Usually the fall production at the Great American Melodrama is quite satisfying. The productions usually have lots of humor, silly song parodies and some slapstick humor.
The latest production, “Sheer-Luck Holmes,” takes the silliness one step further and combined with the terrific Vaudeville Revue, “A Salute to the Film Musical,” makes for a very satisfying and exciting evening.
Directed and choreographed by former Melodrama artistic director Eric Hoit and written by the prolific Ben E. Millet, managing director of the Desert Star Playhouse in Murray, Utah, “Sheer-Luck Holmes” is a very funny and crazy play.
Philip David Black is a terrific Holmes, aided by his friend Dr. Watson, played very well by D.J. Canaday. The two make a strong and determined duo, who burst into song as they try to put together the clues.
A very funny running gag is when the pair bursts into a parody version of “Reviewing the Situation” from the play “Oliver!” whenever they are trying to determine a change in the investigation.
The plot involves the murder of three important archeologists, Sir Blackstone, Professor Plum and Colonel Mustard — yes, there are several references to the game of “Clue” throughout the play — who have discovered the key to a fortune in an Egyptian pyramid.
Holmes and Watson finally travel to Egypt to solve the case.
Along the way they become several silly characters.
Billy Breed returns to the Melodrama to play both Sir Blackstone and his evil twin brother Lord Blackstone. Breed is hysterical as he plays the villain with much gusto, relishing in the boos and hisses from the audience.
Alex Sheets plays not only Plum and Mustard in Act One, but is very funny as an Egyptian market vendor/assassin for hire, in Act Two.
Newcomer Bethany Rowe plays Blackstone’s niece Gwendolyn Periwinkle, who catches the eye of Watson. Rowe is very cute in the role and gets a big physical scene where she is hypnotized, and at one time becomes a monkey and a sumo wrestler right in front of the stage, interacting and actually wrestling with an audience member. Rowe handles the physical comedy with great gusto and is hysterical.
Steven Freitas plays Adam Nevilton, a mousy curator at a museum, who is engaged to Eve Blankenship, played by the very funny Crystal Davidson, who might not be all she seems to be. There are some very cute scenes between Adam and Eve, that are very humorous.
The cast is rounded up by Jacqueline Hildebrand who is a scream as Gwendolyn’s old and gaseous nanny.
The action flows at a fast and funny pace and Hoit does a terrific job throwing in parody songs and choreography throughout. The script is terrific and pun-filled with references to several classic musicals, including “My Fair Lady” and “Camelot.”
The set design by Brian Williams and costume design by Renee Van Niel is terrific as well.
The vaudeville revue is called “A Salute to the Film Musical,” and it too is directed and choreographed by Hoit.
The cast does a terrific job, starting with a take-off of the “Wizard of Oz,” with different casting. Hildebrand is extremely funny and cute, playing Shirley Temple as Dorothy. It wouldn’t be fair to reveal the other characters in the skit, so look for some funny surprises.
There is a medley of recording from different films, which features the different types of dance moves through the years. It is very fun and Sheets is particularly brilliant as he makes a quick on-stage change from “Jailhouse Rock” to “Saturday Night Fever” to “Grease.”
There is a sweet rendition of the Oscar winning song “Falling Alone” from “Once” that became a Broadway hit after. Sheets on guitar and musical director Sarah Wussow on the piano are outstanding in the duet, aided by Black on guitar and Rowe on the mandolin.
The revue ends with a wacky version of “The Sound of Music” starring dogs.
I don’t think I have ever seen a standing ovation at the end of a revue before, but it was deserved.
The entire evening was thoroughly satisfying and would be a great night out for the entire family. Get your tickets as soon as you can.
A on the Brad-O-Meter