Friday, Feb. 5, 2010

Melodrama Out West (On West Wisconsin)

Wisconsin Lutheran College presents The Curse of an Aching Heart

By Russ Bickerstaff
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With as many romances opening up this month as there are, it’s kind of odd that more of them aren’t opening up in time for Valentine’s Day. (The subject of a future blog, I’m sure . . .) One of the many shows not opening prior to next weekend comes in the form of a melodrama opening with the theatre department at Wisconsin Lutheran College.

 

 Herbert E. Swayne’s The Curse of an Aching Heart; or Trapped In the Spider’s Web! is, as near as I can make-out, a sixty-some year old parody of 1890’s melodrama. That is to say, it’s a parody of 1890’s melodrama from an era when it was only roughly half a century old.

Most of the people from my generation think of 1890’s  melodrama in terms of old, silent films with villains in long handlebar mustaches tying beautiful women to railroad tracks.(Or maybe just Snidely Whiplash and Nell) Reading the synopsis, one can almost hear the music and see the jaunty moving images fluttering around in washed-out images from an early era of photography:

The sweet and virtuous young Melody Lane is a beautiful orphan who is forced to marry the villainous Windermere Hightower, who expects her to participate in his villainy. She escapes to find herself at None Such Ranch, where she promptly falls in love with the stalwart hero Lucius Goodenough. Having tracked her down at the ranch, Windermere schemes to get her back.

The modern presentation is a clever twist on theatre from a genre when everyone was clearly identifiable as good or evil and there were no grey areas of the stage.   

Wisconsin Lutheran College’s The Curse of an Aching Heart runs February 19 -27th at WLC’s Raabe Theatre on 8815 West Wisconsin Avenue

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