There are few things as intimate as the public display that is live theater. Unlike a film, where you are strictly a spectator (no matter how emotionally involved you are in the story), with live theater you are a part of the story. You are watching events unfold in real time. It's all happening right before your very eyes, as they say.
Now, there are many levels and layers to theater. Operas, ballets, musicals, one-man shows. Broadway extravaganzas, high school plays, local playhouses. While it is easy to say that most Broadway shows are amazing and most school plays are like torture to sit through (both true), there exists a rarely acknowledged sweet spot and that is small theaters full of talented individuals. And within that arena is an even smaller sub-group of players who specialize in vaudeville and melodrama.
In the small, beach town of Oceano on the Central Coast of California sits a colorful, if modestly sized, building with a tall sign in the parking lot drawing you toward The Great American Melodrama & Vaudeville. A year-round company, they put on about half a dozen different shows a year that run about a month or two each and range from well-known hits like Steal Magnolias and Treasure Island to parodies like Pappa Pia and Scary Poppins, each one followed by a vaudeville revue. They're unique, they're heart-warming, they're fall out of your seat funny and the talent flies out from the stage onto the audience like it's being shot from a confetti canon.
But that's not all. At The Great American Melodrama, it's all about the team effort, so when the curtain goes down for intermission, the cast (still in costume) comes out onto the floor or back into the concession stand to serve up snacks! It doesn't get much more intimate than having Rip Van Winkle hand you a box of popcorn.