In “Yo Ho Ho Ho: A Pirate Christmas,” at The All American Melodrama Theater, duty, in the form of Eve (Full name, Christmas Eve – Amber Luallen), calls Jack Narrow (Matt Riggle), a retired pirate, into action.
The dastard Hector Mimosa (Ken Parks), Jack’s former companion in crime, has stolen Santa’s naughty or nice list. With his chum, No Beard (Eric Modyman), Jack leaves his mother Ruth’s (Dawn Stahlak) boarding house (The Nobody’s Inn) and boards his ship, the Minnie Pearl (“How-dee!”), to save Christmas.
The production brims with heroes, heroines, and villains. It conflates a pirate’s tale and a Christmas caper, and it succeeds: we are enchanted, humored and brought together for a raucous afternoon the week before Christmas.
The story presents the funny characters and entertaining plot that we’ve come to expect from Parks, who wrote and directed the production. It offers puns and quips that, if you didn’t write them down, you’d otherwise miss. Among pearls were his father’s name (Captain Morgan, the rum hound) and the site of a prior visit (The Isle of Lucy). It involves a noble quest, complications, and, because it’s a melodrama, a satisfactory ending. Naturally Good beats Evil, the Hero gets the Heroine; but we experience several plot twists and a surprise ending to keep you on your seat’s edge, if you haven’t already fallen off it already from laughter.
From show to show, each character has a different actor. From bow to stern, Saturday afternoon’s performances are outlandish. Riggle makes Jack both a feared pirate and a mama’s boy. Luallen’s elvish Eve would be as much the apple of the eye of the Garden of Eden’s Adam as she is of Jack’s. As befits a melodrama villain, Parks’ Mimosa is nefarious, vain, and ill-fated. Modyman’s No Beard plays both sides and loses all. And the show-stopping, foot-stomping Dawn Stahlak’s Ruth provides both the thunder and the lighting to the afternoon’s merriment.
In Parks’ script, the characters don’t just respond to each other, they also respond to the audience: their laughter and their comments provide opportunities for improvisation. This connects us to the characters, making their story our story, which is heightened at the end when it turns out that the whole story turns into a a family reunion. At the end, the audience felt like family too.
Scripted or unscripted, the dialogue was brisk. Always funny, it carried the story along, with the same ups and downs that made us feel as if we were on deck a ship at sea.
The minimal set establishes focuses your attention on the dialogue and actors’ gestures and makes you marvel, again, how the Melodrama Theater manages to do so much with so little. Mention, must be made of pianist Rick Illes’ ability to control, if not enhance, the action enacted on the stage.
Performances are 7:30 PM, Fri. & Sat., 4:30 PM, Sat., and 7 PM, Sun. The show runs until Jan. 2. Tickets are $14-20). The Theater is located at 429 Shoreline Village. For more info call 495-5900 or visit www.allamericanmelodrama.com.