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Theater Review: “Chaps!”

“Chaps!” plays through April 20, 2019 at Lamb’s Players Theatre, 1142 Orange Avenue, Coronado.
Photo credit:
Ken Jacques

Not every play has something serious to say. Lamb’s Players Theatre’s latest effort “Chaps!” – a goofy, cornball show full of fake British cowboys trying to sound like authentic American cowpunchers -- is an example.

This is a radio sendup of the sort of show Bob Hope did for years when he (and others) traveled around during World War II entertaining troops under USO auspices.\

Here’s the setup: We’re in a London BBC studio in 1944, where the staff awaits the arrival of the cast of “Tex Riley’s Radio Roundup,” which will be broadcast for local radio audiences and the troops overseas.

But time is growing short, and tour manager Mabel Halliday (Caitie Grady) is getting nervous. Where are they?

You guessed it: Tex & Co. won’t arrive. But the show (or at least a show) must go on – with the promised four singing “cowboys” – so Mabel shows the BBC staff the trunk of costumes and lets them have at it.

Announcer Leslie Briggs-Stratton (Ross Hellwig)sheds his very proper persona to become Tex Riley, and Archie Leitch (Steve Gouveia), normally the sound guy, is drafted to be a Cockney-inflected cowboy. Likewise, Miles Shadwell (Charles Evans, Jr.), normally a radio producer, and Clive Cooper (Manny Fernandes) – whose claim to fame seems to be a commercial for Saltey’s Fish and Chips – are appointed to fill the other two spots in the quartet.

Then there’s the question of a script (they find it, lose it, fake it), and a song list.

Mabel, normally part of a “Polly and Molly” duo in these shows, helps them out with song titles, mostly old reliables like “I’m an Old Cowhand” and “Tumblin’ Tumbleweeds.” And since Molly didn’t show up, Mabel gives a lovely solo interpretation of “The White Cliffs of Dover.”

Nothing here will strain your brain. But come ready to giggle at Clive (Fernandes) and his encounter with the puppet he is supposed to manipulate, Miles’s tale of his tangle with Black Bart, and Belle Starlet (Helwig), stunning in a fab pink, blue and fringe floor-length dress and feather hat doing, um, her version of “La Habanera” from the opera “Carmen.”

There’s no lack of acting or singing talent. Fernandes gets to demonstrate both his fine voice and his talent on both guitar and bass, Gouveia gets to pretend he can’t sing at all (he can, and does) and Evans sings of “Sioux City Sue.” Meanwhile, draftee Stan (Arusi Santi) amuses with his crazy, supposedly first-time sound effects.

If you’re looking for serious theater, “Angels in America” is playing in Old Town. But if you just want to relax and laugh, try “Chaps!”

The details

“Chaps!” plays through April 20, 2019 at Lamb’s Players Theatre, 1142 Orange Avenue, Coronado.

Tuesday through Thursday at 7:30 pm; Wednesday at 2:30 pm; Friday at 8 pm; Saturday at 4 and 8 pm; Sunday at 2 pm

Tickets: (619) 437-6000 or lambsplayers.org