Arts & Culture

In Melodrama musical ‘Under the Boardwalk,’ life’s a beach

Bivalve DeVoe (Toby Tropper) flirts with Rita (Emily Chatterson) in “Under the Boardwalk,” playing at the Great American Melodrama and Vaudeville in Oceano.
Bivalve DeVoe (Toby Tropper) flirts with Rita (Emily Chatterson) in “Under the Boardwalk,” playing at the Great American Melodrama and Vaudeville in Oceano.

The hilarious musical comedy “Under the Boardwalk” returns to the Great American Melodrama and Vaudeville in Oceano to kick off its summer season.

Written by former Melodrama actor Erik Stein, with additional lyrics by Jordan Richardson, “Under the Boardwalk” was originally produced by the Melodrama in 2009. It was brought back by popular demand in 2011 and updated with new songs for this year’s production. (Starting July 14, this show alternates with the classic melodrama “A Witless Rogue.”)

“Under the Boardwalk” is a delightful tribute to Pismo Beach and its clams.

At the start of the musical, the concerned Clams demand a safe zone under the Pismo Beach Pier until the start of clamming season.

MC Clammer (Philip Black) leads the shellfish protest with signs stating “We’re Steamed.” He is accompanied by his two friends, kindhearted Glen (Philip Bolton) and zany Bivalve DeVoe (Toby Tropper).

The Clams are upset with the annoying and screeching Gulls who prey on them for food. They are constantly harassed by three female seagulls: feisty Flo (Louise Barcellos), sassy Rita (Emily Chatterson), and playful Daria (Chelcie Abercrombie).

The battle between the Clams and the Gulls seems like it will never end. Then Daria saves Glen from a horrible riptide. The two kiss and fall in love.

Their romance is immediately put in jeopardy due to their feuding friends and the obvious issues of being on opposite ends of the food chain.

Directed by Kevin Harris, “Under the Boardwalk” is jam-packed with nonstop songs and dancing. The clever musical numbers include amusing parodies of classic songs such as Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl,” Abba’s “Waterloo” and Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls.”

The production features choreography by Leah Kolb and musical direction by Nate McClure, who is also the master of ceremonies, DJ Jazzy Starfish.

Scenic designer Brian Williams vividly creates life under the pier complete with barnacles, rocks, sand and an ocean backdrop.

Costume designer Renee Van Niel dresses the Clams in beige shorts and shell-like vests. The Gulls wear short white outfits with sleeves doubling as wings; they use roller skates to glide around the stage.

Jessica Morgan is the stage manager.

Following each performance of “Under the Boardwalk,” the Melodrama presents the “I Love the 90’s Vaudeville Revue.” Through comedy, song and dance, the show celebrates the iconic music, movies and events of the 1990s. The same talented cast from “Under the Boardwalk” performs in the revue, joined by actor Mike Fiore.

In a show-stopping performance, Tropper impersonates actor Jim Carrey with a medley of his comedic movie roles. Black and Fiore hilariously channel Wayne and Garth from “Wayne’s World.”

The show also pokes fun at the blockbuster movies “Titanic” and “Silence of the Lambs.” Other musical skits pay tribute to popular ’90s songs by Madonna, Britney Spears and Spice Girls.

“I Love the 90’s Vaudeville Revue” is directed by Dan Schultz with musical direction by McClure and choreography by Kolb. It is a roller coaster ride of fun and laughter celebrating a decade that introduced us to “Friends,” the World Wide Web and the Macarena.

‘Under the Boardwalk’

7 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday; 6 p.m. Sunday; through September 25

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

$19 to $25

805-489-2499 or