Two weeks before the opening of the Golden Chain Theatre's latest melodrama, "The Shame of Tombstone," actor Devin Faucette was just hanging around enjoying summer. That all changed when Darrell Collard, playing the lead role of villain Judge Mortimer Harshley, had to leave the theatre and Oakhurst due to a job transfer, leaving a huge void in the cast.
That's when Faucette, 24, got the emergency call to quickly fill in for Collard.
Director Carol Kovach said the role of the villain was a different character than the routine villain.
"Harshley was much sneakier and conniving than anything Devin has played before,' Kovach said. "Devin worked hard on the character and his lines and he quickly became part of the team. He filled a big void in the play taking on this major role on very short notice and gives a strong and entertaining performance."
Faucette, a single father to his three-year-old daughter, has been in eight productions at the Golden Chain and finds acting euphoric.
"I've always been passionate about acting," Faucette said. When he was four, he used to direct other children in backyard productions at his apartment complex in San Diego.
"Having the ability to to get lost in a character and leave all your troubles behind for the night is the magic that is theatre. I've always wanted to act and hope to get to Hollywood some day."
Faucette has played villains and unsavory cads since he was 15.
"I don't want to play these roles forever ... I've read for other parts, but more often than not I'm going to be the tall, dark, brooding go-to villain," Faucette said.
Faucette said the role of Judge Harshley was a challenge.
"I used the cape almost as an appendage, sneakily draping it over my body to represent that my walls are up, I have secrets and your not getting in," Faucette said. "I did not consider this role as a villain in the evil sense, but as a wise acting cad down and out on his luck just trying to improve his life."
The play centers around a singer, "The Masked Canary," at Tombstone's saloon, "The Lucky Cuss," and Amanda Goodsort (Karah Varner), a wealthy respected citizen of the town. One of Goodsort's dear friends is Flora Courtland (Venessa Willard), leader of the ladies who want to rid the town of the Canary.
As the red velvet curtain opens, Little Victoria Goodsort (Brittany Steinberg) is grown up and coming to visit her mother, a revered member of Tombstone society.
When Judge Harshley (Faucette) and his associate, saloon girl Peachy Jamm (Julie O'Brien), discover a secret about Goodsort, a blackmail plot is hatched.
The production features many young actors and actresses with little or no stage experience, including Varner, 17, a senior at Minarets High School, playing Amanda Goodsort.
"Karah playing the role of an older woman was a real achievement for her and I am very impressed with her," Kovach said. "She is so graceful, beautiful and elegant and has a great stage presence."
"Although I have been involved in dinner theater productions at sierra Pines Church, this is a premier role for me and I am enjoying the experience immensely," Varner said. "
With her love of animals, Varner has been active in 4H and FFA for many years and is currently serving as the second vice president of the Minarets FFA Club. Acting has become a recent passion for her.
I was always known to be quiet and a bit shy as a child, but my involvement in public speaking has opened new opportunities for me and I have found that I really enjoy being on stage, especially a stage with as much culture and history as the golden Chain Theatre."
Varner said the wealth of acting and directing knowledge she has received at the Golden chain helped her greatly in her role as Amanda Goodsort.
Another Minarets student, Natalia Travers, plays the role of Fifi, Goodsort's French maid.
"Playing the role of a French maid is not easy, but after gaining her confidence she came through and became a credible 'Oh La La' French maid," Kovach said.
"The production has a lot of funny lines, an unusual plot, and the large number of characters in the play with wonderfully energetic actors makes "The Shame of Tombstone" very entertaining for the audience," Kovach said.
Other cast members include Lonely Wolf, an Ivy League-educated scout (Jesse Parr); Lt. Pete Bogg (William O'Brien), the hero; cantankerous Ol' Timer (Courtland Johnson); Sidekick (Larry Maddox); Oriental gentleman, Wing Tip (J.R. Romero); heroine little Victoria Goodsort (Brittany Steinberg); and mystery woman (Dominique Pierce).
Pianist is Deborah Wenger and Bobbi Hinton was head of wardrobe.
The Grub Gulch Garter Girls open the show with a can-can, the Grub Gulch Grannies dance to "Dem Bones" and the Garter Girls dance to "Buffalo Gals."
Tickets cost $12 for adults, $10, 55 and older, $8 for active military and 13-18 years old, $6, 4-12 years old. Group rates are available.
The play runs Saturdays and Sundays through through Sept. 23.
The Golden Chain Theatre, "located 200 years and two miles north of Oakhurst," is celebrating its 45th season this year.
The next production is the musical revue "I Can't Believe That Didn't Win a Tony," which runs Saturdays and Sundays, Oct. 6-21.
Details: Reservations and information, (559) 683-7112, goldenchaintheatre.org.