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Weekend pick: Golden Chain Theatre in Oakhurst gets sweetly silly with a melodrama

Looking for a fun show to go with your free popcorn? Golden Chain Theatre in Oakhurst knows a thing or two about melodramas. (It’s been putting them on for 55 years!) The company is presenting a particularly “sweet” one this summer. Here are the details:

The show: “Someone Save My Baby, Ruth! Or, “Foil That Villain!,” by Billy St. John, has all the ingredients of a classic melodrama: a maiden in distress, a gallant hero, a villain, and an immense number of references to candy. (Well, that last one is an ingredient of this particular melodrama.)


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The performance schedule: The show is in its opening weekend. It plays 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays, through July 24. Tickets are $18 general, $15 seniors and $13 for children under 12.

The storyline: As the theater describes it: When lovely young widow Penny Candy and her baby, Ruth, are taken in by her Aunt Praline, owner of The Sweet Shoppe candy store, little does Penny know both love and danger lie ahead. The villainous Sidney Swindle is determined to buy The Sweet Shoppe as part a dastardly get rich plan. With the help of his beautiful (but less than brilliant) cohort in crime, Ada Sourball, the villain sets his evil scheme in motion.

The live music: James Mierkey is at the piano, “silent movie” style.

The candy-bar connection: As I type write this, I’m suddenly hungry for a Baby Ruth. Haven’t had one in years. I was also struck by this thought: What candy bar would a villain most love? When I was a kid, I used to hate Big Hunks, and during Halloween-bag-after-hours commodities trading would unload them for almost anything else. Except Sweetarts. Now those I loathed. (And not just for the taste. Also for its spelling.) So that’s it: the melodrama villain is a Sweetarts addict.

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The ambiance: There’s free popcorn, a full bar and lots of encouragement to get rowdy and boo and applaud at the appropriate moments. In other words, this ain’t the Metropolitan Opera.

Fun fact: Jennifer Olsen, in her directorial debut, cast her husband, Josh, as the villain. “No offense, sweetheart,” I bet she told him. Or is it Sweetart?

Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

donaldfresnoarts@gmail.com

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