A power-hungry German spy and his cheerfully sinister raven-haired consort, a winsome English lass desperate to rescue her elderly father from their clutches, a handsome and upstanding — if eccentric — hero, a perpetually thwarted rubber-faced waiter and more. These are the characters populating Bullshot Crummond, a fond send-up of 1930s-era detective dramas at Circle Bar B Dinner Theatre through July 10.
Ably directed by Circle Bar B veteran Jim Sirianni, this romp follows in the footsteps of so many successful comedies produced there by David and Susie Couch, who run the rustic theater as part of the guest ranch.
A clever script, creative use of the tiny stage and brilliant comic acting tie it to their past theatrical triumphs, but this show has its own twists.
The five actors inhabit their roles with great gusto. James Le Vasseur and Leesa Beck as the dastardly Von Brunos ooze campy evil. Raymond Wallenthin as the titular Hugh “Bullshot” Crummond portrays him as a stiff-upper-lip sort of Brit with a chiseled profile who tackles challenges with a can-do attitude. Jenna Scanlon, as damsel in distress Rosemary Fenton, is a strong comic actress and masters her character’s quirky British accent flawlessly. The chemistry between these two is substantial, whether they are engaging in witty repartee over tea or facing life-threatening peril in each other’s arms.
The master of versatility in this production is Matthew Cooper, who plays no fewer than seven roles. The most memorable of these are a waiter who displays whimsically deadpan expressions, and Marovitch, hunchbacked minion of the Von Brunos. In all parts, his physical humor is deft and he demonstrates a delightful mastery of comic timing.
Also to be commended is some innovative staging used to widen the scope of the drama while working with very limited space — a gripping car chase and an airplane crash with characters bailing out in parachutes, among others, are accomplished in unexpected ways.
All in all, Bullshot Crummond is quite an entertaining theater experience, and along with the beautiful drive up the coast and a tri-tip and chicken dinner with all the fixings beforehand, makes for a thoroughly enjoyable evening.
— Justine Sutton of Santa Barbara is a freelance writer and frequent Noozhawk reviewer.