"Drac in the Saddle Again": A vampire in the desert

Great American Melodrama presents a spooky Western tale

slinn@thetribunenews.comOctober 24, 2013 

Jim Goza, left, and Hayley Galbraith in the Great American Melodrama’s "Drac in the Saddle Again."

COURTESY PHOTO

Lightning flashes. A high-pitched scream pierces the air. A bat flaps across the stage before transforming magically into a tall man with a fluttering cape and a mesmerizing stare.

It must be Halloween at the Great American Melodrama.

This season, the Oceano theater company resurrects a spooky spoof, “Drac in the Saddle Again.” Written by Steve Lovett and directed by Eric Hoit, this Western-horror hybrid features colorful characters and a wacky storyline cribbed from two cheesy B-movies: “Billy the Kid vs. Dracula” and “Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter.”

“Drac in the Saddle Again” wastes no time in setting that plot in motion.

After sharing a stagecoach ride with two ill-fated travelers — Momma Farmer (Bethany Rowe) and her brother, Norman Zinfandel (DJ Canaday) — Count Dracula (Jim Goza) travels to Tombstone, Ariz., where Momma’s daughter Fannie (Jillian Van Niel) runs a ranch with the help of her new fiancé and foreman (Melodrama newcomer Kyle Smith), a reformed bandit known as The Guy with No Name, or Guy for short.

Drac plans to pose as Uncle Norman until he can claim Fannie as his vampire bride. And he isn’t the only one competing with Guy for Fannie’s hand.

Ranch hand Black Bart (Alex Sheets) is sore that Guy stole his job and his girl. He challenges the gunfighter to a duel and loses.

That’s where Fannie’s mysterious maid, Consuela del Frankenstein (Hayley Galbraith), comes in. As her surname and thick Swiss accent might suggest, she’s none other than the daughter of that controversial scientist who created a monster.

With the help of soft-spoken cowpoke Hank (Canaday), whom she turns into a hissing, hopping monkeylike assistant, Consuela brings Black Bart back to life. (She does so despite constant interruptions from Fannie in what might be the single funniest scene in the show.)

Unfortunately for lovelorn Consuela, her reanimated hunk has the hots for Fannie.

Meanwhile, Fannie’s fiancé is fighting for his freedom. Drac wants Sheriff Arnold Schnetvinger (Canaday again) to lock Guy up for murder, but the sheriff’s European cousin, Dr. Hilde Schnetvinger (Rowe again), recognizes the vampire for what he is.

As men and monsters vie for the affections of pretty, perky Fannie, questions swirl like autumn leaves in an eddy. Will the monster get a mate? Will Dracula make Fannie his bride?

Galbraith and her minions provide most of the manic energy in “Drac in the Saddle Again,” aided by Goza as a bug-eyed baddie and Van Niel as an energetic ingénue. Smith, as the hero, is forced to play the straight man.

True to Melodrama tradition, this silly send-up of classic horror movies is piled high with goofy puns and musical references ranging from Abba’s “Dancing Queen” to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”

Performances of “Drac in the Saddle Again” are followed by the vaudeville revue “Costume Capers,” created by artistic director Nova Cunningham and music director Sarah Wussow with the help of choreographers Marty Craft and Van Niel.

The cast cycles through a series of skits and songs as they get ready for the Melodrama costume party, including an a capella version of “Flight of the Bumblebee.” The girls channel the Andrew Sisters to sing “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.”

Goza, dressed as a turkey, performs a “tasty tribute to a delectable treat” on acoustic guitar — Adam Sandler’s “The Thanksgiving Song.” And Sheets puts on a Cupid costume to serenade the audience with “That’s Amoré” on accordion.

Wussow even gets in on the act, playing a few classical ditties while dressed as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Of course, the revue is not without its scene stealers. Canaday wears a fantastic Ursula costume to perform “Poor Unfortunate Souls” from Disney’s “The Little Mermaid,” while Galbraith adopts Carmen Miranda’s fruit hat — and outrageous Brazilian accent — for “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song).”

IF YOU GO

"Drac in the Saddle Again"
Great American Melodrama, 1863 Front St. (Highway 1), Oceano
7 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday,
3 p.m. Saturdays and 6 p.m. Sundays
through Nov. 17
$18 to $22, discounts for children seniors, students and active military
489-2499 or www.americanmelodrama.com

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