'Tumacho' Is The Best Musical Comedy-Western-Thriller Ever!

By: Amy Tagliaferri

Cast of "Tumacho" at Cape Rep.

Think “Blazing Saddles” on steroids or Monty Python if set in the Old West, with a dash of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and you might come close to describing “Tumacho,” the show making its regional premiere at the Cape Rep in Brewster.

This hilarious show is silly and inane and is giving audiences some well-deserved laughs in this unsettling time. “I think I’m going to wake up in the middle of the night laughing,” said the man behind me as we exited the theater.

“A lousy little town” (as described in the program) is under siege by William “Bill” Yardley. Yardley murders sheriffs as fast as the inept Mayor Evans can procure them. Prudence Alderman, a pious busybody, sums it up perfectly by saying she’s sick of living with “blood in the streets!” But this little town has bigger problems than a dangerous gunslinger when Dr. Alonzo starts spouting off about a prophecy of the return of a blood-sucking demon called Tumacho. A silly script with catchy tunes and a wickedly talented cast make Tumacho a unique and entertaining experience. Ethan Lipton wrote this “play with songs” and it was a recent off-Broadway hit. You really need to see it to understand it.

The usual cast of characters for any play set in the Old West are here. There’s the wise-cracking saloon owner and barkeep, Alice Whistler (Jess Andra) and her crazy, daft Grandpa, Sam Whistler (Ian Ryan), and the resident drunk and former gunslinger passed out at the bar, Catalina Vucovich-Villalobos (Holly Erin McCarthy). Other townsfolk include Mayor Evans (David Fontneau), Dr. Alonzo (Robert Tucker), the churchgoer Prudence Alderman (Victoria Tucci), the hero Clement Graham (Nick Nudler), the cook Chappy Wing (Jared Hagan) and of course, the villain Bill Yardley (Ari Lew). The scene is set for the return of Tumacho. Who will the demon possess and what kind of havoc will he wreak on this god-forsaken town? The scenes are silly, the songs are fun and the entire show is a one ridiculous laugh after another. To me, standout scenes were “No Justice for the Dead” with McCarthy, Nudler and Ryan; the singing cacti (the entire company) in the opener “One-Horse Town;” and the finale “Oh, the Saguaro,” and “Chappy’s Rap” with Hagan.

Director Maura Hanlon must have had fun with this show and it shows. She and the theater’s producing artistic director Janine Perry, lighting designer Phil Kong and Richard O. Perry are also credited with detailed set design. The little distinctions of the set and lighting (the sunset sky and Clement’s hacienda!) and in the costumes (designed by Robin McLaughlin) were another layer of the production, and stage manager Chelsey Jo Brown keeps it all flowing (there’s a lot going on!). Check out those spurs on Yardley’s boots! Nudler provides the likable music cleverly switching from guitar to banjo to piano with ease, even when he’s laying dead on the ground! His guitar strums add the suspense of an old-time western. With 10 musical numbers and just a few scene changes the show moves along a brisk pace and lasts about 90 minutes with no intermission. There’s only a few more chances to catch this show, get your tickets today!




At Cape Rep Theatre, Route 6A, Brewster

Through June 12; Wednesday to Saturday at 7 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.

Information and reservations: 508-896-1888, www.caperep.org