• Cowboy Christmas, a Riverlea Theatre production in Hamilton, directed by Mel Martin reviewed by GEOFF LEWIS
Riverlea Theatre's Cowboy Christmas is a good-time, feel-good, song and dance romp and a must-see entertainment for anyone looking an enjoyable way of wrapping up the year.
Written by Hamilton playwright Michael Switzer, Cowboy Christmas is a merciless lampoon of every two-bit Western, loaded with quick-fire innuendo, double entendre and digs at local politics.
Cowboy Christmas is set in the dusty town of Buzzard Spit and is full of stereotypical western types. There's the evil Colonel Clayton at the helm who is swindling the townsfolk of their hard-earned money.
In a comedic plot against her father, daughter Alice has invented the Zorro-like vigilante Bullseye in order to steal money back from her dad, and return order to the town.
In an unlikely twist, 'real' vigilante Slim Shady comes to town to swindle the colonel himself and hilarity ensues.
The story line is just plain silly but holds the audience like a gin-trap.
Many took the opportunity to get into the spirit by dressing-up in theme complete with cowboy hats and (plastic) six-shooters.
The show is played in the 'transverse', meaning the audience sits on both sides of the stage. Congratulations go to choreographer Lily Empson for coaching her enthusiastic crew through a series of corset-busting routines set to foot-stomping rock, pop and country classics arranged by musical director Vasa Faaosofia.
Every show has its stand-out performances; leads, including Spencer Littlewood, Duncan Bouwer and Ruby Brett came across well.
So did Ben Wilson as Tallulah who would not be out of place in the Rocky Horror Show and the crazy trio of Takz Southon, Kate Booker and Adam Rangitaawa, who play Los Banditos with shades of Came a Hot Friday.
Designed to appeal to end-of-year audiences out for a good time, Cowboy Christmas is Riverlea Theatre's big fundraiser for the year which will help towards projects including its long-awaited rebuild.
• Cowboy Christmas, written by Michael Switzer, directed by Mel Martin, production Maureen Cruickshank, Musical direction Vasa Faaosofia, choreography Lily Empson. Cowboy Christmas concludes December 14. Dinner and show offered, Bookings iTicket or call the theatre 07 856 5450. Bar open at 6pm, dinner 6.30pm.