Accessibly Live Off-Line: Tanglin’ Hearts is “witty and charming comedy”

Theatre 40 of Beverly Hills presents TANGLIN’ HEARTS, the Zora Margolis/Peter Spelman musical of two Texas brothers out with their own agenda between the notions greed, the love of the land, along with a whole lot of romantic hearts intertwined, all set among the prairies of The Lone Star State.

The stage setting is Arden County, Texas. This little spot’s located on the western side of the state finds the Fredricks clan. Ben Fredricks (Kevin Michael Moran) a shrewd and rather grabby business mogul, wants to build a huge theme park called “Benworld”; a place where good ol’ boys can have themselves a time, from shooting in a game area featuring anything that one can legally hunt down, a huge casino, along with a “no-tell-motel’ resort for the boys to have a more intimate times with some “long legged ponies”. He’s been buying every ranch and spread he can get his hands on. With this huge parcel at bay, he also wants to build a lethal dumping ground where places like New York City will gladly pay to direct their sewage out of town to this out of the way place. Fellow younger sibling Duke Fredricks (Sean Smith) want to preserve this land, with knowing of the threat of a take over of the Double W Ranch–the last holdout–owned by Jesse Wells (Madison Cassaday) and sibling Webb Wells (Nick Denning). Meanwhile Rosalind Fredricks (Heather Barr) daughter of Ben, and cousin Ceclia (Cailan Rose), have their desires to become big Country stars. They become entangled with this big takeover while they find their loves, along with a few other ideas. Between the notions of big city-type greed and a concept of favorable for all, its a simple tale of domestic good vs. evil–Texas style!

This little musical uses the base of William Shakespeare’s comedy As You Like It, and transfers it to modern day Texas, creating a very witty and charming comedy, along with hosting a great musical score to boot. Zora Margolas pens the book and lyrics with story line by Charlotte Houghton and Margolas, with musical score by Peter Spelman along with an

additional number by Wayne Storm. This team creates a stage work is holds plenty of charm that this production presents itself. The cast of nine performers pulls all of the stops in terms of signing (each cast member belts out a tune or two), and dancing as some perform more hoofing than others, thanks to Allison Bibicoff’s stage direction and choreography. The ensemble fetches their comical performances as pleasing and comforting as a ice cold long neck bottle of Lone Star beer. The additional performing troop, featuring Susan Brindely as Jackie, Trip Langley as Rowdy, Sarah Schulte as Phebe, and Bruce Schroffel as Cal Mantee, add to this tale that combines comedy, musical elements, along with some good old fashion romance that’s idea to the perfect fit that holds true to its western themed relish.

Besides the musical score presented mostly transcribed under direction of Gonzalo Palacios is Jeff G. Rack’s set design, showing a few of the so- called “urban” settings of this slightly remote part of the state, as well as the Double W Ranch–the Texas version of the Bard’s Forest of Arden, although there isn’t any mention of a “forest” per se since there isn’t many trees in that part of the nation!

This presentation of TANGLIN’ HEARTS at Theatre 40 marks the 20th anniversary of when this show was first performed. The authors brought the story line to the current era, making it a “new” work. Although this writer never took advantage of seeing the show when it was first performed, it’s not really known how different it was way back when. But this isn’t the point. The real notion here is that this musical has a lot to offer, and in indeed a little gem that shouldn’t get away! As its been quoted too many times before, everything’s bigger in Texas, and this show is indeed no exception! It’s a boot scootin’ rip-roaring’ spot of a good time! Git along l’il dogies!!