By Mia Proli Gable
Arizona Daily Wildcat
The actor who plays Sonny Montana can't sing, but it doesn't really matter with all the booing, hissing and cheering of the audience to drown him out in the Gaslight Theater's newest production, "Sonny Montana Singing Cowboy the Fastest Gun in the East!"
Its like any other old story of the rough-and-tumble, wild, wild west. Our hero, Sonny Montana (David Fanning), is a traveling cowboy performer originally from Kalamazoo, Mich. He sings tunes while displaying his gun-wielding abilities. According to this musical, Sonny arrives in Cactus Point, Ariz., in the spring of 1895 to perform the last show of his tour. It is here where Sunny falls in love and saves Flynn's Firehouse Saloon and Hotel from the evil and conniving Sheriff Ross Boyd (Cameron Martin).
This production is riddled with clich‚s. The good guy wears white and the bad guy wears black, right on down to their guns and cowboy boots. Of course, the good guy gets the girl. Even though this is a Western, a servant gets involved, only it's the maid that did it, not the butler. It is the clich‚s that the audience expects and really gets into in the typical melodramatic productions put on by the Gaslight Theater.
Under the direction of William Damron Jr., the actors appear to be having a good time. Unfortunately, they seem to think the musical is more of a joke than the audience does.
Hardly any of the actors seem believable as their characters, especially Sonny's love interest, Theadore "Teddy" Flynn (Betsy Kruse). Kruse does have one of the best singing voices in the cast, but as far as portraying Teddy convincingly, she is lacking. Kruse's character portrayal is disjointed and hard to follow. The script calls for her character to sing that she wants to be in love and then to refuse our hero's advances soon afterward, but Kruse does not convince the audience of her character's conflicting emotions. The play raises issues of frontier feminism, but they are left unresolved.
The bad guys are the funniest part of the show, especially Dusty Trails (Joe Cooper), a real-life Pig Pen who becomes engulfed in dust every time someone hits him on the back. Paired with Martin and the maid, Shannon Flynn (Patrice Spangler), this villainous trio adds slapstick comedy to the musical, as well as sneering glances to the boos and hisses of the audience
All in all, the Gaslight Theater's production of "Sonny Montana" is just plain goofy. The scenery adds to the atmosphere of the already Westernized theater, inviting the audience to become part of the show, which is encouraged as well as appreciated.
The musical is short Ä about an hour and a half long Ä with the first act longer than the second. The length makes it a bearable evening to those who might not be too fond of melodramatic, Western musicals or those tourists and relatives who flock to Tucson for a glimpse of how the west was won. Yeehaw!
"Sonny Montana Singing Cowboy the Fastest Gun in the East!" plays through March 25. For more information, call the Gaslight Theater at 886-9428.
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