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Monsters and madmen run amok just in time for Halloween at Oceano's Great American Melodrama

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There are few faster ways to my heart than a good Disney spoof. Oceano might be a little town, but it's far from a quiet village during the Great American Melodrama's parody of Belle's opening number from Beauty and the Beast.

A mad scientist by the name of Doctor Polvard (Toby Tropper) gets the "look there he goes, that guy is so peculiar" treatment from villagers (singing in unison) as he passes on his way to a local vendor. Unlike his Disney counterpart though, Polvard isn't shopping for books. He's in the market for human entrails—any organs and body parts he can use for his ongoing experiments.

One such experiment is the resurrection of Frankenstein's monster, one of two bodily revivals integral to Frankenstein's Bride—the Melodrama's latest spooktacular offering, perfect for Halloween festivities and beyond (with performances running through Nov. 14).

The plot thickens when the iconic monster, who we eventually come to know as Friedrich (Ben Abbott), escapes Polvard's laboratory and goes into town. He comes across a tavern, and the tavern owner's daughter, a young, blind woman named Juliana (Sydni Abenido). Friedrich is immediately entranced by Juliana's singing and concertina playing, specifically during her rendition of Kelis' "Milkshake."

HAPPILY EVER AFTER The ensemble cast of Frankenstein's Bride includes, from left to right, Billy Breed, Meggie Siegrist, Mike Fiore, Ben Abbott, Sydni Abenido, Jeff Salsbury, and Romy Evans. - PHOTOS COURTESY OF SIMPLY CLEAR MARKETING
  • Photos Courtesy Of Simply Clear Marketing
  • HAPPILY EVER AFTER The ensemble cast of Frankenstein's Bride includes, from left to right, Billy Breed, Meggie Siegrist, Mike Fiore, Ben Abbott, Sydni Abenido, Jeff Salsbury, and Romy Evans.

"My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard." Friedrich was the first, but two other boys are on their way to said yard—Polvard and his hunchbacked assistant Hans (Mike Fiore), hot on the trail to recapture their prized experiment. A series of unfortunate events follows, leading to Polvard's team-up with another notable scientist, Frankenstein (Jeff Salsbury)—not the original Frankenstein, who created Friedrich, but his grandson.

This Frankenstein wants little to do with his grandfather's bizarre legacy but reluctantly agrees to help Polvard with his next experiment after his wife, Elizabeth (Romy Evans), is kidnapped by the monster. But deep down, Friedrich is a gentle giant (Abbott is already tall, but his platform shoes raise the monster's towering stature to about 6-foot-7), and Elizabeth helps him get in touch with his livelier side.

Billy Breed, as the town tavern's quirky owner, and Meggie Siegrist, as the mysterious Frau Braunholder, round out this show's cast of heroes and villains, whom the audience is frequently encouraged to cheer and boo for, respectively (thanks to musical director Lacey McNamara's sensational piano cues). Oceano's Melodrama has always had a way of making its patrons feel like they're part of the story, and Frankenstein's Bride is no different.

If you're a lover of all things goofy (especially puns and pop culture references), this family-friendly show is a fun, interactive experience—one I'm especially grateful for as live theater outlets continue to slowly reopen along the Central Coast. Speaking of which, in order to stay safely open, the Melodrama requires guests to keep their masks on during each performance, unless actively eating or drinking.

WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON? The audience is frequently encouraged to cheer and boo for the show's heroes (left) and villains (right), respectively (thanks to musical director Lacey McNamara's sensational piano cues). - PHOTOS COURTESY OF SIMPLY CLEAR MARKETING
  • Photos Courtesy Of Simply Clear Marketing
  • WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON? The audience is frequently encouraged to cheer and boo for the show's heroes (left) and villains (right), respectively (thanks to musical director Lacey McNamara's sensational piano cues).

Following this two-act production, and its two 15-minute intermissions (giving attendees ample time to head on over to the Melodrama's famous snack bar), the show's cast members reemerge to close the night with a vaudeville revue. As its title might suggest, 2001: A Space Vaude-essy is a collection of skits paying homage to staples of science fiction and space opera, including The Twilight Zone, War of the Worlds, Star Wars, and Star Trek.

I almost choked on my hot dog thanks to Tropper's delivery as Bones McCoy: "Damn it, Jim, I'm a doctor, not a doctor." Δ

Calendar Editor Caleb Wiseblood needs a doctor to put his funny bone back into place. Send comments to cwiseblood@newtimesslo.com.

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