Wednesday, March 27, 2019

OnStage Playhouse Switches Channels With “Bullshot Crummond”

Following on the heels of OnStage Playhouse’s excellent and emotionally riveting production of Terrence McNally’s 1987 “Frankie & Johnny in the Clair de Lune”, the powers that be have made a one-hundred and eighty degree turn with and old (read dated) off the wall crazy (read insane) ‘adventure romp’ called “Bullshot Crummond”

It took five, count them; Ron House, Alan Sherman, Diz White, John Neville Andrews, and Derek Cunningham to come up with this high energy nonsensical parody/pulp fiction frolic based on an idea by Ron House and Ditz White.

Jeff Hillman and Astrid Pett
Program notes tell us that the 1933 play was scheduled to be directed by Alfred Hitchcock as an international adventure thriller called “Bulldog Drummond Baby” base on the pulp fiction novels by H.C. McNeile. But the rights were denied because it was felt Hitchcock could not make a good enough film.  

Hitchcock went on to rewrite it as “The Man Who Knew Too Much”(1934). That story ultimately became one of the most successful films of his early career.

Trying to make any sense of this particular gobbledygook will require more than the large magnifying glass Sherlock Holmes carries around. This little ditty takes the audience on what might resemble 'The Mad Hatter’s Ride' at Disneyland.

But for s****and giggles lets go!

Bad guys Van Brunno ‘the second most dangerous man in Europe’ and his mate in crime Lanya Van Brunno are on a quest to kidnap professor Rupert Fenton. He’s the mad cap (think ‘Nutty Professor’) who invented the formula for a synthetic diamond. They want the formula so they can take over the international diamond market. Both actors embrace their characters and look like they are having the most fun.

Joshua Kent and Katelyn Slater
To start off this loong tale (the show has a needless intermission) the Van Brunno’s plane crashes down in England while on route to find the good professor, silence him, do whatever it takes to get the formula. They arrive bringing danger for everyone concerned. It (danger) lurks around every bush, corner, rock and crevice. 

They plunge and plunder ahead!

But getting from point A, the plane crash to point B, where all’s well that ends well for the ‘good guys’, “(Typical Bolshevik coward. Running when he’s beaten.”) we have to follow the comings and goings of a clueless detective, “Bullshot” Crummond, a crazy car chase scene that is a barrel of fun to watch, (director Paul Morgavo got that one right), a sword fight, a damsel in distress, faster than the eye can see costume changes with actors playing more than one role, a pet (puppet) falcon named Fritz who kills a carrier pigeon carrying an important message… and I could go on, but no need.
Jeff Hillman and Astrid Pett
Joshua Kent and Katelyn Slater

 OnStage and Morgavo can boast of a fine young cast including a host of typical minor characters played by Russell Clements, (Algy, a friend of Crummonds, the country policeman, a waiter, an inspector, and Von Brunno’s henchman Marovitch).

 All do yeoman’s work especially with Lisa Burgess’ period costume changes on set designer Duane McGregor’s versatile for fast appearances and disappearances, set. The entire ensemble deserves kudos for their energetic and full throttled participation.

Joshua Kent and Jeff Hellman
No credit for projections but Mio Rose’s lighting design makes the world of difference in this slightly out of the dark into the sometimes, lightweight production.

Rosemary Fenton as the damsel in distress is smart enough to fool Crummond and sly enough to help him without taking credit. She’s the Professor’s daughter and one had to wonder which of the two had the brains? Astrid Pett seems well suited as Ms. Fenton, going along with any of Crummond's chauvinistic rhetoric.

Russell Clements and Jeff Hillman
 Hugh”Bullshot” Crummond, (Jeff Hillman) thinks of himself as a ‘dashing young daredevil’ and looks danger in the eye as if it’s fun and games. He is perfect as the big suave, (“I smell intrigue”) no clue Crummond, whose sexist, male superior attitudes and talking points give serious thought as to how far we’ve not come since the 30’s.

If you are up to some farce, good, bad or indifferent, as some in the audience were, have a go at it. It might just tickle your funny bone. 

For yours truly, I’ll take Hitchcock (except “The Birds”) anytime.

See you at the theatre.

Dates: Through April 20th
Organization: OnStage Playhouse
Phone: 619-442-7787
Production Type: Comedy/Farce
Where: 291 Third Avenue, ChulaVista, CA 91912
Ticket Prices: $22.00
Photo: Daren Scott

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