Well, maybe next year.
While browsing the local social media sites, I saw an audition notice for the upcoming production of the Cambria Follies. This annual extravaganza, produced as part of the Pinedorado festival sponsored by the Lions Club, features enthusiastic locals who leap at the chance to stretch out and share their inner diva.
The shows feature a tangle of plotlines that loosely follow local goings-on and are rife with inside jokes, awful puns, and ersatz re-imaginings of popular tunes.
The audition notice described the upcoming production as a retelling of the classic movie “The Wizard of Oz” with a Cambria twist. Hence, the name – “The Wizard of CambriOZ.”
I wondered quietly to myself , “what other movie might lend itself to a Cambria twist?” A few came to mind.
In the Cambria version, there are sixteen Javerts to one Valjean. And everyone sings like Russell Crowe – a happy coincidence! Musical numbers include a nod to our local eateries with Valjean soaring through the prayerful “Bring Him Scones.” Local politics get a rousing sendup in “Do You Hear The People Scream,” with ratepayers waving giant replicas of their water bills. The passionate “I Dreamed A Dream” is delivered by a powerful woman standing fiercely center stage as the ensemble slowly circles her on skateboards. A mirthful couple adds comic relief with a sassy take on “Master of The House,” except it will be tough to follow and sure to annoy a good part of the audience. Still working on how to fit in “Hearst Castle On A Cloud.”
The Princess Bride
The classic William Goldman tale is a fantastic candidate for the Follies treatment. The characters are Cambria-perfect, with everything from a good-hearted brute to a semi-retired wizard, a scheming consort, and a gaggle of townsfolk eager for something – anything – to perk up their static lives. Sadly, they can only get glimpses of what goes on twice a month. Add in a single-minded revenge-seeker, and prepare for hilarious hijinks.
The title character is a vision of loveliness, captured by an evil and cowardly king who is plotting to marry, then murder her in a scheme to gain power and dominion over neighboring tracts. For some reason, the princess’s name changes at random times during the story. Hello, metaphor!
Westley, our hero, traveled across endless miles of brine in pursuit of his true love, arriving amidst the lush green hills in time to see his beloved readying to marry (unwillingly) the creepy king. (Song – It’s Always Fire Season When You Are Near.)
Newly-created musical numbers include The Princess singing “Say My Name…No, The New One.” The scheming king soft-shoes through his show-stopping “I Got Connections.” Hero Westley joins the revenge-seeking Inigo and the lovable giant in a close-harmony lament, “My Heart is a Sensitive Habitat,” flowing into the 11 o’clock number “This I Will Never Permit.” The townsfolk get their chance to voice displeasure in the boisterous “Is It Thursday Yet???”
Is very strange. I have been in the revenge business so long, now that it’s over, I don’t know what to do with the rest of my life.
Have you ever considered piracy? You’d make a wonderful Dread Pirate Roberts. If that doesn’t work, you can retire to Cambria and continue your skewering.
Mean Girls – Senior Class
What could be more appropriate than the Tina Fey-penned romp “Mean Girls?”
In the original story, a young girl, newly arrived in town, is dropped into high-school hell. She learns to co-exist with a whole new ecosystem, ruled by a cadre of girls who display all the disfunction of insecurity, entitlement, and down-right meanness.
In the retelling, we see these characters many years later. They may have aged, but have they grown up? The characteristics that made them mean girls show up in their interactions and attitudes as they saw through norms and niceties to score points against a group of folks just trying to do the best they can.
The oddball characters from the original have also stayed true to who they are, using their uniqueness to bring positive energy to the community. In the final telling, the outsider, having attempted to fit in with the meanies, learns that her true self is good, kind, and trusted by the community.
Musical numbers include the fiery anthem “Outraged and Loving It!,” the tender ballad “What Did I Get Myself Into,” and the disco-themed “I Will Advise.” The audience receives souvenir giant red mute buttons to mash during the dance break, which will last exactly three minutes.
The mean girls don’t give up, leaving a path open to the next sequel – “Mean Girls – Meaner Than Hell.”
I will sit by the phone, waiting for the call from a hot-shot producer or a top tier agent. Just not my former agent Ray, who, when asked what he thought of one of my musicals, replied (in a voice familiar to many theater hopefuls) I HATED IT!!!