When Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid ride into the sleepy town of Oceano, the two bandits quickly decide they’ve found the ideal hiding place.
“This place is perfect,” Butch announces. “If you want a town where truly nothin’s happening, you can’t get any better than Oceano, California.”
That’s the first of several sly digs at the South County burg in “Butch Cassidy and the Sunburnt Kid,” currently playing at the Great American Melodrama in Oceano. The musical comedy, written by Ben E. Millet and directed by Erik Stein, pairs a familiar Wild West story with jokes tailored for Central Coast audiences.
Performances of “Butch Cassidy” alternate with “Lost At Sea,” a classic 19th-century melodrama.
To quote the Sundance Kid, it’s “rootin’, tootin’, foot-stompin’ fun.”
As “Butch Cassidy and the Sunburnt Kid” opens, the legendary outlaws are on the run from the law.
On their way to Bolivia, they stop in Oceano, where Butch (Kyle Huey) catches the eye of Dr. Quack (Melody Goodell), the town’s self-described “medicine woman.” Meanwhile, flirtatious schoolmarm Etta Place (Ali Keirn) sets her sights on the tongue-tied Sundance Kid (DJ Canaday).
Etta’s perpetually blotto brother, Jed (Shelby Nichols), has just sold his mine to Deadeye Dawson (Jim Shine), a card shark who runs the Great American Saloon with his French mistress, Miss Floozy (Leah Kolb).
Deadeye and his lackey, the local sheriff (Christopher Boyd), have big dreams for Oceano.
“I say we tear the whole thing down and turn it into an ATV rental,” Deadeye tells Miss Floozy, who isn’t partial to the idea.
In order to do so, he needs two things: money and land.
So Deadeye invites Jed to play a friendly game of cards—Uno, in this case — and tricks him into losing the Place house and $500. In order to pay him back, Etta will have to work at the saloon in a Hooters outfit.
“I’m as slimy as escargot,” Deadeye proudly boasts. And he has more sinister schemes up his sleeve, involving a comically named bandito and a train from Paso Robles loaded with gold.
A splendidly silly spoof, “Butch Cassidy” is stuffed with modern-day monkeyshines and musical parodies. Shine brings down the house with a goofy rendition of ABBA’s “Money, Money, Money,” while Huey finds the silly side of Peggy Lee’s “Fever” and Goodell performs a sweetly sassy version of “Let Me Entertain You” in the aforementioned Hooters outfit.
The show takes its title from a wanted poster that mistakenly identifies Sundance as “the Sunburnt Kid.” Thus begins a running gag that includes such inventive variations as Sunbeam, Sunstroke and SunChips; each elicits an angry yelp from the beleaguered bandit.
Paired with such a lively romp, the vaudeville revue—a musical tribute to American songwriter Cole Porter — seems a bit anemic.
Wearing 1930s-style tuxedos and evening gowns, the cast performs Great American Songbook standards including “Anything Goes,” “It’s De- Lovely” and “Let’s Misbehave” in an elegant party setting.
Some numbers soar. Others, such as “Let’s Not Talk About Love,” a wordy duet between Goodell and Huey, fall flat.
“Porter’s Parlor” works best when writer-director Jordan Richardson allows Porter’s lovely lyrics and lush melodies to speak for themselves.
In one point in the revue, Kolb and Canaday sway to “Begin the Beguine” while Nichols and Keirn sing “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” and Goodell and Boyd perform a playful version of “You’re the Top.” The song medley is so meltingly romantic that one audience member was overheard shouting “Excellent!” at a recent performance.