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THEATER REVIEW 'A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR'S COURT' : A Royal Production : Farcical update of Mark Twain's classic story is a singing and dancing spectacular.


Hank Morgan's high school science project goes awry, and the young inventor is thrust back in history--and across the Atlantic--to Arthurian England.

That's the premise of Tim Kelly's script for "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court," a farcical updating of Mark Twain's classic story with songs by Larry Nestor.

It's one of the better productions of the consistently good Magnificent Moorpark Melodrama & Vaudeville Company, a must-see for those who know the group and a fine introduction for those who don't.

Typically, it's a singing and dancing spectacular, with lots of fancy costume work and a cast of attractive young actors. And it is certainly family-oriented.

Directed by Moorpark High School drama teacher and Moorpark Melodrama veteran Steve Robertson, "Yankee" features a uniformly fine cast and a script that's tighter than many other Melodrama offerings.

Gary Shaffner stars as Hank Morgan, the resourceful student who winds up in the thick of royal intrigue.

Darrin Ingram, under extravagant costume and makeup, is the conniving magician Merlin, and Julia C. Peacock plays the cunning Morgan Le Fey, whose idea of revenge is a fate worse than death--transportation to . . . Somis! (Poor Somis remains a running gag with the Moorpark crew.)

Joel Raye is King Arthur, and Kathi Janca Powell the accident-prone Queen Guinevere. Comic relief (no small achievement in what's a comedy to begin with) is provided by Lonnie Robbins as the court jester, Aaron Craig as thick-witted Sir Lancelot, and Robin Murphy as the even thicker Sir Sagamore.

The show's requisite fetching maidens include Colleen Ogilvie, Deborah Webster and Robin Silberman.

Choreography is by DeAnne Spicer, who is new to the troupe. Her work with Shaffner and Ogilvie on "Are You a Dream Come True?" is a particular hoot; a parody of a decade's worth of romantic movie duets.


"A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" continues through April 4 at the Magnificent Moorpark Melodrama & Vaudeville Company, 45 E. High St. in Moorpark. Curtain is 7 p.m. Thursdays and Sundays; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, with matinees every Saturday at 3 p.m. and a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. on March 22 only. Tickets are $12; $9.50 for children and seniors on Thursdays, Saturday matinee and Sunday performances only. Group rates are available. For reservations or information, call 529-1212.

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