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A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
Goldsby's way with words is invaluable here, both funny and astute, as he tells the story of Farmer George (David Atkinson), who doesn't let the oil wells on his land keep him from tilling the soil every day, and his much younger wife, Anna Lee (Rory Patterson), who is dying to see something besides the boring oil wells outside her window. She's a pushover for smooth con man Clayton (Steven Hogle) and the fun is amplified by farm girls Clementine (Liz Randall) and Clara Belle (Wendy Shapero), alternately chased by and teasing ranch hands Philly Bob (Matt Lowe) and Terrence (Daniel J. Roberts).
The Latino element is used vibrantly in "I'm The Man For You" by the seductively mischievous Lucia (Gina D'Acciaro) and Ruben (Johnny Chavez) as her smitten suitor. Anna Lee's parents, Judge Sottinport (Brian Habicht) and his affected wife (Suzanne Friedline) are the stuffy older generation which Anna Lee fears more than her husband's opinion, though we never quite see why.
The ranch hands pretend to be drowned to attract the girls, in a number reminiscent of "Pore Jud's Dead" from Oklahoma. Goldsby also uses country waltz themes, rollicking square dance music and some lovely ballads.
Director Linda Kerns keeps her characters from becoming clichés, making George and Anna Lee stubbornly justified in their respective positions, as well as mulishly and comically head-strong. Heading the comic relief in the excellent cast is Wendy Shapero, whose facial expressions and body language would be admired by Rene Auberjonois, one of the great American Moliere interpreters. Matt Lowe has a promising presence as Philly Bob.
Stephen Gifford's set design colorfully utilizes the small stage with a slanted ranch house and a window out which the cast emotes and Francie Ridenhour choreographs a country dance in authentic lively fashion. The ending feels more like a pause in the action but Moliere was never one for neat endings. It's nice to think the story is still being told somewhere.