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REVIEW / "KLONDIKE KALAMITY" : Parody Travels Up North : Moorpark Melodrama lives up to its name in this spirited tale of a 'Missing Mountie.'


Once each year, among its parodies of films, fairy tales and the like, the Moorpark Melodrama lives up to its name and presents a more-or-less traditional melodrama. This year, it's "Klondike Kalamity or the Case of the Missing Mountie," and--in the Moorpark tradition--it's a lot of good, more-or-less clean fun.

Truth is, "Kalamity" is, like all Moorpark productions, a parody, this time set somewhere Up North. Crusty old miner Warren Oudt (James E. Harlowe) lives in a cabin with his lovely daughter Nell (Kimberly Decker), his wife and Nell's sister having mysteriously disappeared several years earlier. Into this stumble disgraced Mountie Roger Upright (Scott MacGregor), would-be land-grabber Fangduster T. Barrelbottom (Robert Craig) and the sexually ambiguous Farley Goodbody (Elaine Raleigh).

Upright is the good guy, natch; falsely accused of a crime committed by (what a coincidence!) Barrelbottom. By the show's conclusion, justice is served and there's a triple wedding. Would that real life worked out so efficiently and appropriately.

Robert Craig is terrific as the unctuous Barrelbottom, having earlier played the villain in last year's "Virtue Victorious." At last Saturday's matinee, Craig was also effective as the show's sarcastic master of ceremonies.

Decker is one of the Melodrama's more reliable actresses, and MacGregor gives the hero a special goofy spin, reminiscent of Dick York in "Bewitched." Elaine Raleigh is bewitching as Goodbody. Oliver Hamilton plays the sun-blind Indian chief. Will Shupe II--who played the noxiously stereotypical Japanese in the Melodrama's "Road to Paradise"--here plays a judge who, some might think, falls into another unfortunate ethnic stereotype.

Seen as a chorus of dancing girls who pop up from time to time in the script by Gary Peterson and David Byrne are Erin Appling, Amanda J. Reeves, Michelle Amott and Nancy M. Keys, and David Webster appears as Prince K'nook.

Director Joy Enright also supplies the snappy choreography, which most of the dancers manage to complete in more or less unison. Singing voices of variable strength aren't helped by an ineffective sound system, said to be the result of an expensive upgrading of equipment.

Nevertheless, "Klondike Kalamity" is a lot of fun, thoroughly enjoyed by last Saturday's capacity matinee audience. Heckfire, Barrelbottom even gets to tie the heroine to a buzz-saw.


"Klondike Kalamity" continues through July 24 at the Magnificent Moorpark Melodrama & Vaudeville Company, 45 E. High St. in Moorpark. Performances are Thursday and Sunday evenings at 7; Friday and Saturday evenings at 8; and Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 3. All tickets are $12, with the following exceptions: $9.50 for seniors and children at matinees, and all tickets for Thursday nights are $6. For reservations or further information, call 529-1212.

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