An Old West show for the cool young audience

Ruben Perez, Reporter
February 15, 2012
Filed under Reviews

What does The Gaslight Melodrama’s newest play “Showdown in Shafter” have in common with a great plate of nachos?  They are both cheesy as hell.  That is not meant as an insult, because “Showdown in Shafter” is seven flavors of fun.

If you have never been to The Gaslight Melodrama, they are definitely worth a visit.  They are only one of four Melodrama theaters in California, and the only rules are that you cheer the hero and boo the villain.

This may sound a bit corny, but once it starts you can’t help but join in.  The audience participation isn’t mandatory, but you end up having more fun if you participate. You can also shout out “you suck” at the villain, and he’ll make a joke on the spot.

The play is a western set in Shafter during the prohibition era with Luke Lavender, the villain, illegally selling alcohol in his cellar.  As a get-rich-quick scheme, Lavender decides to get a mail-order bride, kill her and collect the life insurance.

Just because the concept came out of an episode of Dateline shouldn’t discourage you.  They’ve got plenty of good jokes about Kim Kardashian, how Shafter sucks, and even poke a quick funny at Bakersfield to keep things funny.

Fortunately for the damsel in distress, the hero, Sam Steadfast, is able to save her from dying in terribly cliché western murder attempts like being trampled by a cattle stampede and tied to the railroad tracks.

Not only were they able to pull off the most over-used plot about a western ever, it was so much fun the whole theater was laughing.

Also during the intermission, the actors will stay in character and take your food orders.  Little things like this are what make this theater different.

After the play, they did a Broadway Revue about people snowed in at an airport terminal.  Again, they were able to take a lame concept and make it entertaining with a great song and dance.

“Showdown in Shafter” will be running until March 10, so don’t miss it.

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