BWW Review: PRAIRIE-OKE! -A Little House of Fun, Raunchy HIGH-larity!!!
PRAIRIE-OKE!/written & directed by Dane Whitlock/The Cavern Club @ Casita Del Campo/thru November 22, 2015
Dane Whitlock sharply directs his talented cast in his PRAIRIE-OKE! delivering a fast-paced, 100-minute, high-camp romp full of not-so-subtle double entendres via the not-so-pure underbelly of "Little House on the Prairie" denizens. With characters' names slightly changed for supposedly legality (more probably hilarity) reasons, the main protagonists' names have been altered from 'Laura Ingalls' to 'Lauren Pringells' and 'Nellie Oleson' to 'Mellie Moleson.' (Wink! Wink!)
Whitlock wonderfully repurposes selected hit songs (past and current) to support and further his R-rated tale of small townfolk as Mellie has graduated and been gifted by her parents a hotel/restaurant(a.k.a. whorehouse) to run and Lauren makes her various attempts to transition from a child to a woman. Of course, the good girl (Lauren) and the bad girl (Mellie) happen to have the same object of their attentions in their sights in the form of their teacher Ms. Wildest's newly-arrived hunky brother Alonzo.
The many too-fun stand-out numbers start off with The B-52's "Love Shack," with the most amusing Mitch Silpa as so-far-out-of-the-closet Mr. Moleson, special guest Alison Arngrim (only Nov. 6 & 7) deftly camping it up as the haughty, "get my daughter any man for a husband" Mrs. Molesen and Drew Droege as their deliciously mean girl daughter Mellie. PRAIRIE-OKE!'s version of "Love Shack" takes the original suggestive, but polite lyrics where you've always envisioned them to be with side-splitting, pretty graphic visuals of the lyrics, especially as enacted by the superb Silpa. Later, Droege absolutely slays when Mellie says pre-meal grace on her first 'date' with Alonzo. Droege hysterically and most surprisingly uses the deep Exorcist voice in praying. Toooo funnnny!!!
New-hunk-in-town Alonzo receives full pecs and eight-pack embodiment by Ben Palacios. Palacios grabs his fully-clothed moment on stage leading "Teenage Dreams," with synchronized back-up from Matthew Herrman, Kevin Berntson and Silpa. Palacios doesn't shred his shirt until "I Want to Know What Love Is," his gorgeous duet with equally vocally gifted Libby Baker as Lauren.
Bernston, as Lauren's father, brilliantly functions as the grounding character of PRAIRIE-OKE!, the one straight man for all the others' crazy antics to play against. Bernston perfectly complements the simply wonderful Melanie Hutsell as she effortlessly exhibits the vulnerability and the deeply stifled sensuality of his wife, Caroline, especially in "Sweet Caroline." In their lovely comic and dulcet-toned duet, "Sweet Child of Mine;" Bernston and Hutsell are joined by Baker performing a very exuberant breakdown of hysterics. Lauren just fails at her womanly attempts, though initially encouraged by her teacher Ms. Wildest (a winsome Frances Chewning), but ultimately thwarted by her rival Mellie.
Herrman gives solid support as Alfred, the brother of Lauren, the blind Merry and the epic speaking-disordered Kerry. Quite un-PC, Rae Dawn Hadinger as the blind Merry performing "Through the Eyes of Love" and Penny Wildman as the extremely speech impaired Kerry with her incomprehensible gibbering elicited much guilty laughter. Much! (But note: all her family understood every word Kerry muttered and the family did include both Merry and Kerry in all their outings and dance numbers.)
Kudos to Joseph Corella's inventive, hyper fun choreography handled nimbly by all.
Finale of "Don't Stop Believing" with the entire cast just kills!