upon to help him rid the ranch of Dracula. Luckily for our heroes, the sheriff is joined by his sister, Dr. Vania Helsingvinger (Kisst), who is well versed in vampire folklore. She also owns a copy of Plot Exposition for Dummies, which comes in handy as the show’s climax draws nearer, leaving no fourth wall standing.

Guy’s (Ben Abbott, left) betrothal to Fannie Farmer (Jocelyn Lonquist, right) becomes endangered after Dracula arrives in town, posing as a visiting relative of Farmer’s.

Drac in the Saddle Again is of course followed by the Melodrama’s traditional Classic Comedy Vaudeville Review, a hilarious tribute to vaudeville routines and variety show sketches. One such skit is “The Dentist” from The Carol Burnett Show, which Tropper and Abbott lovingly re-create, portraying the titular dentist and his patient, respectively. While attempting to inject novocaine into the patient’s mouth, the nervous, bumbling doctor accidentally numbs his own hand—then his leg—and finally his forehead. The physical gestures that ensue as Tropper is determined to finish the procedure are priceless and possibly worth the price of admission alone. 

Arts Editor Caleb Wiseblood always keeps emergency garlic in his pocket. Contact him at

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