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The Drunkard makes a melodramatic return at Golden Chain

The conniving villain Squire Cribbs (Erik Sotelo) is not pleased by what the flamboyant Sophia Spindle (Makenzie Hagerman) has to tell him in a scene from The Drunkard, now playing at the Golden Chain Theatre Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through June 18.
The conniving villain Squire Cribbs (Erik Sotelo) is not pleased by what the flamboyant Sophia Spindle (Makenzie Hagerman) has to tell him in a scene from The Drunkard, now playing at the Golden Chain Theatre Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through June 18. Special to Sierra Star

To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Golden Chain Theatre, a nine-show run of The Drunkard - the first melodrama performed by GCT in 1968 - opened June 2.

The original temperance-based melodrama (boo the villain, swoon for the heroine), written by Raymond Hull, had its grand opening at P.T. Barnum’s mini ‘world’s fair’ in New York in 1844. Barnum, of Barnum and Bailey Circus fame, produced the show that first appeared as “a moral domestic drama of American life.”

Knowing how The Drunkard was first produced by Barnum, inspired a circus-like atmosphere for this show, complete with a little circus sideshow similar to a circus midway in the 1800s as you enter the lobby - complete with a Satyr (half woman - half goat) in a cage, a delightful mermaid, a fortune teller, a headless man and siamese twins.

Erik Sotelo and Robert Britt are splitting show performances as the black-caped villain everyone loves to hate, the evil and conniving Squire Cribbs, and each does a great job playing Cribbs who spends most of his time deceiving the play’s hero, Edward Middleton, played by Cristien Dunkle. Dunkle does an outstanding job in transforming from an honorable husband and father with unquestionable character to a man who gains an attraction to whiskey thanks to Cribbs.

The sweet and devoted heroin, Mary Wilson Middleton, is played by Katherine Morphew.

The old saying, ‘good things come in small packages,’ couldn’t be truer of 4-foot-9 Makenzie Hagerman who plays the flamboyant Sophia Spindle, a woman consumed by her beauty. The 26-year-old also added her share of comic relief playing Professor Einstein in the recent production of Arsenic and Old Lace.

The 2009 Yosemite High graduate likes her role because she gets to play a character who is grandiose in everything, like her hair style, her clothing and her movements.

“I love playing quirky and unique characters, and there is no doubt that Miss Spindle is unique,” Hagerman said.

In only her second Golden Chain production, Emma Prescott, 12, plays the Middleton’s sweet daughter, Julia.

Prescott said she really likes musicals, but also enjoys playing angry or sad characters. She was able to produce ‘real’ tears in a touching scene with her mother Mary.

“I like the variety of characters I get to play and making friends with all the cast members,” Prescott said.

Teena Hagerman’s beautifully costumed Dance Fusion Crew, a nine-member dance team ranging in age from 11 to 27, performed three quirky, circus themed modern jazz routines in between scenes.

The group is made up of teachers Jennifer Moore and Karen Urrutia Mickler, along with their students Lindsay Martin, Emma Bloodworth, Madison Larmay, Zoe Cordle, Audrey Scott, Keara Mellon, and Hailey Anderson.

Moore, the 22-year-old daughter of Teena Hagerman who has been dancing since the age of 5, performed an impressive aerial silk routine during the show’s intermission. And yet another Hagerman, Chase, plays the upstanding William Dowton in the play.

Lyric Gianna was the play’s costume designer, first sketching and then creating each whimsical Victorian costume.

Details: The Drunkard, directed by Cynthia McFann, Rated G. Golden Chain Theatre, 42130 Highway 41, Oakhurst. Friday and Saturday 7 p.m., Sunday 2 p.m., June 9 - 18. general admission, $15 - seniors, $12 - www.goldenchaintheatre.org - (559) 683-7112.

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