Take a convoluted Shakespeare plot, complete with betrayal, treachery, mistaken identity and masquerade, transplant it to the old Wild West, add clever lyrics and great music and you have a terrific evening of theater.
Thanks to Peter Kellogg who wrote the book and lyrics and David Friedman who composed the music, you need to sashay over to the Spirit of Broadway Theater in Norwich by Sunday, July 29 for “Desperate Measures,” a new and novel musical comedy that is sure to delight.
There’s no need to don cowboy hat, boots and spurs unless you want to get into the spirit of the action. Johnny Blood, a sincere and honorable Michael Sullivan, is in a peck of trouble. In the midst of defending the love of his life, a saloon girl of dubious virtue, one sassy Bella Rose, perfectly dolled up in the ruffles of Shauna Goldgood, he ends up shooting Big Swede (Calvin).
Even though witnesses swear Johnny shot in self- defense, he is incarcerated and scheduled to hang. The Governor of the territory, a pompous Keith Johnson, is not known for leniency and he wants to use Johnny as an example of his strict laws and punishment for crimes.
The sheriff, a dedicated Corrado Alicata, seeks out Johnny’s sister, who has not seen Johnny in years and is close to taking her final vows as a nun. He persuades the good Sister, a sweetly devout Aline O’Connor, to plead for clemency from the Governor who counters with a scheme of his own: if the sweet Sister will sleep with him, he will release her brother.
How the sheriff, the Sister and Bella conspire to spare Johnny’s life and fool the Governor is the ingenious plot that saves the day. Wonderful songs like Bella and Johnny’s duet “Just for You,” Sister and Bella’s wedding gown song “It’s a Beautiful Day for a Lifelong Commitment” and Sister’s plea to the Governor “Look in Your Heart” are just some of the fun and poignant moments in song and verse.
The story is aided by a friar, who is more often drunk than sober (Johnny Marion) and a pair of saloon girls (Jeanette Kearney and Kaila Galinat) who offer pithy philosophy as scene markers. Brett A. Bernardini directs this novel twist on Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure” with a firecracker sharp shooting pace.
For tickets ($30, students $25, children $20), call Spirit of Broadway Theater, 24 Chestnut Street, Norwich at 860-886-2378 or online at www.spiritofbroadway.org. Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Inquire about their Special Spa Dinner and Theater Package.