“The Golden State” at Main Street Theatre Works

The Golden State at Main Street Theatre Works is a modern retelling of Molière’s The Miser, set in southern California.

Molière’s works are some of my favorites, and it is nice to see the show adapted to interest a modern audience. The story follows the two grown children of a very wealthy and tight-fisted older woman. They both fall in love, and then scheme, along with the family’s maids, to get money out of the mother so they can get a fresh start. As with any good farce, hilarity ensues, and everything gets wrapped up nicely in the end.

The show is performed at the Kennedy Mine Amphitheater, and it is one of the nicest venues I’ve been to in a long time. The drive out to Jackson is beautiful, and the Kennedy Mine grounds are lovely. I’d like to go back sometime and explore more.

But allow me to remind theatergoers to bring a chair to this show! I didn’t realize that there wouldn’t even be benches, and wound up sitting on the grass—not the worst of fates, but it might have been nice to have something to sit on.

The show itself was very good. Gertrude Hopper, the miser herself, is played by Linda Montalvo. Her straight face is excellent, and makes her character’s ridiculous ideas even funnier.

Sylvia, Gertrude’s high-strung daughter, is played by an amusingly manic Lisa Derthick. Gertrude’s son Cubby is played by Paj Crank. The two actors complement each other very well. Crank, in particular, has some very funny dialogue. His character is one of the highlights of the show.

Blanca and Ursula, the family’s two scheming maids, are played by Julie Anchor and Katie Hulse. The jokes they are given are sometimes low-hanging fruit, but that doesn’t make them any less funny.

Luis, the family’s gardener and Sylvia’s love interest, is played by Ernesto Bustos. His excellent comic timing kept the play moving forward at a good clip.

Rounding out the cast are Dann Mead as Federico, Cubby’s love interest, and Susan Madden as Bunny, the deus ex machina who ties up all the loose threads at the end of the show. Both are very good in their roles, and play very well off the rest of the cast.

The pace of the opening performance was good, and it will only get tighter and funnier as the run continues.

I do have an issue with some of the jokes the playwright, Lauren Wilson, attempted in Act II. Topics ranged from racism to homophobia to rape to suicide. I don’t tend to think these are very funny topics, and the jokes fell pretty flat. The actors did everything they could with the material, and are not at fault for the writing. Once those jokes are over, though—and it’s a brief segment—the play’s pace and humor pick right back up and energetically charge through to the end of the show.

Overall, the show is definitely worth seeing. It was a lovely way to spend an evening with a beautiful drive, a gorgeous venue, and an amusing and light-hearted show.

The Golden State plays through September 6. More information can be found HERE.

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