By Michelle Kolobutin
Seated in the Chippewa Pavilion listening to the opening number of Capitol Players’ melodrama production, The Moose Meat Cook-off, my foot was tapping – I knew I was in for a great show. Melodramas, known for exaggerated acting and audience involvement, were the up and up a century ago, but as director Lawrence Badanai puts it “audiences got too sophisticated for melodramas.” However, at Moose Meat we are encouraged to sacrifice our logic and reason.
Set in Chippewa in the 1920s, Moose Meat follows villain Mulroney McNasty (Colin Stewart) as he sets to erect a casino and live bait shop on the shores of Chippewa. We watch as hero Sterling Amethyst (Spencer Hari), a smiley, do-gooder with a French-accent resembling Chretien’s, save’s the day, despite being distracted by the batting lashes of Emily Appleseed (Jenny Costanzo). Rounding out the cast are past-due, yet fabulous singer Swanky Bubbles (Beverley Gravelle-MacLeod), local bow-tie wearing Zamboni driver Gerry Poppins (Don McMahon), and well-intentioned Tilt-A-Whirl operator (Candi Badanai). Janis Swanny Swanson holds the show as musician.
Moose Meat is marinated with Thunder Bayisms, playfully referencing local politicians and landmarks. Even those new to the city will find something to laugh about. Attendees are encouraged to sing along, boo McNasty and salute Amethyst while chanting “Strong of Jaw and Pure of Heart!” (an audience favorite). Evident in the seamless banter of the cast, Moose Meat is a reunion of sorts—they performed together a decade ago when Capitol Players hosted Medieval Times. It’s “pure silliness,” says Badanai, just the kind of thing I needed on a summer evening.