The well-earned reputation of The Gaslight Theatre can be summed up in just a few words:
Brilliant. Hilarious. Original. Fun. Creative. Refreshing. Addicting. Interactive. Intricate. Service-oriented. Family-friendly. Cozy. A plain ole’ awesome, must-try experience.
Okay, maybe there aren’t enough words to describe Tucson’s famous playhouse, which, by the way, has been around for more than 35 years.
It just has that certain thing. It’s the type of entertainment where you leave feeling better than when you arrived; where you can’t help but respect the big talent on the small stage; where your life’s worries and inhibitions go to die; and where you realize upon leaving that every dime you spent was more than worth it. It’s a lighthearted melodrama that takes on the more serious job of digging into the soul and reminding you that there is always something to laugh about.
And in the case of the playhouse’s newest act, The Belle of Tombstone, there is plenty to laugh about.
This just might be the best one yet. It builds on years of experience and talent, bringing back many of the familiar actors that patrons of Gaslight have come to know, and in the meantime recreates a tale known to most all Arizonans – that of the rising fame of Tombstone during its peak mining years, when the long arm of the law and the rowdy cowboys went head to head in the town too tough to die.
Under the supervision of corrupt businessman Jack Diamond (Armen Dirtadian), Johnny Ringo (David Fanning) is the egomaniacal cowboy leader, and he and Diamond have one simple goal: Take control of the Tombstone silver mines and in turn take control of Tombstone.
But Ringo and his group of dimwitted cowboys get more than they bargained for when they run into morally righteous layman Frank A. Miner (Jake Chapman) and U.S. Marshall Ned Wingate (Mike Yarema), who stand in the way of their crooked plans to gain power through wealth.
The two sides collide, and in the end, only one can prevail.
That’s the ridiculously simplified version of the plot, but there is so much more than just the storyline in this (and every play at Gaslight) – though not to take away anything from a fantastically scripted and well-thought-out play that is both entertaining and thematic.
There is the audience interaction. In the case of Belle of Tombstone, one of the cowboys happened to fling some popcorn into air while walking through the crowd. Two scenes later, that cowboy finds a rogue piece of popcorn stuck to his head while he is mid-dialogue.
There are the cheers and boos of the crowd. There are people of all ages getting involved in rooting on the good guys and shunning the bad guys.
There is the fact the script can be, and should be, veered from during the play. It’s refreshing to see the frequent improvisations, to see botched lines of dialogue that are irrecoverable. It only adds to the humor. The actors laugh at their own mistakes. It’s not about precision. It’s about unpredictability.
There are the props, which serve as a sort of character on their own. There is the mood-setting lighting. There are the flawless transitions from dialogue to song and dance. And there’s the song and dance, which, all joking aside, is quite impressive.
Couple these things with great customer service from the waiting staff, and you have a recipe for success, or in the case of The Gaslight Theatre, success that is 35 years and counting.
For information, including show times and ticket purchases, visit www.thegaslighttheatre.com or call 886-9428.