Boo, hiss!

Musical melodrama Lily thrives on audience participation

Fairfield Daily Republic ©

When Carrie Zadnik thinks of melodramas, memories of her grandmother sitting at the piano come rapidly to mind.

Carrie Zadnik was just 7 years old when Carol Zadnik would sit beside her at the piano and watch her granddaughter progress at the ivories.

She would teach the young child the keys and assist with notes as the two Zadnik ladies sat at the piano beside a large window inside the round room, or the witches cap, of Carries house.

The thought brings a laugh to 26-year-old Carrie these days a woman diligently teaching the keys to a child who would one day musically direct a show written by her late grandmother.

'She would come over every other day just to see where I was in piano playing,' Carrie admitted, then laughed as she added, 'but I would ask her, How can I progress in just one day? '

For years, Carol Zadnik and Alice McDonald presented melodramas performed faithfully at the Vacaville Fiesta Days to an enthused crowd hungering for laughter and spontaneity. The duo, once referred to as the 'Rodgers and Hammerstein of Vacaville,' even went so far as to market and copyright their work via a publishing company they founded named StageLines West.

But as with all good things, the musical melodramas at the Vacaville festivities ended, putting the historical combination of drama and music to rest. Until this year, with the help of director Mary Cornelison Muehlenbruch and producer Christine Smentek, together with musical director Carrie Zadnik.

From the vaults of the dynamic duo, 'Lily, the Virtuous Seamstress or She Was So Good She Never Dropped a Stitch' is resurrecting this year at the Vacaville Fiesta Days soiree today through Monday, continuing into Missouri Street Theatre from June 2-11.

But make no mistake, Muehlenbruch and Smentek are not replacing the women who created a plethora of dramas mixed with music, Smentek assured, the type of shows where heroes chase villains into the audience as damsels in distress lurk in the wings.

'Were continuing the tradition of musical melodramas,' she simply said. And they are, indeed.

For Smentek, who has worked with Muehlenbruch for 25 years, she is looking forward to the shows performance. In fact, she cant wait to get the audience booing.

'Thats my favorite part,' she said. 'The villains come out to the audience, run around and the heroes chase them. Whenever they come out we start to boo and hiss them, and suddenly all the kids get involved. They get such a kick out of it.'

Also appearing in the show is Darryl Zadnik, Carols son, as Goodman Schubert.

'I feel honored to perform what my mother accomplished in her musical career,' he said quite proudly.

Melodramas were originated during the 1800s, using gas lights, Victorian garb and the good-versus-evil plot. 'Lily' promises to keep the tradition going by recreating the look of yesteryear packaged with cheers, clean entertainment and family fun.

Cast includes Oz Angst as Mr. Merlin Skirmahorn; Jay R. Snyder as J. Sedwick Sludge; Paul Knowles as Jeremiah White; Cathy Knowles as Trixie; Rachel McAfee as Fluffy Feathers; Glenn Smentek as Master of Ceremonies; Annie Muehlenbruch as Lily White; Shirley McGowan as Mrs. Merrywellborn; and B.C. Hoff as Frank Merriwellborn.