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'Meet' cute at Gaslight Melodrama

The course of true love never did run smooth, especially if it blooms along the Panorama Bluffs. Gaslight Melodrama explores that possibility of romance in "Meet Me at The Bluffs."

Playing now at the northwest theater, this show is a slight departure from the classic, "boo the villain, cheer the hero" melodrama, said artistic director Michael Prince.

"It's a real classic kind of love story from beginning to end," he said. "In the very beginning of the show, our awkward love interests meet for the first time, and it's a thunderbolt right into each other."

He said he was inspired to write this show based on his memories of growing up in the neighborhood around Panorama Drive and Garces Memorial High School.

"My friends and I spent a lot of time on the bluffs. Anything seemed possible. It's (the show) a nostalgic love letter to that time in your life when you think everything is ahead of you."

In the show, Wendy Watermain (Ali Dougherty) and William Wenatchee (Adrian Francies) discover they have a lot in common, including allowing their dogs to skydive off the bluffs, a practice that Prince clarifies is completely fictional and should not be tried at home (even with adorable mini parachutes).

The duo also each know what it's like to have a disapproving parent — Wendy's mom, Sharon (Jennifer Prince), and William's dad, Earl (Don Kruszka) — who are both skeptical of this budding romance. That's not only concern for their children but also for themselves, Prince said.

Making the parents the obstacle in the story allowed a departure from the usual melodrama villain, often a developer hungry for land or someone wanting to destroy community traditions.

"These parents are desperately afraid of being alone," Prince said. "This is a cross-generational love story about people who are just trying to find a connection while also being hilariously funny at the same time."

That includes comedic support from Chayce Perlis, Victoria Tiger and Michael Kubik who plays "Grateful" Gary, a random old wise guy who, although he lives in a van by the river, seems to have all the answers.

The show is followed by the vaudeville revue "Merry Ol’ England," which was pulled from the Gaslight's vault and slightly updated. It's a tribute to England's culture and its past.

Prince said there's a funny bit with two lady tourists who get caught in the Tower of London with the queen's crown jewels as well as a jaunt to an Irish pub and a tribute finale to the Beatles.

Response has been great for the show that opened last weekend and Prince is optimistic that audiences will continue to enjoy this slight departure from the classic style.

"There are over-the-top moments but it’s also relatable, about real people."

And audiences have been walking away with the message of "love conquers all."

"That's the overall theme," he said. "Despite everything in life, embrace love and you’ll be OK."

Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter: @realstefanidias.