Friday, January 20, 2017

Dos Amigos and the Gaslight Way

Posted By on Fri, Jan 20, 2017 at 1:05 PM

If, while you are attending the theater, you hear boos and hisses and drum ba-da-bings indicating groaner jokes, you are probably at the Gaslight Theatre, purveyor of silliness, song and—well, more silliness. For nearly 40 years, the Gaslight has been providing fun live entertainment suitable for you, your children and your grand-pa's-and-ma's in an unapologetic campy way. Those seeking high art and sophistication should go elsewhere.

Running now is Two Amigos, a transmogrified version of a 1986 movie, Three Amigos. Here, two friends (didn't see that coming, did you?) come to town where there's a bully rich man, Comandante Maximo (Todd Thompson), who is interested in taking more than he already has and threatens those who might have a seriously well-honed ethical streak. I can't even remember specifically why these amigos (Jake Chapman and Mike Yarema) were needed. Wait—oh yeah, Maximo is challenging the current good-guy leadership, Enrique Bautista (Jacob Brown.) Of course, there are also some women (played by Janee Page, Heather Stricker and Erin Thompson) involved on both sides of the issue. The plot always features the good guys vs. the bad guys, and, yes, it's the guys, not the gals, that get the most attention in Peter Van Slyke's script.

Besides bringing us very good actor/singers, the Gaslight also feature terrifically conceived and  executed low-tech devices (like escaping on galloping horses that—oh, really, you pretty much have to see to appreciate) and familiar tunes that have also gone through some happy modification. Then musical director Linda Ackermann waves her magic hands over the keyboards and with help from a bassist and drummer coalesces with the actors for some really fine singing and a dance step or two as they convey their Good vs. Evil story. And all this while you are able to eat pizza and munch on free popcorn to your heart's desire.

The Gaslight features a company of regulars who have this stuff down and make it look easy. But that doesn't mean it is. Not only do they do the headline show, but they always have a themed olio, or variety show, which actually gives you an even better idea of the talent and skill of these performers. So don't get up and make for the exit after the Two Amigos clean up the town and save the day. In this show after the show, the "Country Barn Dance," some of our favorite country singers make an appearance (channeled through the cast, of course.)

Now, I do have to say that for the first time in my memory there were a couple of musical numbers that just didn't sound right. The first was the song the Dos Amigos sang right off the bat. It was going along pretty well, but the last phrase of swelling notes sounded flat as a flapjack. Then in the olio, all the men pulled together for a nifty arrangement of a Sons of the Pioneers-type medley. But the harmony got pretty out of whack. It is a vocally complex arrangement of three songs, and the guys just didn't blend well the night I was there.

Truth to tell, Dos Amigos is not really the best show on the Gaslight channel, although actor David Orley is crazy funny in his Lt. Gonzales role. But it's still a mighty fine example of the Way of the Gaslight.

You might not be familiar with Gaslight's new venture in Oro Valley. They call it the Gaslight Music Hall and for several months they have offered a couple of dozen revues, dance parties and even a full blown musical, not one done in the sillier Gaslight style. They've got a line-up offering something for just about everybody and if the Gaslight Music Hall follows the way of its elder sibling in well-done feel-good melodrama, it's sure to find a happy home in the hearts of those seeking more of the Gaslight Way.

Dos Amigos
Presented by The Gaslight Theatre
Various times through March 26
7010 E. Broadway
Run time: 2 hours with intermission

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