Arts & Culture

Stage: In Love, and that's ok

Four lumberjacks find their male-centric lives disrupted by the arrival of a mail-order bride in ‘Lumberjacks in Love,’ playing at the Great American Melodrama in Oceano through April 25.
Four lumberjacks find their male-centric lives disrupted by the arrival of a mail-order bride in ‘Lumberjacks in Love,’ playing at the Great American Melodrama in Oceano through April 25. PHOTO BY GARY ADAMS

What happens when a quartet of confirmed bachelors comes in contact with the fairer sex? “Lumberjacks in Love,” of course.

Directed by Eric Hoit, the Great American Melodrama’s latest production pits the luckless loggers against a mail-order bride. The romantic romp, written by Fred Alley and James Kaplan, takes place in a Midwestern lumber camp “nigh on one hundred years ago.”

As the musical comedy opens, Muskrat (Chuck McLane) is celebrating his 40th birthday with the help of his bunkhouse buddies, including Dirty Bob (Billy Breed), Minnesota Slim (George Walker) and Moonlight (John Keating).

Life is good at the Haywire Lumber Camp, more than 200 miles from civilization. Here in the wilds of Wisconsin, the men are free to spit, scratch and break wind whenever they like. But there’s something missing from their manly, macho lives: women.

George had his youthful heart broken by the girl next door. It’s been six years since Moonlight caught sight of a woman, and Dirty Bob’s last female contact was being bathed by his mother.

Moon and his youthful sidekick, the Kid (Katie Worley), are forced to find romance in the pages of their favorite novels, like “Annabelle Braveheart and the Frontier Fighter.”

Then a telegram arrives. Dirty Bob has mistakenly ordered a mail-order bride for Slim, and she’s set to arrive that day.

The news throws the men into a panic. Meanwhile, the Kid decides to reveal her true identity as a woman by masquerading as the mail-order bride (Bree Murphy).

With its numerous musical numbers and a robust, rollicking plot, “Lumberjacks in Love” gives its talented cast plenty of chances to shine.

It’s a pleasure to hear the men break into four-part harmony, accompanying themselves on banjo, guitar, ukulele and harmonica. In one funny scene, they even explore the percussive properties of washboards, buckets and tubs.

McLane, Walker and Breed, who appears to be channeling Dustin Hoffman’s “Rain Man” character, provide much of the comic relief. And Worley and Keating have sweet chemistry as a chronically confused couple. The atmosphere is enhanced by technical director Gary Adams’ fine set, which transforms readily from a rustic logging camp to the tranquil woods.

“Lumberjacks in Love” is followed by the Melodrama’s vaudeville revue, “Viva Las Vegas!” Directed by Andrew Beck, the cast pays homage to Sin City in the 1970s with snazzy dance numbers, comic skits and a “Twilight Zone” spoof. There’s even a tribute to “The Dean Martin Show,” complete with appearances by Frank Sinatra, Cher and Bette Midler.

The highlight of the evening is Breed and Mc- Lane’s spot-on parody of magicians Siegfried & Roy. As they croon “I Got the Sun in the Morning” with thick German accents, Walker steals the show as a singing, dancing Siberian tiger.

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