The Magnificent Moorpark Melodrama and Vaudeville Co. is nothing if not timely. The current production, "Lucky Dollar, Private Eye," has opened just in time to capitalize on the publicity surrounding a road company production of the Broadway hit "City of Angels" in Los Angeles.
(The Moorpark group's last production, you might recall, was a "Phantom of the Opera" parody.)
As might be expected, "Lucky Dollar" is set in Los Angeles. It's contemporary, to judge from some timely references, though the characters look and talk as though they're from the '30s or '40s.
The plot is definitely mid-century, having something to do with the search for something called the Pearl of Persia. Steve Robertson directed Tim Kelly's script, with original songs by Ole Kittleson and Arne Christensen and one not-so-original song ("Sooner or Later" from the "Dick Tracy" soundtrack) by Stephen Sondheim.
One of the Melodrama's less-inspired productions, "Lucky Dollar" typically spotlights several gifted singing actors. As usual for this type of show, the most interesting characters are the bad--or at least marginal--guys. Here, beady-eyed David Shukiar stands out as ferret-like Joe Weasel, and Katrina Stovald turns in a very funny performance as a domestic named Conchita.
Dylan White plays Lucky Dollar; Kimberly L. Decker and Robin Silberman co-star as femmes fatale Claire Mintworth and Pandora Sugarland, and Richard Zamaitis lurks menacingly as black-sheep brother Seabrook Mintworth.
This edition's post-melodrama revue is a tribute to the '40s, wherein cast members don snazzy costumes (credited to co-producer Linda Bredemann) and perform tunes including "I'll See You in My Dreams" (1924), "You Made Me Love You" (1913) and the Manhattan Transfer version of Weather Report's "Birdland"--authenticity doesn't count for much in these shows.
Tim King, credited as musical director, seems to spend most of his time during the show changing floppy discs in the synthesizer that generates previously recorded accompaniment. Although well-enough done, like most synthesizers, it sounds cheesy and prohibits spontaneity. The Melodrama's a lot more fun with a real band, even if it's just a pianist and drummer.
* WHERE AND WHEN
"Lucky Dollar, Private Eye" plays Thursdays through Sundays at the Magnificent Moorpark Melodrama and Vaudeville Co., 45 E. High St. Show times are 7 p.m. Thursdays and Sundays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, with a Saturday matinee at 3 p.m. Tickets are $10, or $7.50 for senior citizens and children on all shows except Friday and Saturday nights, with group rates available for all performances except Saturday nights. For reservations or information, call 529-1212.