Arts & Culture

Great American Melodrama spreads joy with musical spoof ‘When Butter Churns to Gold’

Eleise Moore and Katie Worley Beck appear in a scene from “When Butter Churns to Gold,” playing at the Great American Melodrama and Vaudeville in Oceano.
Eleise Moore and Katie Worley Beck appear in a scene from “When Butter Churns to Gold,” playing at the Great American Melodrama and Vaudeville in Oceano.

The delightful musical comedy “When Butter Churns to Gold” is spreading lots of joy at the Great American Melodrama and Vaudeville in Oceano.

The show, which premiered at Wisconsin’s Northern Sky Theater in 2015, features a book by Peter Welkin, music by Ron Barnett and lyrics by Randi Wolfe.

The Narrator (Billy Breed) sets the tone for this melodrama parody with instructions for the audience to boo the villain, cheer the hero and praise the heroine.

In 1847, orphaned Constance Goodwin (Katie Worley Beck) is fearful of losing her family’s dairy farm to the bank in Lake Mills in the Illinois Territory, soon to become Wisconsin. Her father has died in a mysterious accident at the local brewery. Constance’s only companion, and the only person who can help her save the farm, is her spunky cousin, Helena (Eleise Moore).

The evil Friedrich von Fouler (Toby Tropper) and his sidekick, Simon Dewannabe (Eb Madson), desperately want the farmland. Friedrich proposes to marry Constance and pay the mortgage. Helena is skeptical about the plan.

Meanwhile, handsome Jonathon Strongfellow (Jeffrey Salsbury) tastes the amazing butter churned by Constance and it is “love at first bite.” He shares his vision with the potential dairy queen of how she can build a butter empire and rescue her farm.

Friedrich and Simon try to thwart the budding romance between the strapping hero and demure heroine. It takes gravedigging, a visionary raccoon and a secret stash of sapphires to help Constance, Jonathon and Helena fight back.

The madcap caper is well directed and choreographed by Michael Jenkinson with musical direction by Ilana Atkins. The talented troupe performs with sharp comic timing, skillful physical comedy and amusing facial expressions. Moore stands out as the witty and sarcastic cousin.

Adding to the silliness, the actors on occasion turn to the audience asking for input regarding their predicaments.

The costumes, designed by Renee Van Niel, fit with the 1840s setting. The villain is dressed in a black suit and top hat while the heroine wears a light pink dress.

Brandon PT Davis’ scenic design depicts the town with colorful cut-out buildings and a real Goodwin Family produce stand. The stage manager is Amanda Johnson.

Following each performance of “When Butter Churns to Gold,” the Melodrama presents “The Staycation Vaudeville Revue,” which celebrates the Central Coast as a vacation spot for locals. The revue features locations such as Morro Rock, the Oceano Dunes and Hearst Castle in San Simeon.

The show begins with a frustrated area resident (Tropper) trying to beat traffic on his way to the Los Angeles airport for a well-deserved vacation. A hilarious Highway Patrol officer (Madson) suggests a less-stressful vacation at home.

Other cast members join the fun through a variety of comical skits and songs from famous musicals such as “Singin’ in the Rain” and “A Chorus Line.”

“The Staycation Vaudeville Revue” is written and directed by Lawrence Lesher. The musical director and accompanist is Atkins, with choreography by Jenkinson.

The Great American Melodrama and Vaudeville has whipped up a delicious musical romp which turns laughter into pure gold.

When Butter Churns to Gold

7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, 6 p.m. Sunday; through April 23

Great American Melodrama and Vaudeville, 1863 Front St., Oceano

$20 to $27

805-489-2499 or