Generating a rousing Y’all come back now, hear!, “Beverly Hillbilly’s 90210,” written by Valerie Speaks, directed and with additional jokes by Ken Parks for The All American Melodrama Theater and Music Hall, captures the humor to be found in this hilarious cross-generational spoof of “The Beverly Hillbillies” and “Beverly Hills, 90210.”
Anyone familiar with the Melodrama knows that, as funny, innovative, well-researched, not to mention well produced (perky direction, magnificent scripts, spot-on repertory cast) as each show might be, they’re really about the same thing: the eventual triumph (eventual because otherwise there’d be no story line) of Good (Yay! Aww!) over Evil (Boo! Hiss!). The result is a family targeted, massively entertaining production that resonates even more in this Occupy era with the villain as a wanker banker.
The story begins with the arrival of the Crampetts at their Spelling-esque (200 rooms and counting) Beverly Hills mansion. Granny (Aileen Braun) confuses the cabana for the mansion; and even the cabana’s too posh for her. Give her some squirrels to shoot out of the trees and a stove on the sidewalk and she’s as happy as a slopped pig. Shed (Kevin Kem) takes his sudden and dramatic change in fortune all in stride, while Deathrow (Jonathan Horowitz) and Nelly Mae (Tiffany Moon) are eager to see what the change in environment has to offer. Like any California newby, Deathrow wants to find himself. High school student Nelly Mae wants to fit in with all her new chums who congregate at The Peach Pit. She’s got a beau, Brock (Matt Riggle), who’s her neighbor and a reality show star. A nice touch has Mr. Dryasdust (Parks), their neighbor/banker/overtly nefarious criminal, eager to get his hands on Shed’s $25,000,000,000. In the TV show, he’s just smarmy and covetous. Dryasdust’s occasion to pilfer Shed of his petrodollars occurs during a wager placed on the winner of – what else? - The Long Beach Grand Prix. At the end, Dryasdust finds himself poorasdirt, thanks to Granny’s chemical prowess; Deathrow finds his calling; and Nelly Mae discovers that she and Brock have more in common than a shared fence.
Even with paper-thin characterizations, the performances ensure that you will adore the Crampetts as much as you despise Dryasdust. Kem’s Shed is the epitome of backwoods wisdom. Reflective and folksy, he has the consoling voice of an airplane pilot addressing his passengers before takeoff. Resourceful, ornery, and delightfully unimpressed by the opulence in which she finds herself, Braun’s pipe-smoking Granny is a firecracker, as befits the feisty brewer of Mountain Dew, her potent, multipurpose moonshine. Horowitz’s Deathrow is enthusiastic and eager to find his way in the new world he inhabits while Hubbard’s dewy Nelly Mae wants nothing more than to meld in with her new high school friends (Can you imagine an encounter between Shannon Doherty’s Brenda Walsh and Braun’s Granny?) Riggle’s Brock could have been a snotty, nose-in-the-air snob but for Nelly Mae’s sake and ours, he wasn’t. Moon’s Ms. Plain was intriguingly demure and, as it happens, not a little devious herself.
The production works the conflict of simple, caring, and sincere homespun folks who find themselves in, not just any big city but Beverly Hills (think: duplicity, deceit, and dastardliness). Just the show’s idea is funny; and some of the lines, such as the disappointment that descriptive labels at the zoo don’t include recipes, are priceless.
Performances are 7:30PM Friday & Saturday, 4:40PM Saturday, and 7:00PM Sunday. The show runs until March 4. Tickets are $20. The Theater is located at 429 Shoreline Village Drive, Long Beach, 90802. For more information call (562) 495-5900 or visit ww.allamericanmelodrama.com.