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‘Magic Milk’ Will Make You Smile

At least 40 people pooled their labor under the banner of “Secret Knock Presents” to bring “Magic Milk” a Silent Musical to the Anderson Valley Grange Friday Nov. 4th and Sat. Nov. 5th. They are going to do it all again Friday Nov. 11th and Saturday Nov. 12th. For raising spirits as the days are “turning in” this bit of Tom Foolery and outright Buffoonery can’t be beat. Apparently the brainchild of Cob Martin (writer & director) and Daniel McDonnell (music composer) “Magic Milk” romps through a bunch of scenes at a frantic pace reminiscent of old fashioned silent movies. Characters are very exaggerated in their movement and facial expressions as they convey the story completely without the help of the spoken word or even any vocal sounds. Live musical accompaniment by Ryan Davis (of Boontfire fame) on the drums, Daniel McDonnell on the piano and Jainned Boonyagarn on Cello and piano- kind of an unusual trio but very effective in conveying lots heated emotion.

The actors, all eight of them, are well cast. For example Derek Roseboom as “Cottonwick” with his flowing blonde mane and distinctive pointed nose and slouch cap makes a perfectly believable village person from a bygone agrarian age. Likewise Doug Read (veteran valley thespian- who could forget his beyond bewitching Glinda the Good Witch?) this time with his cardboard mandolin, chest shaking chuckle and twinkling eyes is a shoe-in kitchen hanger-on as “Cookbook”. Bernadette Restuccia in ample yards of burgundy satin makes the most of her role and her costume as the “Duchess”. She somewhat resembles the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland and does a great job even without her trademark poetry. Charlene Rowland was my personal favorite among the clowns as “Spoon”. Her tall and lanky frame bends and flails hilariously. Her arms appear made of spaghetti and her moccasin feet seem attached with rubber bands. Even her pert mustache (she plays a man) is funny. Sierra Peters as “Kitty” is a beauty that can do cartwheels even in a pretty massive cat suit that includes a very long tail with a comic mind of it’s own.

Sophia Bates “Cow” definitely steals the show. Her cow is so guileless. She chooses to move so calmly adding a melancholic contrast that is much needed to balance the other players’ frantic antics. She saunters out to start the show and then again to end it. Each time she slowly eats just one flaming orange flower that is growing out of the stage (played by puppeteer Judy Roberto who is crouching under the stage wearing a long stemmed green glove). The pathos in her gaze as she slowly eats the flower defies description. Let’s just say that Charlie Chaplin would have approved. In an unintended laugh I could not help noticing the eaten flower head was moving down the leg inside the cow costume- presumably into an unseen pocket. Also a belly laugh watching Sophia’s cow cheerfully boogalooing with her hoofs gloriously raised and plastic bowl utters bouncing when the cast took their bow at the end of the show. You go girl! And stringing the entire (very loose) plot together were mother and daughter team “Dish” and “Fiddle”. “Dish” played by Mira Bouch did a great job of portraying the eternal maternal. “Fiddle” the only youngster in the cast played by the courageous over-the-wall-fire-escaper was played by Leela Nasser-Gammett.

I will not attempt to describe the plot but I will say that the imbibing of an intoxicating substance (Magic Milk) brings startling results. Also that “Kitty” may come to a tragic end even with nine come-back chances. The production owes a lot to the keystone cops and the burlesque style (using music to amplify physical action). The costumes while understated are all terrific and give the actors the freedom they need to move very freely. Perhaps costume designers have dance experience… The face of the cow is so very, very sweet but not sentimental - no curly eyelashes. Kudos face maker. Excellent theater design on simple but oh so effective sets.

Some of the people spotted last weekend at the show included: Alice and Rick Bonner, Captain Rainbow and Yvonne, Lady Rainbow, Taunia Green (yes she’s back visiting), Judy Nelson, The Baynhams, Justin Laqua, Abeja, Kira and Randy, Mary Pat Palmer, Joanie Davis, Joe Petelle, Bill and Gail Meyer etc., etc., etc. Plus I think I might have spotted the ghost of David Norfleet out of the corner of one eye. I’m pretty sure he was there.

It is well worth your time and hard earned cash as it will more than make you smile. Creativity is alive and well in Anderson Valley - Tickets are $20 Adults, $35 VIP and $10 for kids. Anderson Valley Grange Hwy. 128 Philo CA. More information on Facebook “Silent Musical: Magic Milk”

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