Western melodrama sure to entertain

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— Upstairs in the Ore House, on a small stage in the corner of the room, amateur actors perform a saloon scene during the restaurant's annual dinner theater.

The audience boos for the male villain, does a little "hubba hubba, ding ding" for the female villain and cries a soft pity song for the heroine. The performance is a tribute to the melodramas popularized in the 19th century.

The "Secret of Yonder Mountain," a Robert Fulton Kennedy melodrama, presents a handful of extras and about six main characters to give the audience a silly tale of the hero and heroine trying to escape the wrath of ugly villains.

While Kennedy's melodrama took place in Alaska, director, producer and stage manager Mike Walsh twisted the story to connect with locals.

The "Secret of Yonder Mountain" takes place in Clark in the late 19th century. A blizzard finds the hero, Cyril Twigbucket, dazed and confused after searching for his fortune of gold high in the mountains.

"It's a family show. It would (also) be a good place to take a date," Walsh said. "There's a lot of audience participation."

The heroine, Twigbucket's true love, desperately searches to find him.

When Twigbucket, dazed and confused by the blizzard, returns to the saloon, the evil villains set out to find the gold mine he has discovered and try to use heroine Persephone Proudheart to help them.

Walsh, who plays the bartender Clark, said the play has a surprise ending.

"This is the best melodrama ever written," said Walsh, who has been in theater for 25 years. "We planned to do this melodrama last year, but it was canceled."

Even though dress rehearsal Tuesday night found Walsh scrambling to repair the lighting, the main characters put on their best acting faces.

This saloon sure isn't Moulin Rouge, but hey, what did you expect from a show for the family at the Ore House?

The extras may need a few more acting lessons, but it's worth remembering that most of these people have jobs outside of the Ore House.

Walsh said the late 19th century was famous for producing serious melodramas, but over the years, they became more of an exaggerated, comedic play.

"You're kind of overacting. Everyone makes a big deal out of stuff," Walsh said.

Classic songs on guitar, banjo and piano make for a fun sing-along.

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