Dum, dum, dummmma (Gasp)…Melodrama comes to Hudson Dinner Theatre

Review by independent reviewer Melanie Nelson

Music, sharp looks, wild set pieces, and over the top performances dance together seamlessly in “Way Out West or The Legend of the Ricochet Kid,” now showing at St. Croix Off Broadway Dinner Theatre located at the Best Western Hudson House Inn.

After a preshow to get audiences set on who the villain and the hero are and what they’re supposed to do when these two guys take the stage, the show opens to a very well choreographed silhouette look at how the evening will unfold. As you might image, it all comes down to a shoot-out and characters falling in love.

Two of those destined for love are a little too dim-witted to realize it. One of the funniest plot lines features Bob 1 and Bob 2, played by Marc Berg and Alexander Swanson, whose journey is about making their one-toothed, low voiced, bearded Momma proud by getting their mugs on a “WANTED” poster just like Bad Guy, played expertly by Mark Bradt. With each bad deed they attempt--hijacking a stage coach, robbing a bank, rustling cattle--they end up thwarting Bad Guy or accidently doing someone a great service.

We are guided through their Wild West adventure by a narrator of sorts who is also the new lawyer in town, played by Daniel Vopava. And we are kept entertained by a host of time tested melodrama shtick; that is, mouths gaping open, eye pokes, engaging the audience, jokes that don’t die, and smart set pieces that become punch lines.

The most memorable of the shtick comes from the flawless accompaniment by Kent Fenske and the occasional Anya Fetcher (she’s also the character Shy Ann in the musical) who steps off stage to assist with drums, whistles, and whatever else. Each of the dramatic steps of the Bob Brothers has its own score, the cackle of the villain has a trill, and shots from the gun of the Ricochet Kid, played by David Wesley Frank, are accented time and time again.

The ensemble is rounded out by Stephanie Thrun, Brittany Oberstadt, and Luke Bradt. The cast is mostly a new one to St. Croix Off Broadway regulars, but they are a tight one. Seated at the next table from me was a pair of couples who’d been to all but one of the dinner theatre performances at the Best Western Hudson House Inn. They laughed until they cried and heckled Bad Guy until I had fresh tears of laughter, too.

What to order…this is dinner theatre after all. You get your choice of smoky applewood salmon, rib-eye steak, chicken with mushroom wine sauce, pork tenderloin, or cheese tortellini. At my table we chose the salmon and rib-eye. I’ve had at least a bite of the beef choice nearly every show I’ve attended, and I’ve got to say this rib-eye was the best I’ve tasted. We didn’t touch the steak sauce, as it would have ruined it. And for intermission dessert I recommend the turtle mousse.

“Way Out West or The Legend of the Ricochet Kid” at St. Croix Off Broadway Dinner Theatre runs Fridays and Saturdays through August 13. The price of $52 includes dinner; coffee, pop, tea, or milk; show; tip; and tax. Matinees are $39 on Saturdays June 25 and August 13 for a noon turkey lunch, which also includes a group dessert, and show at 1PM. Get your tickets by calling 715-386-2394 ext. 333 or order them online at www.stcroixoffbroadway.com.

St. Croix Off Broadway Dinner Theatre

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