A year and a half in the making, two months plus in rehearsals, “Gold Can’t Love You Back” promises to be a musical theatre highlight of the year.
Playing for the month of June at The Stone House restaurant and event venue in Nevada City, the play is an original, Gold Rush Era melodrama written especially for the actors and the venue. The play is staged on the ground floor of The Stone House. Some of the audience is, literally, immersed on stage with the actors.
The actors will talk to you, even accusing you (yes, you) of murder.
In addition to an original script, “Gold” offers 10 original songs. Some actors have solos and sometimes, virtually the entire cast breaks into Broadway-inspired song-and-dance routines.
Angus “Paydirt” Dalton (Sky Seals) lusts after gold and Abby Sherman, the daughter of the recently late Pastor Sherman, who owned the richest gold mine in Pine Ridge.
Abby Sherman (Carey McCray) now owns her father’s mine. Although still in mourning for her father, she has agreed to marry greedy Angus because her true love Opie left town 10 years ago.
Lillie LaCroix (Jessica Brugnon) is a saloon-singing, French siren. She lusts for any man with money, and most men lust after her. A self-confessed gold digger, her standout theme song is “Marry Rich.”
Judge Roy Bodine (Ryan Wink) owns the Hidden Gem Saloon and courthouse. He lusts after Lillie, luring her with expensive champagne and flattery.
Madam Fox (Alison Kenyon) runs the brothel upstairs at the Hidden Gem. She lusts after gossip and information she can use to manipulate people.
Candy McKetchum (Judy Merrick) is one of Madam Fox’s working girls. She has a side hustle, Candy’s Cure-All apothecary. She aspires to make enough money to go to medical school.
Opie Stallworth (Robert Rushin) returns to town too late but just in time to solve a serial murder mystery.
Whiskey (Cosmo Merryweather) works for Angus and wishes he didn’t, so he drinks a lot.
Rounding out the cast of 17 characters are the Bailiff, Snake, Barnabus, Gertrude, Petunia, John and three of Madam Fox’s employees, Delilah, Sadie and Charlotte. And that’s not to mention the three-piece band.
The nonprofit company House of Fates and Stone House Productions have assembled a cast of veteran, professional actors to not only perform but also to write, produce and direct “Gold Can’t Love You Back.”
Ryan Wink (Judge Bodine), Jessica Brugnon (Lillie) and Cosmo Merryweather (Whiskey) wrote the play. Merryweather is also the director.
Wink is the creative director for the show. He teamed with musical director Sky Seals (Angus) to compose the entertaining and engaging show tunes.
Expect outstanding performances from Judy Merrick and Jessica Brugnon.
Bringing 13 years’ experience in New York City theatre, Merrick has a commanding stage presence. She has a BFA from USC, graduate training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, and a string of credits from San Francisco to Scotland.
Writer, producer, singer and actress, Brugnon grew up in the theatre. She trained in opera and professional acting in France before moving to the U.S. seven years ago. Since moving to Grass Valley two years ago, she has become a founding member of the House of Fates theatre company, which only produces original works.
Creative and musical directors Ryan Wink and Sky Seals are also star performers to watch as the two male protagonists.
Over Wink’s 20 years as a vocalist, beginning as the front man for the band Brazil, he has evolved into improv acting, songwriting and composing, scriptwriting and performing in musical theatre.
Sky Seals, winner of the Bay Area Theater Award for Best Actor in 2017, has been acting since he was 7. For the last seven years, he’s performed as Johnny Cash in the musical “Million Dollar Quartet,” and he boasts credits from Shakespeare at Lake Tahoe to Off-Broadway.
Although he has a minor but colorful role, Cosmo Merryweather, like the others, has more credits than can be mentioned here, but they include acting and directing with Sierra Stages, Upstart Theater Company and Untamed Productions (director of the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” at the Nevada Theatre).
Although there is a stage, much of the action takes place amidst the audience. Audience members are encouraged to wear western attire.
Doors open at 6 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; 5 p.m. Sundays. The show starts one hour later.
Tom Durkin is a freelance writer, editor, and photo/videographer in Nevada County and a member of The Union Editorial Board. He may be contacted at email@example.com or www.tomdurkin-media.net.