The Setup: A Fertle Farewell chronicles the demise of the hamlet of Dumpster, Texas, population 12, a distant relative of Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon, but most definitely on the other side of the railroad tracks. But the chance of revival may be in the works when an executive from Brenham Records arrives in town, and the local band turns itself inside out in hopes of garnering a recording contract for its lead singer, Country Wayne Conway.
The Execution: Steve Farrell plays Wayne, as well as several other characters, including a loser relative who drinks too much and hangs out under a box, but Wayne is the most endearing as a country swain who single-handedly keeps the town's motel in business. Apparently willing to sleep with a rock if it has a slot in it, he sings the heartfelt tribute "I Like Older Women."
Vicki Farrell nails multiple roles and looks especially hot in her blonde wig. Rich Mills fills out the cast as the visiting executive, as well as several locals, and reminded me of Jonathan Winters both in shape and talent. His pantomime of asking a girl out is a comedy classic by itself. Talent is the operative word here, as all three play musical instruments (Steve Farrell, apparently, an endless supply of them!) and are masters at quick changes, enhanced by body language. These are brilliant actors masquerading as rural folk, and playing their roles so convincingly that we heartily believe in their reality. The humor isn't sophisticated, but there's plenty of it, and the evening is light-hearted and definitely musical. This is the final production of Radio Musical Theatre, which is closing its doors after 26 years of captivating audiences.
The Verdict: It's unlikely RMT's kind will pass this way again, so regulars who have come to love Dumpster, Texas will want to catch its farewell romp, and those who have yet to experience it will want to catch this unique excursion into the striving and conniving, the wiles and smiles, the pathos and the triumphs of the denizens of Dumpster - not your neighbors, exactly, but still recognizable enough that you might want to invite them to your next barbecue.
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(Through April 30. Radio Music Theatre, 2623 Colquitt, 713-522-7722.)