The show goes on hilariously at Pickleville Playhouse

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the original musical melodrama "Finding the Fickle Fortune" is now being performed at the Pickleville Playhouse, albeit with extra precautions to protect of the health of its audiences.

GARDEN CITY – It would be easy to think that “Finding the Fickle Fortune” at the Pickleville Playhouse here only seems like a great little show because it’s the first live theater that anybody has seen in northern Utah since mid-March.

Easy, but also entirely wrong.

“Finding the Fickle Fortune” seems like a great little show because it is a great little show and the members of the theatrical Davis clan deserve our heartfelt thanks for remembering that old show biz adage: “The show must go on.”

The Davis family has been staging original musical melodramas like “Finding the Fickle Fortune” for decades and summer wouldn’t seem like summer without one, despite the coronavirus.

This show has all the Pickleville trademarks: upbeat music, witty lyrics, spirited dancing and lots of fun. There are even a few COVID-19 jokes and it felt good to laugh at the pandemic for once.

As always, the plot of the original melodrama by TJ and Derek Davis is paper-thin. But who cares?

The infamous arch-criminal Jacques Javert and a couple dim-witted co-conspirators arrive in a small Nevada mining town with a scheme to find and steal the long-lost Fickle family fortune (say that three times fast). After that, things go hysterically awry.

Slater Ashenhurst is back as Javert, with his horrible accent and even worst taste in attire. Ashenhurst is a Pickleville veteran who makes singing, dancing and fast-paced, physical comedy look deceptively easy. The only thing missing from his repertoire in “Finding the Fickle Fortune” was Ashenhurst’s usual off-script ad-libbing. But it was just the premier weekend, after all. Ashenhurst will undoubtedly start improvising later in the show’s run.

Emma Larson is spunky perfection as Alice, a pint-sized pre-teen with a bizarre adult-sized crush on the town’s brain-dead sheriff (vaguely played by Taylor Seth Hall).

As Fickle family heiress Ana, the lovely Samantha Arthur has also been bitten by the love-bug for Joey (Joshua Goodrum-Green), who seemingly can’t see past the end of his own nose.

Abby Huff hilariously plays Granny, the senior member of the Fickle family, who is devoutly hoping for a quick exit – of the fatal kind!

Spencer Watson and Camie Randall memorably round out the cast as Javert’s nefarious sidekicks.

The whole Pickleville cast was uniformly excellent. In fact, the only disappointment in the entire production was not catching crowd-pleaser Kenzie Davis in the rotating cast line-up for a matinee performance during the show’s opening weekend.

Backstage, however, members of the multi-talented Davis clan were thick as thieves supporting “Finding the Fickle Fortune.” The artistic staff for the production included playwrights TJ and Derek Davis, plus Andrea Davis, Erin Davis, Sharli Davis King and Whitley Osborn Davis.

The Davises were also busy taking drastic precautions to protect the health of audience members while performing through the pandemic.

Per the guidance of the Bear River Health Department, all groups of ticket holders were spaced 6 feet apart in the auditorium and were seated individually to ensure minimal contact with other patrons. All that elbow room was a pleasant change from the normal packed houses at the Pickleville Playhouse.

The cast members wore face-masks when they were offstage and many audience members chose to do the same. Tickets and concession items were handled with latex gloves and gallons of hand-sanitizer were on-hand.

Although observing those precautions in what is normally a carefree theatrical environment felt a little odd, the welcome opportunity to see a live performance again after three months of dark local theaters made it all worthwhile.

“Finding the Fickle Fortune” will continue to play Monday through Saturday at the Pickleville Playhouse through Sept. 12.

Starting Sept. 25, the playhouse will reprise its annual Halloween production of “The Addams Family” until Oct. 24.

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