Bad Day At Black Frog Creek by John Gardiner & Fiz Coleman - directed by Kenton Church
"Supposedly set on Christmas Eve, as a centennial celebration of the founding of Black Frog Creek, this show is part play, part musical but mostly pantomime (or even cartoon-like) without the cross-dressing. However, silly jokes, outrageous characters and audience participation are still part of a recipe which delivered a highly entertaining evening. The set was fantastic, creating an entire timber-framed saloon bar, complete with several entrance/exits, stairs to the upstairs, shelves fully stocked with booze as well as numerous articles stuck on the wall to give the bar authenticity. I was particularly struck that the saloon walls were sufficiently high that the impression was given of a ceiling above - thus there were no telltale stage paraphernalia to spoil the illusion.
The members of the cast were balanced well, one against the other, with great characterization by the four main principals. Joan Lanario's Ma Treacle was a treat, capturing the essence of the warm-hearted cook but who was certainly no pushover. Neil Smith's Big Brad played the Sheriff, who was one point short of a tin star, to a tee. He had sparkle and yet didn't betray his character by letting us in on the secret that he knew we knew he wasn't really like that. His dialogue with Angel Delight was always funny and Maria Dockree must take plenty of credit. She had a very expressive face that could show delight or disappointment. Her slow delivery described the dumb blond wonderfully, her body language was good and her accent was no barrier to understanding in this production since she was indeed playing someone from foreign parts. Jean Speller's Diamond Tooth Lil was excellent, always moving purposefully if only to show us her tongue was firmly in her cheek. The Muldoon Mob was great value, with each character showing a different wacky personality. Filthy Frank (Peter White) had a classic Western drawl as the stinky old gold prospector and I liked the fact that Richard Langley's Yipee Brown was a young and enthusiastic contrast to the older cast members.
The costumes all looked great and the whole atmosphere was one of fun and goodwill. This was a feelgood production that left you with a smile on your lips and an annoying desire to sing "Black Frog, Black Frog Creek". Although this was by no means a blockbuster show it was technically very slick, with the sound effects (eg the spittoon sounds), the backing tracks and lighting changes working seamlessly and at the right time. Congratulations to all for a fun show and an opportunity to involve a few more cast members than is usual."
Stewart Adkins-National Operatic and Dramatic Association