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THEATER REVIEW : Pink Panther Strikes Yet Again in Moorpark Melodrama Show : Bumbling Inspector Clouseau returns to the stage, and a stripped-down plot makes room for some song and dance.


Yes, it's another in the Moorpark Melodrama's current series of favorite showsfrom past seasons, but "The Pink Panther Strikes Again" may look familiar even to those who didn't see it last time around: Much of the story line was taken from one of the "Pink Panther" movies, the 1976 "The Pink Panther Strikes Again."

That's the one in which Inspector Clouseau (Peter Sellers) is promoted to chief inspector after his nemesis--and predecessor--Dreyfus (Herbert Lom) is "retired" to a sanitarium, having been driven bonkers by the bumbling Clouseau. Dreyfus escapes and kidnaps scientist Dr. Fassbinder, who has developed a "doomsday machine," hoping to use the device against Clouseau.

This version, directed by Joy Enright (who directed the Melodrama's first version, as well) is stripped down plot-wise to allow for the insertion of several song-and-dance numbers. It stars the versatile Damian Gravino as Clouseau, Jeff Wallach as Dreyfus and Will Shupe and Jim Harlow, each in multiple roles. This is a "Who's Who" of veteran Melodrama actors.

The women include Jennifer Moore--Christine in "Phantom of the Melodrama" earlier this year--as Fassbinder's daughter, Olga, and Melodrama veteran Sara Wilkey.

All those and several other members of the cast are featured in the show's encore vaudeville, a roughly 20-minute presentation billed as a tribute to "The Tonight Show" and Jay Leno. This gives the cast a framework on which to hang otherwise unconnected numbers, including a "Forbidden Broadway"-style parody of a song from "Les Miserables" and two vintage Stan Freberg routines: "Elderly Man River" (even more pertinent in the politically correct '90s than when first recorded, nearly 40 years ago) and "I've Got You Under My Skin."


* WHAT: "The Pink Panther Strikes Again."

* WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; runs through July 22.

* WHERE: Magnificent Moorpark Melodrama & Vaudeville Company Theater, 45 E. High St., Moorpark.

* HOW MUCH: $12, except $8 Thursday nights.

* CALL: 529-1212.

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