It's 1844 and evil has overtaken a tavern in the small coastal town of Monterey, California. Montague Leech and his cohorts have gotten themselves into some shady business. Young men's drinks are being spiked with drugs that knock them out. When these men wake up, they are being shanghaied to China on ships. However, complications to the wicked plan occur when actor Jack Swan comes to town and wants to start a theater.
"Dark Deeds at Swan's Place," written by Tim Kelly, will kick off the Golden Chain Theatre's summer melodrama season this weekend 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. The play will be directed by Jason Turner and Nathan Avery both new directors to the Golden Chain.
Turner has been involved in theater since high school and has even directed plays, but this will be the first melodrama he's helped direct at the Golden Chain. Turner met his wife, Jenny, at the Golden Chain years ago when she was 15 and he was 18. Years later, they have found themselves back there again.
"Jenny and I got involved again a year ago, because we were waiting for the kids to graduate and needed something to do," Jason said.
At first, Jason just helped building sets. Later, he found himself acting again. In January he was named president of the Golden Chain Theatre's Board of Directors. Jenny is also a board member and artistic director at the theatre. With a rich background in theater Jenny has a degree in theater and studied Shakespeare in London the Turners hope to do big things at the Golden Chain.
"My wife and I had a vision of how it could be," Jason said. "We're trying to bring it back to what we remember a full house with good plays. We've been building a community back up of people passionate about production and "Harvey" (play) kind of kick-started it."
Jason said they've invited a lot of actors back that used to be involved in the theatre, and he said they've had a good response.
"It's really exciting and just fun," Jason said. "We're starting the theatre over from scratch."
They're doing everything they can to revamp the theatre everything from cleaning the carpets to improving aesthetics. Jason said now some people are at the theatre working on sets 17 hours a day.
"It's exciting how people are jumping on board," Jason said.
Avery has also been at the theatre a little over a year. He began by doing technical support and set building, then started acting again. Avery first got involved in theater 14 years ago in high school. He later took acting classes at Fresno City College and did some plays with Richard Hoffman at "Frontrow Theater Company."
"Originally what I liked about it (acting) was the chance just to be someone other than yourself," Avery said. "These characters could be something absolutely ridiculous or tragic or funny it's a chance to step out of your self and see what you can do."
Although directing is new for Avery and he says it is harder than he expected, he's been enjoying the experience.
"Directing is an entirely new because it encompasses everything," Avery said. "I had vision of this play ... and seeing everything come to fruition is a great experience. Trying to get everyone to work together and see your vision and have everything come together has been a wonderful experience."
Avery stumbled across the Dark Deeds play after reading more than 20 melodramas. A former U.S. Navy sailor, Avery liked the nautical premise of the melodrama. Avery said the melodrama is also very different from most.
"Most villains have a black hat and hook and the hero is masculine and by an act of shear luck saves day," Avery said. "I liked this one because everyone has their moment to shine. It's something different this community hasn't seen and isn't the stylized drama the Golden Chain has done for years."
Tony Beguez has been an actor at the Golden Chain for three years and says it's nothing but fun and like a big family. Beguez will play the hero Jack Swan in Dark Deeds.
"I like how he's not a typical hero," Beguez said. "You usually think of one as a manly man, but he's very theatrical."
Beguez is excited about the quality of the play and credits it to the directors.
"They want this play to be larger than life and it's going to be," he said. "Everybody is working so hard and this play is going to be something else."
"It's not your standard melodrama," Jason said. "Hopefully people don't feel obligated to cheer on the hero and boo the villain, but do so because they want to. We're trying to give it everything we've got, and it's like a Disney movie. It's fun."
The play will run June 15 through July 28 7 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m., Sunday June 16 and 30, and July 14 and 28. The Golden Chain Theatre is located two miles north of Oakhurst across from the Hounds Tooth Inn. Reservations: (559) 683-7112. Details: www.goldenchaintheatre.org" target="_blank" www.goldenchaintheatre.org
"It's not your standard melodrama. Hopefully people don't feel obligated to cheer on the hero and boo the villain, but do so because they want to.