Do you ever wonder how musical theater got its start? "Ug, the Caveman Musical," which opens Friday, Aug. 23, at Camelot Theatre in Talent, answers all your questions and then some.
In this goofy and charming musical, we not only learn how caveman Ug turned his story of a dangerous boar hunt into a riveting theatrical experience, but we also learn the real truth about how early man discovered fire, invented tools, chose the practice of monogamy and concocted the first recipe for barbecued pork.
Camelot Theatre Company's resident production manager, Roy Von Rains Jr., directs.
"This show is a great mix of low comedy and high comedy," Rains says. "It has a wonderfully absurd concept."
Ug's Neanderthal tribe is so enthralled by his dramatic performance that it decides to present the play before a visiting rival tribe. But, as we know, a backer's audition is very different from the real thing. During rehearsals, the playwright fights with the director, the costume designer wants to give it more pizzazz, and Ug decides to replace his wife in the role of the hero's love interest with the tribe's sexy vamp.
"Think of it as 'prehistoric man meets Hollywood musical,'" Rains says. "The dialogue and the costuming are 'pseudo-caveman.' We're definitely not doing the show in 'caveman-speak.'"
The cast includes Tyler Ward as Ug, Kelly Jean Hammond as Tatata, Kendra Taylor as Bandala, Peter Wickliffe as Bob, Chun-Han Chou as Arg, Reese Rush as Ig, Bob Herried as Ooolookie, Max Gutfreund as Fatalataba, and Brianna Gowland, Marlena Gray and Ellie Nelson-Mahon as the Ug-Ettes. David J. Rowley provides narration, and Karl Iverson, Peter Spring and Steve Sutfin provide the music for the production.
"We have the band onstage and in costume," Rains says. "The music covers lots of different styles — from an Elvis-type gospel solo to a love song with a Disney quality."
Sara Gore created the choreography, with musical direction by Iverson and Taylor. Set design is by Camelot's resident set designer, Don Zastoupil. Costumes are by Ellen Alphonso. Brian O'Connor provides the audio and video design.
With all the familiar backstage squabbling, does "Ug, the Caveman Musical" have a happy ending?
"On Broadway," assures Rains, "there's always a happy ending."
"Ug, the Caveman Musical" was written by Jim Geoghan with music by Rick Rhodes and lyrics by Geoghan, Vivian Rhodes and Rick Rhodes.
It previews Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 21-22, opens Friday, Aug. 23, and runs through Sept. 22 at Camelot, 101 Talent Ave., Talent. Curtain is at 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, Aug. 21-24 and 28-31, and Thursdays through Saturdays, Sept. 5-7, 12-14 and 19-21. Matinees are set for 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets cost $25 for the Aug. 21 preview, a fundraiser for KSKQ. Tickets cost $12 for the Aug. 22 preview. A pay-what-you-can performance will be offered Aug. 28. All other tickets cost $27; $25 for students and seniors (except Sunday matinees). Call 541-535-5252 or see www.camelottheatre.org.
Roberta Kent is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach her at email@example.com.