The Melodrama, a yearly Santa Fe Playhouse production for Fiesta de Santa Fe, takes all the happenstance, intrigue and idiosyncracies of a year in Santa Fe and satires it—100 years in the past.
It's almost too much to envision the lovely and lewd Zoey Villa (Melissa Pippin-Carson) becoming as worn out and, dare I say, tired as Madeline Kahn's Lili Von Shtupp character in Blazing Saddles. And watching Juana Rolla Doobie (Shawna Howley/Helana Aguiar) become Fiesta queen through a history quiz reminiscent of Cheech & Chong's "Let's Make a Dope Deal" skit is an all-too-familiar reminder of just how absurd the whole Fiesta process can sometimes be.
"It's Gov. Richardson's swan song," co-director Eliot Gray Fisher said in a recent interview, and the character of Gov. Beard Richerman (played brilliantly by 14-year-old Tommy Roman), succeeds not only in legalizing marijuana "for medicinal purposes only" (as the audience is frequently, and facetiously, reminded) but also in using government funds to pad the pockets of his cabinet and almost running off to Cuba (the country, not the town).
It's an amusing, if borderline excessive, blend of political satire and good-natured Fiesta fun (as good melodrama should be), though not without its problems. The uproarious audience (which is encouraged, I might add) at times drowned out some of the quieter actors' lines, or the action on stage ground to an awkward halt as the cast was forced to await the end of a particularly boisterous fit of laughter. And the dance routines, while light-hearted and amusing, were still a bit rough around the edges. Still, for community theater, you work with what you can get.
Oh, and the Fiesta council was present. Watching the disco dance party for Juana's inauguration as Fiesta queen was both humorous and painful, but seeing the real Fiesta queen get lifted on stage to participate in the dance? Priceless.