With humor, a hint of sarcasm and a few explosions, The Oakland Community Theater will bring a localized rendition of Dave Chapelle’s “Goodbody’s Gold” to the Washington School gym beginning Thursday.
“It’s about a young girl, Sugar Goodbody, whose father, Gordon Goodbody, has just passed on to the other side and she has inherited this mine that doesn’t appear to be very profitable,” said lead actress and director Bette Keehley. “She keeps having problems, because there are accidents happening at the mine.”
Unfortunately for Sugar, the charismatic and underhanded villain, Francois B. Fowler (Michael Blessing), is intent on buying her mine and will employ any means necessary to obtain it. Along with his sidekick, Monk (Joseph Brooks), Francois orchestrates a few explosive accidents to cripple the mine’s already limited production.
Thankfully, the damsel in distress has a few heroes on her side: the shotgun-toting Grammie Grumpree (Linda Fischer), kind and goodhearted mine foreman Freddy Faithful (Derek Blodgett) and business advisor and town banker Grant Cash (Dana Basque).
“All of the characters have names that kinda tell you what they are,” Joanne Bartleson said.
True to his name, Francois is a miscreant bent on owning the Goodbody mine. Along with the calamities he causes, he also attempts to seduce Sugar. He does everything in his power to lower the cost of the mine, including convincing gullible Sugar that selling is her only option.
“Basically, he is a gentleman and a scoundrel. The kind of guy that I picture as a swindler of sorts,” Blessing said. “He tries to act like the most sophisticated best friend you’ve ever had all the while he is getting ready to stab you in the back — metaphorically and, in some cases, literally if necessary.”
Blessing is a seasoned member of the Oakland Community Theater group and while he has played a villain before, this is his first time portraying one so refined.
Derek Blodgett is also a long-time member. His role as Freddy Faithful is one he enjoys, even if the character is a bit simple-minded.
“He’s an idiot,” Blodgett said. “He is smart to some degree ... he loves sleuthing and looking for clues. He loves reading sherif magazines.”
It is Freddy that first suggests that the issues at the mine are not accidents and ultimately solves the case. Being the hero doesn’t save Freddy from dim-whitted moments, however, like when he discovers Francois’ suit case full of evidence but doesn’t make the connection between the accidents at the mine and the villain next to him.
“Faithful is definitely handy when it comes to actually finding; he definitely has good street-smarts when it comes to actually finding somebody,” Blodgett said. “Freddy has the smarts when it comes down to it, he’s just not all the way there. Definitely one of my absolute favorite parts to play.”
The script, originally written by Chapelle, was adapted Basque and Keehley.
“We get a play, and Dana, who’s playing Grant Cash the banker, and I kinda go through it and we add characters as we want and we change things a little bit — develop characters, do little things to it — so that it more fits us,” Keehley said.
Changes include moving the setting to 1980s Oakland and the addition of the Temperance Ladies, a quartet of older women against all things bad for the body and soul.
“It’s pretty funny,” Mary Jean Morey said. “It’s got some pretty good lines in it.”
The annual melodrama opens Friday at 7 p.m. and continues Saturday and Sunday, as well as Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the following week. All Friday and Saturday shows begin at 7 p.m. and Sunday matinees start at 2 p.m. Popcorn, candy bars and drinks will be available for purchase. Tickets are $6 for adults and $4 for kids 12 years and under.
“I hope (the audience) laugh their heads off and enjoy it,” Keehley said.