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Melodrama regales audiences with comic tales of How the West Was Really Won 

Once upon a time, the Central Coast—and all of California, really—was a lawless wasteland. But not as much of a lawless wasteland as say, Arizona, if the Great American Melodrama's hilarious farcical play, How the West Was Really Won, is anything to go off of.

In a series of short stories that poke fun at theatrical and storytelling tropes, How the West Was Really Won fleshes out the world of Dead Water, Arizona, a chaotic place with water that will kill you, where even the horses drink whiskey.

click to enlarge SHOOTOUT What happens when the sheriff (Mike Fiore, center), a bartender (Katie Gucik, left), and an undertaker (Alejandro Gutierrez) must defend the town of Dead Water, Arizona? Find out in the Great American Melodrama's How the West Was Really Won. - PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE GREAT AMERICAN MELODRAMA
  • Photos Courtesy Of The Great American Melodrama
  • SHOOTOUT What happens when the sheriff (Mike Fiore, center), a bartender (Katie Gucik, left), and an undertaker (Alejandro Gutierrez) must defend the town of Dead Water, Arizona? Find out in the Great American Melodrama's How the West Was Really Won.

Enter our brave sheriff (Mike Fiore), who is constantly going head to head with evil outlaw Snake (Ben Abbott) and his lady love, Mustang Sally (Katie Pautler). Snake is so dastardly that he kills Card Player No. 1 (Rachel Tietz) for refusing to give him 3s she didn't have in a rousing game of Go Fish. As the sheriff cautions earlier in the show, "Bad things can happen to minor characters without real names."

Upon thumbing its nose at one storytelling trope, the show promptly winks at another as Snake brings an audience member onstage to replace Card Player No. 1, all while saying, "This is called the fourth wall that you're breaking." You can guess how well that second round of cards goes.

And a Judge Judy-themed trial only further tips its hat as it acknowledges the comical necessity of multiple actors playing multiple parts when Tietz (formerly Card Player No. 1) must execute justice at the trial over her own character's murder.

click to enlarge THE BAD GUYS Railroad tycoon Johnson (Rachel Tietz, right) and cattle baron Johnson (Katie Pautler) scheme up devious ways to get their hands on coveted land. - PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE GREAT AMERICAN MELODRAMA
  • Photos Courtesy Of The Great American Melodrama
  • THE BAD GUYS Railroad tycoon Johnson (Rachel Tietz, right) and cattle baron Johnson (Katie Pautler) scheme up devious ways to get their hands on coveted land.

With that first storyline's resolution, all is quiet in Dead Water, but only for a mere moment as Johnson (Tietz) and Johnson (Pautler)—the railroad tycoon and cattle baron, respectively, before they got in the business of baby powder and such—scheme up ways to get widows and small children off the ample land so they can build a railroad and graze cattle. However, their inept henchmen (Abbott and Henry Fisher) fail them time and time again, in progressively sillier ways, resulting in Abbott's playing the femme fatale in a dress as he attempts to seduce and poison the sheriff. Oh my!

But fear not, dear audience member, there are plenty of bad guys to boo and hiss at in How the West Was Really Won, and there's also a love story or two (gasp!). Plus, I'm not naming names, but we even see one beloved minor character narrowly escape death and get a real, proper name!

How the West Was Really Won is simply too joyfully silly to be actually scary, but if all that talk of ne'er-do-well villains puts you on edge, there's always the Family Fun Vaudeville Review after the second intermission to cheer you up, pardner. Δ

Arts Writer Ryah Cooley is writing off into the sunset on her trusty steed. Contact her at rcooley@newtimesslo.com.

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