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THEATER REVIEW 'GET SMART' : Mission: Mockery : Moorpark Melodrama spoofs the '60s TV spy spoof by shoehorning in a few songs and turning it into a musical.


One doesn't need to be a fan of the vintage TV spy spoof "Get Smart" to enjoy the current Moorpark Melodrama production. Like the rest of the Melodrama's opus, the show, written by Christopher Sergel, is a collection of songs and gags loosely tied together by some semblance of a plot.

Generally, the Melodrama takes off on (or from) something already in the public vernacular: a fairy tale, popular book or movie. This time, the source is the 1965-70 television series that parodied that other TV series "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." along with the then-current spate of super-spy novels and James Bond movies.

Like the series, the Melodrama's "Get Smart" follows Maxwell Smart (Agent 86), his sidekick Agent 99 and their boss, known only as Chief.

The bad guys have heisted a potential super-weapon and are apparently kidnaping a series of blond women. Princess Ingrid of Scandanavia is due to arrive in town and scheduled to stay at the same hotel from which the blondes are missing.

Could there be any connection? Since when did Scandanavia have a royal family? Where does the Energizer Rabbit fit into all of this? And what if the baddies make good on their threat to destroy a state capital? After all, we have plenty of state capitals.

Neil Boushell bears only a slight resemblance to Don Adams, who played Smart on TV, but he has the snappy vocal inflections down pat. Pat Newbert is leggy Agent 99 (sorry about the implied sexism, but leggy is in the job description); longtime Melodrama regular David Barry plays the Chief; Wendy Molloy is the petulant Princess; and Erin Appling comes close to running away with the show as the Chief's slinky assistant, Miss Finch.

Many members of the actors are newcomers to the Melodrama, though some, such as Molloy, Barry, and Laura Walker, are familiar faces. This cast seems to be a bit younger than usual, though no less capable. The performers' dancing to director Joy Enright's imaginative choreography is generally stronger than their singing, but all can handle their roles at least adequately.

Songs, often fit into the story with a crowbar, range from "These Boots Are Made for Walking" to "Don't Cry Out Loud" to "Honestly Sincere" (Conrad Birdie's big number from "Bye, Bye Birdie"). A few caricature Asian villains declare themselves Chinese in "The Siamese Cat Song" from "Lady and the Tramp."

The post-melodrama show this time is a salute to cartoons and Disney. It features the cast and even more of Linda Bredemann's snappy costumes in a half an hour or so pageant of songs from Disney ("Baby Mine," "I've Got No Strings," etc.), Hanna-Barbera ("The Flintstones," "Yogi Bear") and the Muppets with "Rubber Duckie," featuring a tap-dancing duck.


"Get Smart" continues Thursdays through Sundays through Feb. 8 at the Magnificent Moorpark Melodrama & Vaudeville Company, 45 E. High St. Curtain is 7 p.m. Thursday and Sunday, 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, with Saturday matinees at 3 p.m. Tickets are $12, or $10.50 for seniors and children on Thursday, Saturday matinee and Sunday performances only. Group rates are available. For reservations or information, call 529-1212.

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