Imagine a 1980s ski movie transported to an immaculate golf course.
There’s a beloved institution on the skids. A tough tournament at stake. And when the ragtag band of misfits battles the proud preppies, you can bet a young man will prove his worth, a young woman will pledge her love and a bully will get his comeuppance by the time the end credits roll.
Ken Ludwig’s “The Fox on the Fairway” might be considerably more sophisticated than, say, “Hot Dog … The Movie,” but it shares the same love of silly sound effects, wacky characters and outrageous coincidences.
Penned by the playwright behind “Lend Me a Tenor” and directed by Eric Hoit, this hilarious hole-in-one comedy runs through March 10 at the Great American Melodrama in Oceano.
It’s the morning of the big Inter-Club Championship between the Quail Valley Country Club and its longtime rival, Crouching Squirrel, and club director Henry Bingham (Billy Breed) is feeling good.
After five years of losing to Crouching Squirrel, his club finally has a secret weapon: a new member with an unbeatable game. Bingham is so confident of his success that he strikes a wager with his Crouching Squirrel counterpart, Dickie Bell (DJ Canaday), a delightfully self-absorbed snob with a yen for outrageous golf sweaters.
If Quail Valley wins, Bell will cough up $200,000. But if Bingham loses, he’ll have to hand over $100,000 and the deed to his wife Muriel’s antique shop, Ye Olde Crock. And Muriel (Jacqueline Hildebrand), a miniature martinet with the social graces of a drill sergeant, is no woman to trifle with.
Unfortunately, Bingham’s star player has just joined Crouching Squirrel. Board member Pamela Peabody (Crystal Davidson) brings more bad news. If Quail Valley loses, Bingham is out of a job.
Luckily, Bingham’s new assistant, Justin (Philip David Black), who just got engaged to taproom barmaid Louise (Bethany Rowe), happens to be a superb golfer — when he keeps his cool.
Vowing to fire Justin if he loses, Bingham enters him in the tournament. Now, if only the gawky goofball can remain calm enough to play the perfect game.
Advertised as a tribute to the great English farces of the 1930s and ’40s, “The Fox on the Fairway” has all the hallmarks of a classic madcap comedy: mistaken identities, slamming doors and zany plots twists involving a missing engagement ring, an expensive antique vase and a case of hysterical blindness.
Watching Breed’s woebegone Bingham trade barbs with Canaday’s conniving Bell is sheer fun, although Hildebrand comes dangerously close to stealing the scene as the howling, scowling Muriel. Davidson brings an engaging earthiness to her role as Pamela, and Black and Rowe are sweet as the young lovers.
Still, nothing can top the post-play recap, which finds the cast reenacting the plot of “The Fox and the Fairway” at full speed. It’s a fun, fast-paced scene that’s almost as exhausting to watch as it much be to perform.
Performances of “The Fox on the Fairway” are paired with “A Starry, Starry Night Vaudeville Revue,” created by Canaday, Melodrama producing artistic director Nova Cunningham, actor Alex Sheets and music director Sarah Wussow. The cast establishes its stellar theme in an opening medley that includes star-studded Broadway ballads, swinging classics and Top 40 pop songs.
There’s a calypso version of Perry Como’s “Catch a Falling Star,” an all-kazoo salute to John Philip Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever” and a “Family Feud” parody that pits “Star Wars” characters Darth Vader, Princess Leia and Chewbacca against three “Star Trek” officers.
But the revue’s biggest hit is a recurring sketch about a barista (Bethany Edlund) at Starstrucks Coffee, “where stars go for a cup of Joe.” You can almost see her patience fraying as she deals with demanding customers like Julie Andrews (Davidson), Bugs Bunny (Breed) and Jim Carrey (Canaday).
IF YOU GO
"The Fox on the Fairway"
7 p.m. tonight and Friday, 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday and 6 p.m. Sunday, through March 10
The Great American Vaudeville & Revue, 1863 Front St. (Highway 1), Oceano
$18 to $22
489-2499 or www.american