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March 6, 2018 > One in a Million

One in a Million

By David R. Newman

One in a Million is a modern melodrama presented by the Sunol Repertory Theatre (SRT), a grassroots organization that has been putting on shows since 1982. Once a year they gather in the auditorium at the Sunol Glen School to offer their latest dramatic creation. In the words of co-founders Vicki and Tom Harland, ÒOur original idea to produce a melodrama in Sunol was to provide an outlet for local talent and as a fundraiser for the school.Ó

ItÕs a small-town production with big heart and a loyal following. Some of the cast members are current students or alumni of Sunol Glen School, while others, like Phil Mumford, a 35-year veteran of SRT, used to teach there (he plays a rich mamaÕs boy and pulls it off despite the obvious yet hilarious age difference).

One in a Million was written by Craig Sedaro, a Chicago playwright who specializes in melodramas, and was obtained by SRT through Pioneer Drama Service, one of the largest play publishing and licensing companies in the United States. ItÕs the story of Sunny Archer (Tazlina Dentger), who, along with her sister Ginny (Georgia Ball), live as foster children in the home of absent-minded librarian Carrie Bloomfield (Meredith Sarboraria) and her eccentric inventor husband, Oliver (Derek Johnson).

When Sunny finds a winning lottery ticket worth $2.8 million on the floor of the local Quick Mart, her world is quickly turned upside down, spinning the entire Bloomfield house into hysterical chaos.ÊA host of zany characters rounds out the cast, including evil Ms. Grimstadt (Robin Spindler), obnoxiously rich Louella Pierpont (Linda King-Bowman) and her son Leonard (Phil Mumford), and their funny partners in crime, Dixie (Donna Blevins) and Trixie (Lea Blevins).

The story unfolds in series of flashbacks through the eyes of Ginny, who is recounting the events to the Judge (a respectable Bob Canning) in his chambers. Ball brings wonderful energy to the role of Ginny, and effortlessly transitions between scenes set in the present and the past. Cast members playing her sister and friends are all very likable, as are the Bloomfields. But the star of the show may well be the roller derby Grandma, played to the hilt by SRT veteran Patti Balch, who has been with the company for 33 years now. She also doubles as the set and costume designer, which, in this case, is simple, yet effective.

Directors Diane Tiessen and Klay Kunkel have handled the material well and should be applauded for creating an enjoyable night of good old-fashioned melodrama. Audience members are encouraged to participate, and while hesitant during the first act of opening night, let loose with a barrage of hisses, boos, and cheers in Act Two.

Perhaps the crown jewel of this experience lies in the piano music of pianist and musical director Allen Schell, who has been with SRT for 19 years. He improvises each performance, taking cues from the action on stage. He is a true master, and at times I forgot he was even there, so seamlessly does his score blend with the acting.

Intermission is, literally, a treat, as guests are ushered to the adjoining cafeteria where assorted drinks and desserts await. Local community groups volunteer and money raised goes toward their projects.

ItÕs nice to know that in the hectic Bay Area there are still places where time seems to slow down. Where theatre groups like SRT entertain while making you feel welcome, like a good Ôol barn dance. Their production of One in a Million may not be fancy, but youÕll leave feeling like a million bucks.

One in a Million
Through Mar 24
Friday & Saturday: 8 p.m.
Sunol Glen School
11601 Main St., Sunol
$15 Adults/General Admission

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