Spooky season is in full swing at the Great American Melodrama, which has been transformed into a haunted golf course for its Halloween production.
Unlike the classic fairy tale it’s clearly spoofing, Trudy and the Beast—onstage at the Melodrama through Nov. 11—opens with a prologue about a pro golfer (played by Cameron Parker), rather than a prince, who crosses paths with a supernatural entity.
The PGA tour golfer is transformed into a half-man, half-fish monster, akin to Creature From the Black Lagoon, during the strange encounter, cleverly set at the Black Lake Golf Course in Nipomo.
Part of the joy of seeing any show at the Melodrama is the virtual guarantee that you’ll hear some inside jokes poking fun at the Central Coast. They’re often intentionally cringey, but it’s hard not to giggle when the localized jabs make one or more audience member guffaw uncontrollably. Sometimes the most satisfying laughs are the contagious ones.
Although sightings of the amphibious humanoid at the Black Lake Golf Course are dismissed as myth by locals, the urban legend still leads some golfers to skip the 13th hole, as it’s near the lagoon rumored to be his home.
A plucky golf enthusiast named Trudy (Bianca Jeanette), however, isn’t afraid of playing the course in its entirety, despite warnings from others—including the play’s Gaston equivalent, Gerard (Samuel Quinzon), a vain villain who claims to have more golf trophies than Tiger Woods.
Mirroring the dynamic between Gaston and Belle in Beauty in the Beast, Gerard lusts after Trudy without reciprocation, but her best friend, Minnie (Carley Herlihy), has the hots for him. I don’t remember Belle having a friend that Minnie could be parodying, but Gerard’s sidekick caddy, Felix (Kelly Brown), seems to be channeling LeFou.
According to the show’s program, Trudy and the Beast marks the Melodrama debut for Jeanette, Herlihy, Brown, and Quinzon, who each offer eagle performances during both the main two-act event and the Monster Mash vaudeville program that follows.
Parker, who inhabits his lagoon creature role swimmingly and delivers most of the show’s laughs, is among the Melodrama regulars who grace the stage as well, along with Meggie Siegrist and Toby Tropper.
In the place of Mrs. Potts and Cogsworth, Siegrist and Tropper give us Mrs. Putts, an anthropomorphized golf bag, and Cartsworth, who has the upper torso of a man and the bottom torso of a golf cart. These two stole the show every chance they got and left me wanting a spin-off solely centered on their misadventures.
Like most shows at the Melodrama, Trudy and the Beast is full of song parodies, including spoofs of tracks from Phantom of the Opera, Little Shop of Horrors, The Sound of Music, and Grease.
The Monster Mash vaudeville revue lampoons the lyrics of several songs as well, personalizing each to the perspectives of vampires, zombies, mummies, werewolves, and other creatures of the night.
Speaking of werewolves, the Melodrama already has plans for its next Halloween production: Werewolf of Arroyo Grande, set to premiere in September 2024. Village locals and roosters alike, please beware the full moon.
Arts Editor Caleb Wiseblood has bats in his belfry. Send tricks and treats to [email protected].