If you want a nifty little recipe for escapist humor, look no further than The All American Melodrama Theatre & Music Hall’s “Churley’s Angels.”
Start with a tantalizing concept (a satire on the iconic “Charlie’s Angels”). Fold it in to an outlandish story (Rescue the kidnapped cousin/dance partner of a John Travolta-esque hero so they can win a disco dance-off and use the money for an operation that will cure his hideous disease). Spice it with sweet and savory characters, hilarious dialogue and cunning local references. Stir it up with perfect pacing, frost it with the piano prestidigitation of the peerless Rick Illes, and you have a big serving of Yum. The packed house ate it up, just as we devoured the chilidogs, nachos, and the signature desert, angel’s food cake.
Written and directed by Ken Parks, the production was rollicking, spontaneous, and funny. With the clothes, the hair, and music, the characters of This Seventies Show are memorable and not a little adorable. Who wouldn't care for them and their respective plights? On the Good Side, we have the Angels themselves: The blonde, athletic dynamo one, Sarah Facet (a firecracker, Shannon Fizpatrick); the smart one, Kit Flaxon (a smoldering librarian, Tiffany Moon), and the sophisticated one, Jackie Lynn Smithe (a prototypical Bond girl, Amber Luallen). There’s the wide lapelled, big haired, nicely-accented Tony Velour (Kevin Kem), and the lucky-ducky Mr. John Bossy (David Dean Jr.). On the Bad Side, all by his dastardly, devious, and duplicitous self, we have the unctuous disco owner/villain Rick Sleaze (Parks).
A story to sink your teeth into. Angie Bellagamba has vanished on her way to LA’s hottest dance spot, Studio 45 (Get down in Downey!), where she was to register for a disco dance off. Her partner and cousin Tony desperately needs the $5,000 first prize. He’s afflicted with the BGs (yup, that’s Bee Gees) disease, a condition that makes him sing in a falsetto voice and move his arms like he’s changing a light bulb. Distraught (Yuck, who would want that disease?), he hires the competent and comely Churley’s Angels, formerly of the Long Beach Police Academy. Utilizing some fancy footwork and sleuthing they rescue, not just Angie but Churley (a matchbook-sized squawk box. Who knew?), who had also been nabbed.
Of course we want to know what happens next, though any prior experience with the Melodrama tells us Good will always triumph over Evil. And that’s the fun part, booing, hissing, and awing our way through incident and character development until a resolution that shows the way things should be, even if it’s not necessarily the way things are. We leave content, experiencing the world as we wish it to be, at least for a few hours up there on stage.
Performances are 7:30 Friday & Saturday, 4:30 Saturday, and 7:00pm Sunday. The show runs until May 6. Tickets are $14-$20. The Theatre is located at 429 Shoreline Village Drive, Long Beach. For more information call (562) 495-5900 or visit www.allamericanmelodrama.com.