MUSICAL 'FLOOD TIDE' GUSHING WITH LOVE, SIMPLICITY.
An unabashed melodrama, "Flood Tide at Rio Magdalena" at the Center Stage in Woodland Hills is a lighthearted musical piece of fluff that provides a fair share of laughs for aficionados of the genre.
Set in a small town in Texas around the turn of the century, the play centers on Lucy (Andrea Lee Davis), a sweet-tempered, beautiful young lady recently orphaned by the death of her guardian.
Left with a house but no money, Lucy and her dear friend and housekeeper Dolores (Kerima Reed) overcome their grief and make plans to turn their home into a boarding house. Their efforts, however, are thwarted by the interference of Cleetus G. Weed (Dale Phillips), a greedy local doctor who schemes to profit from Lucy's misfortune by acquiring her property.
An oncoming storm marks the appearance of two members of a traveling company of actors (Elmarie Wendel and Frank Echols), who have been waylaid by a bandit and are seeking refuge from the inclement weather.
The storm also provokes a fortuitous visit by Lucy's handsome new neighbor Sam Travis (James Reeder). Coming to warn Lucy of the rising waters of the nearby river, the noble and dauntless Sam falls instantly in love, while a charmed Lucy does the same.
Sam's arrival stirs the crafty and villainous Dr. Weed into even more nefarious plotting as he attempts to convince the trusting Sam that Lucy is unfit for marriage.
But there's never a doubt in one's mind that the story will end with true love triumphant. Though performed for adults, "Flood Tide" is basically a tale for children; there's even an opening prologue in which audience members are encouraged to vocalize their reactions with hurrahs and boos.
The music - Suzanne Buhrer, Gene Casey and Jan Casey are all credited with book, music and lyrics - is mostly upbeat, with several clever and entertaining sets of lyrics and one very nice ballad, "When I'm With You," sung by Sam and Lucy.
Overall, the singing is uneven, but like the great gaps in the story's logic, forgivable given the unpretentious aims of the production.
Richard Alan Woody's direction could be more precise; a reworking of some of the moment-to-moment pacing would allow the show to play more crisply and effectively.
"Flood Tide" is unlikely to intrigue audience members without a taste for the simplistic and the silly, but taken on its own terms, the show does succeed as the playful bit of foolishness it attempts to be.
The show: "Flood Tide at Rio Magdalena."
Where: Center Stage at the Enchanted Forest, 20929 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills.
When: 8 p.m. Saturdays, 7 p.m. Sundays, indefinitely.
Running time: One hour, 55 minutes; one intermission.
Tickets: $15. For information or reservations, call (818) 761-5520.
Our rating: Three Stars.