Friday, August 3, 2012

Taproot’s Chaps is Rootin’ Tootin’ Good Time

Solomon Davis, William Hamer, Simon Pringle and Sam Vance
 in 
Chaps!Photo by Erik Stuhaug.

Taproot Theatre Company asks the question, “Ever wonder what would happen if Monty Python met Roy Rogers?” in their latest press release for the musical “Chaps!” and it pretty much sums up the content for their latest production.

Set during World War II, the BBC radio plans a live performance from a group of “real” cowboys from the United States to be broadcast in honor of the troops. However, the singing cowboys are a no-show. Only their manager and their costumes arrive on time. What’s a profession radio station to do? Improvise!

Caitlin Macy-Beckwith, Simon Pringle,  and Ian Lindsay in Chaps!. 
Caitlin Macy-Beckwith plays Mabel Halliday, the lost group’s manager, who knows program frontwards and backwards. In a matter of seconds, she convinces the proper British men of the station to put on their best “cowboy” act for the audience. Archie Leitch (Simon Pringle) is more than ready for the task, as he is a huge fan of the stereotyped American singing cowboy of film. Clive Cooper (William Hamer) and station manager Miles Shadwell (Sam Vance) are game as well. Leslie Briggs-Stratton (Ian Lindsay) is at the other end of excitement about the proposed plan and nurses his hangover with more liquor. What follows is lunacy, toe-tapping country music and fun. And then there is Stan (Solomon Davis), who has returned from war physically but not mentally. He’s in charge of sound effects.

Solomon Davis, Gordon Tibbits, Sam Vance, William Hamer,
Simon Pringle and Caitlin Macy-Beckwith in 
Chaps!.
Written by Jahnna Beecham and Malcolm Hillgartner, and directed by Taproot’s Associate Artistic Director, Karen Lund, “Chaps” is more musical than it is comedy, but delightful for all ages. Though a parody, you still get a sense of what it must have been like to work in a radio station during the 1940’s. The set features old time microphones, real sound effect equipment and the “On Air” and “Applause” signs.

The small but powerful cast harmonize beautifully. Making her debut at Taproot, Macy-Beckwith is cute as can be as Mable and one can’t help but appreciate Pringle’s infectious smile throughout. Lindsay, fresh off of Taproot’s “Leaving Iowa,” nearly steals the show as his character slowly makes the transition from apprehensiveness to sheer delight. Fans of Vance, who has been absent from the Taproot stage for quite some time, will be happy to see him play the uptight, asthma-prone station manager.

William Hamer, Sam Vance and Caitlin Macy-Beckwith in Chaps!. 
Last but not least, the production would be nothing without the musicians who make show what it is: Gordon Tibbits on Bass, Eric Chappelle on Fiddle, Edd Key and Theresa Holmes on Guitar.

The show has been a hit and has been extended through August 18. Presentations are on Wednesday and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and matinees are available on Saturdays at 2 p.m. Performance take place at the Taproot Theatre Company located at 204 North 85th Street, Seattle, WA 98103. Tickets range from $22-37 depending on the performance and can be purchased online or by calling the box office at 206.781.9707. Special rates for senior and students too.

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