I’ve been running all over town to catch what’s onstage and there’s a stockpile of fantastic shows waiting to be seen–beginning with what I just saw at the Ramrod Center for The Performing Arts! I nearly laughed myself into insanity at what Ryan Landry and his GOLD DUST ORPHANS have rustled up: BROKELAHOMO! It’s “Brokeback Mountain” crossed with “Oklahoma” and the result is a musical cowboy fantasy on speed, hot off the hyper-inventive brain of writer Ryan Landry. The show is simply one of their most hilarious, tightly directed (Robin Javonne Smith), well-sung tour-de-fabulous-forces ever, and this isn’t their first rodeo. The Orphans have been doing their satirical best on a shoestring for years and BROKELAHOMO hits all its marks.
The plot is nuts, irrelevant and irreverent, a wild and wacky thread to pull us through the merriment and mayhem. There’s tough-minded railroad tycoon Vienna (Ryan Landry) who declares, “When you have a town full of bloodthirsty gays you’ve got to be hard!” You get the drift– this isn’t a show for the kiddies. Along with the lethal puns, this western is packin’ a killer cast: there’s gunslinger Ringo Pink who wants to put up a toll booth at the cattle crossing. Ringo is the dynamic Scott Martino who struts his stuff in sequins and is also the perennial creator of these outlandish, outre costumes which include a chorus line of bald eagles and tutu-clad coyotes.
There’s the cackling Emma Smalls (Julee Antonellis in her Orphans debut) who’s bullying the town into submission with her hold on the bank AND the bakery. Enter Dusty Roads the new straight arrow of a sheriff without a gun in town, played by Jeff Blanchette as a goofball with a
clear, gorgeous tenor. He falls hard for the slinky Frenchie Pissoire (Qya Marie) a tall and trans drink of water with a powerhouse voice. Sprinkle in a love triangle involving Sundance (Sam Geoghegan), Buck Wilde (Sam Terry), and Lily White (Tayrn Lane– amazing voice), a stampeding herd of cattle, rambunctious injuns, the muppets, a charming canine called Marlene (Ryan’s exceptionally versatile pup Rhoda in yet another doggedly deadpan performance), whipcrack pacing, hysterical choreography, a slurry of sets ranging from sleek photos to cardboard cutouts, and a passel of political agendas: animal rights, affordable housing, gun control, and a school for the blind– and you’ve got yourself a rollicking rodeo of a night where no one and nothing gets hurt– unless you laugh until your sides– or your pants– split.
This production is so full of heart and so in charge of its tone, that it managed to seamlessly mix into the raucous hijinks a poignant and pointed tribute to actor Larry Coen, an Orphan and beloved actor all over town who left us all too soon this year, and to whom this show is dedicated. See BROKELAHOMO through May 27 at MACHINE.