by Terrance Mc Arthur
Take two American teenagers, bored with nothing to do for summer vacation, and send them to England to fight dragons, rescue damsels, learn to be gentlemen, and break a curse that makes the villagers as rude as…well…Americans. What have you got? Camp Charming, a play by Debbie Metzler (who co-directed with Kay Whistler), now playing at The Enchanted Playhouse in Visalia through October 19.
Teddy (Jacob Budz) and Michael (Nico Rodriguez) find themselves in the chivalry school of Cloella Charming (Amy McKay), taught weaponry by Bogbottom (Greg Storseth), dragon slaying by Max Coward—pronounced like “toward”—(Kelly Ventura), and followed by Odran Gilheany as the hunchbacked servant Lenny, the curse-making Lord Beetledung, and the wizard Merlin.
Budz is a lively young fellow, always entertaining in his Enchanted Playhouse appearances. He finally gets a chance at romance here, which he carries off with fun and laughter. Rodriguez is tall, dark, and handsome…and thin (His nickname is “Nico Suave”). He doesn’t get to do as much of the comedy as Budz, but he has a smoothness that travels well.
Savanna Vernon and Cassidy Jo Fortin are the female love interests, with Vernon willowy and just-out-of-reach and Fortin possessed of a dry wit in her delivery that meshes well with Jacob’s slightly frenetic style. McKay is charming as the headmistress, concerned about the deadline for lifting the town’s curse.
Storseth, Ventura, and Gilheany get to chew up the scenery with over-acting; the sets should be checked for bite marks after each performance. They throw themselves into it so cheerfully that you have to go along with the fun.
There are a lot of scene breaks and set changes, punctuated by music that ranges from Bach’s “Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor” to West Side Story’s “I Feel Pretty” to Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way.” The costumes by Jolene Ringhofer and Marci Lovelady are simple but effective.
Somehow, the play manages to convey a gentle message of courtesy, looking beyond appearances, and not being afraid to try a different way to get things done. It’s pleasant fun, with a happy ending for all.
The Enchanted Playhouse is located at The Main Street Theatre, 307 E Main, Visalia. 7pm performances on Oct. 11-12 and 18-19 are $8 at the box office, $7 online or at outlets. There is a $5 matinee on Oct. 13 at 2pm. For more information, call (559) 739-4600, or go online to enchantedplayhouse.org and the KRL theatre event page.
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