'The Shame of Tombstone': (aah!) hugely entertaining Melodrama offers chance to cheer good, censure evil


The Other Little Theater, in its fifth year of residence at the Naval Station on Greenbury Point, has carved out a nice little niche for itself among our local dramatic troupes, and its current production of "The Shame of Tombstone," a hilarious melodrama, is a cute one that deserves an audience.

As folks are reminded at the beginning of the show, melodrama is not a passive genre. Viewers must be prepared to ooh and aah for the heroine, and hiss and boo the villain within an inch of his life. Where else in this touchy-feely age of ethical relativism can we censure evil with such unambiguous elan?

You've got to love the plot.

Amanda Goodsort (aah!), a Boston belle, has journeyed to Tombstone, Ariz., to find employment so that she might support her schoolgirl daughter back in Beantown.

A pillar of Tombstone high society, Amanda must, alas, sing in a sleazy nightspot disguised as the sensuous, mysterious "Masked Canary." Were her identity known, she would be forced to leave town in disgrace.

The unscrupulous Judge Mortimer Harshly (boo!) discovers Amanda's secret and (hiss!) decides to blackmail her with the knowledge that she is the masked singer.

Amanda's daughter, little Victoria (aah!), and her adoring beau, Lt. Pete Bogg (ooh!), are on hand to squelch the judge and his slinky accomplice, Peachy Jamm, and vindicate Amanda for the true saint that she is.

Along the way, one meets a host of colorful characters: Wing Tip, the Asian philosopher; Flora Courtland, Tombstone's matronly busybody; Fifi, Amanda's nubile maid; and the most methuselated old-timer you've ever seen, named, appropriately enough, Old Timer.

Some very funny performances are on display here. Bruce Rogers, an OLT mainstay, is hysterical as (boo!) the judge, and Betsy Garner's Betty Boop voice is just perfect for vapid Little Victoria Goodsort.

You'll also love Ray Girdley as the oh-so-perfect Lieutenant Bogg and Julie Chambers, who gives maid Fifi one of the silliest ooh-la-la walks ever.

The production is handsomely designed; they know from sets over there.

Your ticket also buys you a 20-minute vaudeville introduction to the show. I won't pretend the singing, dancing and joke-telling are of professional quality, but everyone tries hard, and Mr. Girdley's magic left me scratching my head more than once.

I had a ball.

"The Shame of Tombstone" plays at the Other Little Theater in the Recreation Building on the grounds of the Naval Station on Greenbury Point at 8 p.m. tonight and 8 p.m. tomorrow. Call 551-6096, or 293-9200 for ticket information.

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