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Great American Melodrama's The Mark of Morro is fun, funny, and fresh 

As Cal State Oceano's head honcho, Dean DeVille, breaks into his very own rendition of "If I Were a Rich Man," strutting and shaking his booty across his office on the Great American Melodrama's stage, the audience bursts into laughter.

"Na, na, na, na, na, na," he crooned from beneath his three-piece suit one Sunday evening in May.

click to enlarge DASTARDLY DEAN Cal State Oceano's dean, Dean DeVille (Billy Breed) gives student Mark (Mike Fiore) a piece of his mind in the Melodrama's current production, which made its debut in 2014. - PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE MELODRAMA
  • Photos Courtesy Of The Melodrama
  • DASTARDLY DEAN Cal State Oceano's dean, Dean DeVille (Billy Breed) gives student Mark (Mike Fiore) a piece of his mind in the Melodrama's current production, which made its debut in 2014.

Billy Breed sang the Fiddler on the Roof tune that inspired Gwen Stefani's "If I Were a Rich Girl" while reprising his role as the dastardly DeVille in The Mark of Morro, which Jordan Richardson and Eric Hoit wrote specifically for The Melodrama and made its debut in 2014. Directed by longtime Melodrama staple Hoit in both 2014 and 2022, the current version of the play is updated with new jokes, new cast members, and songs, according to Melodrama Interim Artistic Director Katie Worley-Beck.

click to enlarge SONGS AND LAUGHTER Gabrielle Smith plays both a townsperson (pictured) from the early 19th century and modern-day college science major Penelope in The Mark of Morro. - PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE MELODRAMA
  • Photos Courtesy Of The Melodrama
  • SONGS AND LAUGHTER Gabrielle Smith plays both a townsperson (pictured) from the early 19th century and modern-day college science major Penelope in The Mark of Morro.

"We were lucky to have one of our writers directing the show again to make those changes," Worley-Beck said. "With a fresh cast, the show has been given a new life."

But The Mark of Morro still focuses on Mark (Mike Fiore), his obsession with a swashbuckling comic book hero, El Morro de San Luis Obispo (John Keating), and the struggle Mark has becoming the person who his classmates believe he can be.

click to enlarge DYNAMIC DUO Cheerleader MacKynzi (Sydni Abenido) and Cal State Oceano surf team captain Dax (Hank Fisher) are coupled up on campus in the Great American Melodrama's production of The Mark of Morro. - PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE MELODRAMA
  • Photos Courtesy Of The Melodrama
  • DYNAMIC DUO Cheerleader MacKynzi (Sydni Abenido) and Cal State Oceano surf team captain Dax (Hank Fisher) are coupled up on campus in the Great American Melodrama's production of The Mark of Morro.

Flashing between El Morro's trouble in the 19th century and Mark's trouble on campus in the present day, The Mark of Morro plops audiences onto the Cal State Oceano campus as Mark deals with his annoying roommate, Dax (Hank Fisher)—who also happens to be the captain of the school surf team and is dating the head cheerleader.

Soon, Mark starts to notice something fishy is going on with school funds for student activities. Always-singing and ever-theatrical Kevan (also played by John Keating) can't get the dean to fund his new drama production, dark and brooding December (Meggie Siegrist) lost the money to publish the school's literary magazine, and normal-but-nerdy Penelope (Gabrielle Smith) is no longer receiving research dollars. But somehow Dax's girlfriend, MacKynzi (Sydni Abenido), can get the dean to throw down the dollars anytime the cheerleading squad needs something.

The unlikely crew of college stereotypes comes together to get to the bottom of things, doling out plenty of jokes, songs, and dance numbers along the way. And let's not forget about those sword-fighting scenes and the vaudeville revue that follows the show!

click to enlarge PAYBACK IS A ... Penelope (Gabrielle Smith) gives Dax (Hank Fisher) a particularly theatrical wedgie in the Melodrama's updated version of its original 2014 play, The Mark of Morro. - PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE MELODRAMA
  • Photos Courtesy Of The Melodrama
  • PAYBACK IS A ... Penelope (Gabrielle Smith) gives Dax (Hank Fisher) a particularly theatrical wedgie in the Melodrama's updated version of its original 2014 play, The Mark of Morro.

The Mark of Morro funny and fun, light-hearted and full of life. But it's only showing through June 18, so hurry if you want to catch it.

Butch Cassidy and the Sunburnt Kid is up next at the Melodrama, running from June 23 to Aug. 6. The Western parody follows the adventures of Butch and Sundance as they change the course of history in the Old West. Whacky locals, hideouts, and villains await the duo en route to Bolivia.

You can grab beers, popcorn, and nacho cheese dip, and get ready to boo for the villains and cheer for the heroes! Δ

Editor Camillia Lanham is always down to cheer for the hero. Send villains to clanham@newtimesslo.com.

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