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The Drunkard will make you laugh, cheer, jeer

by Gaylin Wyllford

How long has it been since xyou could clearly tell the good guys from the bad guys? When was the last time you booed when the villain came on the scene? Or cheered when the hero defeated him? And whens the last time you recall that the hero actually won?

Canyon Moon Theatre to the rescue! In an effort to simplify your life, Canyon Moon is presenting the musical melodrama, The Drunkard, through June 29. Heres your chance to revel in that rare, unambiguous distinction between good and evil that we havent seen since the first Star Wars movie.

Boo and hiss until your hearts content as you witness the evil shenanigans of the nasty Lawyer Cribbs. Gasp and moan in dismay as Cribbs, when he fails to get his way, takes his revenge on the kindly widow Wilson and her beautiful, kind-hearted daughter, Mary. Cheer in triumph as our hero, Edward, and his valiant foster brother, William, defeat the villain - as you know they must.

Based on a mid-19th century melodrama by W.H.S. Smith, The Drunkard is a damsel-on-the-railroad-tracks morality play, full of laughs, heartache, joy and song. Adapted by Bro Herrod and set to music and lyrics by Barry Manilow (yes, THE Barry Manilow), The Drunkard is more than an evenings delightful entertainment - its a cathartic musical elixir for troubled times.

The lead song, Something Good, begins as the heroines and her mothers simple, hopeful melody. Later, all the principal characters join in, each adding his or her own motif to the mix until a great crescendo of song brings down the curtain at the end of act two. And there are other gems in this score, like the infectious bar song, Have Another Drink, that comes complete with vamping bar girls - and the unlikely, humorous duet between the hero and the villain, A Cup of Coffee.

Then theres the hep, bluesy number, Garbage Can Blues, which Edward sings when hes bottomed out on the streets of the Big City. It all ends happily, of course, with the spirit-raising Salvation Army tune, Do You Wanna Be Saved? and everyone lives happily ever after - well, ALMOST everyone.

With only nine performances and some of Canyon Moons favorite actor/singers, the show is sure to be a sellout. Dr. Eric Tucker of Northern Arizona University once again serves as musical director. His work was heard this past spring in Side By Side By Sondheim, Canyon Moons first production in its new theatre. He has worked as musical director with Canyon Moons producing artistic director, Mary Guaraldi, on several shows, including Youre a Good Man, Charlie Brown and A Grand Night For Singing. Guaraldi and Tucker have assembled a powerhouse cast of singing and acting talent for The Drunkard.

In the role of Edward, our hero, is Nathaniel Hackmann, a student at NAUs School of Music. Hackmann is the young man blessed with the rapturous baritone voice you may have had the pleasure to hear in Side By Side By Sondheim. In Season III, he played the title role in Charlie Brown, having previously debuted in A Grand Night for Singing.

Our heroine, Mary, is delightfully played by Antoinette Torres Tucker, who was lauded for her performance in Canyon Moons Side By Side By Sondheim. With a beautiful voice and a flair for comedy, Torres Tucker makes Mary more than a hapless heroine.

Lawyer Cribbs, the villain, is played by Mike Levin. His last appearance for Canyon Moon was as another unsavory character: the Klan-connected preacher in Season IIIs hit comedy, The Foreigner.

In the role of Marys widowed mother, Mrs. Wilson, is Gale Madsen, who moved to Sedona from the Twin Cities where she performed with Opera St. Paul and in the Bach Society Chorus.

Playing the bartender and other roles is Ben Gorman, last seen in the title role of Canyon Moons last production, The Nerd. He has also appeared in The Foreigner, The Dining Room, and as Schroeder in Youre a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

Cathy Miller last delighted Canyon Moon audiences with her performance in A Grand Night for Singing. Known for her beautiful soprano voice, Miller plays the role of Agnes - the singing Ophelia.

The cast is rounded out by Paula Petrovic as the hatchet-faced Carrie Nation. Petrovic is a member of Southwest Arts in Actions Playback Theatre. Carl Bara, whom audiences will remember from Side By Side By Sondheim, plays William. Austin Combs appears for the first time with Canyon Moon as a bar patron and Salvation Army soldier. Chloe Marcus performs as young Julia.

The Drunkard is family entertainment for difficult times. Come root for the hero and hiss at the villain in this classic tale from the venerable tradition of American melodrama. Sit back and enjoy a simpler time when good and evil knew their places; when, in simple Williams words, Good is good and right is good, but evils not so good, right?

The Drunkard plays at Canyon Moon Theatre, in the Old Marketplace in West Sedona, Thursdays through Saturdays, June 15-29, 7:30 p.m. There is one matinee performance on Sunday, June 23 at 4:00 p.m.

There is no performance on Friday, June 21, as the theatre is hosting the Hot and Bothered Poetry Slam that night. Tickets for The Drunkard are $17 for adults, $10 for full-time students and children 12 years and younger. For more information and to reserve tickets, please call (928) 282-6212 or visit their website (oakcreektheatre.org).

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