Tuesday, October 17, 2017

BenDeLaCreme Brings Halloween

The entire cast of Beware the Terror of Gaylord Manor (Kevin Heard)
Beware the Terror of Gaylord Manor
(at ACT Theatre)
Through October 29, 2017

Just in time for Halloween, BenDeLaCreme has created a little silly morsel of a playlet that is clearly all about fun and barely about story. There’s a manor with a Count (Major Scales) who has a scary Mommy Skeleton (Sann Hall – puppeteer) who exhorts him to kill unsuspecting people who wander by.

Of course, BenDeLaCreme, as Patsy Jejune, wanders by and gets caught and subjected to being chased by dancing skeletons, and dancing ghosts, and a hunky weir wolf, so there’s a lot of running back and forth in ginormous heels while we all hold our breath to see if she falls down or not.

Beware the Terror of Gaylord Manor is probably best seen slightly buzzed. Certainly there is no need to pay much attention to plot, but the singing, mostly by Major Scales, who writes original tunes for this, is fine, and the costumes are great (designed by Danial Hellman – and others? the program isn’t exactly clear).

Some of the best moments in the show are the dancers, Randy Forde, Chloe Albin, Moscato Extatique, Elby Brosch, The One The Only Inga, and Faggedy Randy.  Inga does a burlesque dance in there somewhere for some reason, which is fun. The choreography is credited to the ensemble, but there are clearly some talented choreographers who worked together. The dancers are “real” dancers, which is a relief, since shows like this sometimes employ non-dancers and then ask them to dance and they usually don’t do it well.

Cast members Scott Schoemaker and Mandy Price, as Leo(nora) Dottington and Doctor Dottington provide much of the plot delivery, and they do a fine job keeping the story moving. Ben’s role is bland and stereotyped: she does a lot of heavy, fearful breathing and widening of her eyes, which is pretty much all that is required.

The set by Reiko Huffman includes obligatory but fun wall portraits that sing and mysterious doors that open and disappear. Lighting by Robert J. Aguilar and sound by Kevin Heard is well done, as expected by regularly employed technical folks such as they are.

Some directing choices are difficult, because this is done in The Bullitt Cabaret, which has two huge black square pillars in the room and the areas of staging are almost inevitably going to keep at least some of the audience from seeing some of the action. There is no guaranteed spot, likely, to make sure you can see the whole show, except maybe those people sitting upstairs.

Really, it is really a large piece of candy corn or cotton candy to sit and laugh about. It can definitely get you in the Halloween mood.

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