Probably the best way to describe Theatre Three’s recently opened production of James McClure’s “Wild Oats” is fun - good, old-fashioned fun, and if that’s your thing you probably won’t be disappointed.
By all accounts the cast and the audience seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves opening night. Seems like Jac Alder and his company know to whom they are playing.
“Wild Oats” is an adaptation of a 18th century play by Irishman John O’Keefe, a playwright known for his prolific writing and his penchant for satire.
McClure, Southern Methodist University alum, who passed away earlier this year and achieved some fame with several plays in the 1970’s, transported O’Keefe’s “Wild Oats” from 18th century England to the 19th century Wild West. The story is about, you guessed, it “sowing your wild oats,” and takes place in the small town of Muleshoe, Texas.
From there viewers are transported to a melodrama of epic proportions (no popcorn throwing in this version… although I must say, that would’ve been a welcome addition). The story is a quasi-complicated plot of bad guys, mistaken identity, reunited families and a very happy ending – nothing out of the ordinary.
The cast, led by an endearing Andy Baldwin, ham it up to such an extreme that their enthusiasm seems to carry even the show’s worst jokes. Lee Jamison brings her infectious energy back to the Theatre Three stage, after closing last season in “Pippin,” as the leading lady Kate Thunder. Sheila Rose as the town “madam,” is equally winning.
Jessica Renee Russell and Micah Figueroa give hilarious performances as children of the villain Ike Gammon, who elicited several roaring boos opening night.
There is no doubt that reviews of this show will be mixed, but it’s worth seeing, if just to roll your eyes at the obligatory bad (and I mean bad) jokes, the cast member’s antics and the fact that you can celebrate Dallas theater with a theater company, and a cast, who truly have made a name for themselves. Plus it’s a fitting homage to McClure, an SMU alum, who by all accounts was a great man and a great friend to many.
Wild Oats is currently in performances at Theatre Three in the Quadrangle in Uptown and runs through September 10. Visit www.theatre3dallas.com for ticket information and showtimes.