As Halloween entertainment goes, you won’t find a better haunt this fall than Drac in the Saddle Again at The Great American Melodrama.
So . . . juggling your sodas and nachos and beer from the snack bar, you wend your way to your seat among the families and couples and kids who have come to enjoy an evening’s entertainment. And enjoy it you will when you pay a visit to The Great American Melodrama in Oceano to see Drac in the Saddle Again.
Graced with a groan of a title, Drac nonetheless delivers enough melodramatic shenanigans, wild west shoot-’em-ups and pop culture posturing to inspire smiles, perhaps outright belly laughs, from even the most stoic among us.
You just can’t resist a snicker when a thwarted Dracula, played to hammy perfection by Jeff Salsbury, complains directly to the audience that “being a vampire sucks.” In fact, director Eric Hoit leaves no line or skirmish in this tale untouched when it comes to making sure we are always, always in on the fun. The cast members do much more than throw an occasional wink our way; they act as though the audience is another player in a musical comedy game of charades.
The fine piano accompaniment by Hoit’s able accomplice, musical director Thomas Buckley, lays the groundwork for much of this merriment. Both directors can be forgiven for allowing the cast free rein when snippets of disco and dance music intrude—think Abba, Queen, KC and the Sunshine Band, even Michael Jackson. There’s a comical recurring nod to “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” as well as a rousing all-hands-on-deck finale set to “Old Town Road” that even brings Drac back from the dead.
Despite these contemporary references, the program says we are in “The Arizona Territory” in the late 1800s, and some of the characters bear good ol’ cowboy names like Hank and Black Bart (played by troopers Toby Tropper and Mike Fiore). Versatile performers Jocelyn Lonquist and Ben Abbot are two lovers headed to wedded bliss, but the plot is clearly headed in a different, more supernatural direction with the introduction of Consuela Del Frankenstein (an energetic and unforgettable Annali Fuchs-Wackowski) and Dr. Vania Helsingvinger (Madison Kisst), both brazenly sporting unplaceable accents that they flaunt almost as often as Drac flourishes his scarlet-lined full-length cape (and that is pretty often).
As Halloween entertainment goes, you won’t find a better haunt this fall than Drac in the Saddle Again at The Great American Melodrama. It’s not malicious. It’s not terrifying. It’s delightfully amusing and a great two-hour diversion from real world worries.
To top it off, Drac is followed by “The Classic Comedy Vaudeville Revue,” which artfully portrays the variety of specialty acts that comprised the vaudevilles of old: a ventriloquist, a torch singer, tap dancers, G-rated fan dancers, and of course a chorus line.
Drac in the Saddle Again followed by “The Classic Comedy Vaudeville Revue” is playing now through November 17 at The Great American Melodrama, 1863 Front Street, Oceano. Tickets HERE or call 805-489-2499.