The current show at Mansfield Music and Arts Society is the melodrama, "Love Rides the Rails". The widow Hopewell, who owns the railroad franchise, has a mortgage on her home held by Simon Darkway of the Middletown & Rocky Mountain Railroad. The battle of this franchise not only affects the noble workers of the railroad and its superintendent, Truman Pendennis, the hero, but also results in a rocky roadbed for the romance of Prudence Hopewell, the widow's lovely daughter.The villainous Simon Darkway seeks to control the Walkers Valley, Pine Bush and Pacific R.R. for his own vile purposes. Assisting him are Dirk Sneath, a viper of a man, and Carlotta Cortez, the sultry siren with a heart of gold. Fortunately, the gallant Truman Pendennis, the beauteous Prudence Hopewell, the Widow Hopewell, and staunch Harold Standfast oppose the sinister schemes of this wicked trio. Swiftly and hilariously, the classic melodramatic plot unfolds, leading to a tremendous climax when the hero is inescapably bound by the villains to the tracks of an onrushing train. Thankfully, someone saves the day. And now, with virtue at last triumphant, the evildoers get their just desserts.Director Neil Colvin keeps the show in constant motion, winning it many laughs all night long.
Neil gives his cast many moments of shtick in this show.Pandemonium is rampant during this show which is reminiscent of the cartoon Dudley Dooright and the Perils of Pauline movie. Neil says in his director's notes that the cast picked songs to help them define their characters. Giving away too much of the plot will spoil the fun for the audience. Many planned mishaps take place that will leave you shrieking with laughter. Neil is aided in his task by hard working stage manger, Libby Kafka with the colorful costumes by Ann Marie Lambert. The set is by Glenn Fournier. Playing the role of the nasty villains are John Schumacher as Simon, Ken Levy as Dirk and Sarah Barlow as Carlotta (They are oily and slimy in these roles) while the hero and heroine are played Patrick Murphy and Michelle Monti (They are dynamic in their roles). Their daughters, Bethany Murphy and Haley Hartin are the cue card girls who tell you when to boo, cheer and set each scene of the show. The Widow is played by Evie Rayburg whose two songs "I'm Still Here" and "Memory" won much applause. Truman's best friend Harold is well played by Jonathan Pierce who sings "Friendship" with Michelle and Patrick in Act 1. Sarah's terrific number is "Whatever Carlotta Wants" and another one with John is "Be a Villain". The songs add the needed depth to the melodramatic script. Group numbers include "Casey Jones", "There's No Business Like Show Business" and "I've Been Working on the Railroad". Musical director Theresa Ronan also plays the piano and sings while the choreography is by Danielle Clougher. So for a rollicking good time and a trip back to yesteryear, be sure to catch "Love Rides the Rails" at MMAS.