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Western Star

A couple of con men, Sam Goode (E.E. Bell) and Red Willie Magaw (Walter Winston Oneil), dupe the townsfolk into believing that Sam is a preacher. And when outlaws Julie (Kathi Gillmore), her husband Leeroy (John Bisom) and brother Ben (Benjie Randall) rob the local bank, there's little tranquility left in Esperanza.

A couple of con men, Sam Goode (E.E. Bell) and Red Willie Magaw (Walter Winston Oneil), dupe the townsfolk into believing that Sam is a preacher. And when outlaws Julie (Kathi Gillmore), her husband Leeroy (John Bisom) and brother Ben (Benjie Randall) rob the local bank, there’s little tranquility left in Esperanza.

The tale is told in a series of vignettes as each of the many characters’ stories unfold. The creators’ intention was clearly to weave a tapestry of the Old West. However, the jumbled melange of characters and story, combined with confusion in the underlying theme, results in an unfocused evening.

The love story between Adam and Julie (two interesting characters played with verve by Hawkins and Gillmore) is given short shrift by the aimless shenanigans of the con men and the attendant events in town.

Creators could refashion the piece by fleshing out the two central characters. Many scenes with the con men and townspeople seem like filler, both in the book and score. While some of the musical numbers, including “Western Star,””The Mandolin Waltz” and “It’s a Temporary Romance” rise above the rest, most of the music needs to be revamped for show to have a shot at advancing.

Despite the material, performances are generally excellent, with Gillmore a standout with her gorgeous voice, hitting every emotional beat with vigor and confidence. Hawkins is also fine, although somewhat restrained in his role. Bell and Oneil are energetic, if a bit too broad. Bisom is a convincing villain, often a difficult task in musical comedy.

The Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities clearly embraced this piece with enthusiasm as the production values attest, with wonderful set by Ed Gallagher and costumes by Pamela Shaw.

Direction by Irv Kimber is also excellent, although he might have been able to squeeze a little more character detail from the admittedly slim book.

Western Star

(Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center; 1,424 seats; $ 35 top)

Production: Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities presents a musical in two acts. Music and lyrics by Scott De Turk and Bill Francouer, book by Dale Wasserman. Directed by Irv Kimber; set design, Ed Gallagher; costume design, Pamela Shaw; lighting design, Pamela Gray; sound design, John Feinstein; choreography, Jon Engstrom; musical director, Dennis Castellano. Opened and reviewed June 9, 1995; runs through June 18. Running time: 2 hrs., 20 min. Adam No-Name ... Michael G. Hawkins Sam Goode ... E.E. Bell Red Willie #Magaw...Walter Winston Oneil Leeroy Donivan ... John Bisom Julie Donivan ... Kathi Gillmore Benjamin Gwinn ... Benjie Randall Harlin Trimble ... Gary Lee Reed Cassandra Trimble ... Bonnie Onken Victoria Trimble ... Erin Stott Thaddeus Crabb ... David Kieran Myrtle Crabb ... Jeannine Barba Kirk Murray ... Randy Hills Spencer Trigg ... Sam Zeller Fantasy Mary ... Jennifer Holmer Fantasy Julie ... L.R. Davidson Townspeople: Jane Armstrong, Brad Bradley, Ian Collins, Federico Flores, Dan Gager, Jennifer Holmer, Peggy Magee, Jodi Marcus, Richard McBride, Sarah Ramsey-Duke, Stephanie Saunders, David Scheve. The world preem of this new musical with book by Dale Wasserman ("Man of La Mancha") is flat and meandering, with mostly bland and forgettable music by Scott De Turk and Bill Francouer. Broadway or regional theater chances look slim without significant reworking. Story is set in 1875, in the town of Esperanza in the Colorado Territory. Loner Adam No-Name (Michael G. Hawkins) has sought refuge from his tragic past in the hills above town, and watches from afar as the townspeople slowly infringe on his isolation.

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