Randall Theatre Co.'s production of "The Great American Western" opens with the Lone Ranger, dressed in rags, pushing a shopping cart full of cans through the theater.

Randall Theatre Co.'s production of "The Great American Western" opens with the Lone Ranger, dressed in rags, pushing a shopping cart full of cans through the theater.

The Lone Ranger and Tonto have fallen upon hard times. Stuck in the small, "one-horse" — seriously, there's only one hitching post — town of Dirtwater, Texas, the Lone Ranger seeks help from the local employment office, succeeds in securing a position as the local sheriff and makes his brainy friend Tonto deputy.

Before you jump to any conclusions about how this story will unfold, stop. "The Great American Western" is not your typical Old West tale but a lampoon of one. Absurdities abound, and rather than duels and damsels in distress, there's a mayor being investigated for embezzlement, a slimy government agent named J. Edgar Hoover, a temperance league fronted by Carrie Nation and an appearance by the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders.

The "almost cheesy" musical comedy, written by Sacramento playwright Bruce Guelden, features random, historical and fictional characters in over-the-top situations, says director Bob Herried.

The show opens Friday, June 21, with an outdoor, Southwestern-style barbecue from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the theater, 10 E. Third St., Medford. Look for smoked sausages, homemade chili and cornbread. Curtain is at 8 p.m. Tickets for the barbecue and show cost $17. (SOLD OUT)

Other shows are set for 7 p.m. Saturday, June 22, Thursday through Saturday, June 27-29, and Friday and Saturday, July 5-6. Matinees are set for 1 p.m. Sundays, June 23 and 30, and July 7.

While the Lone Ranger is getting back on his feet, Mayor Carboni (David Hagemaier) is secretly using the town's hitching post fund to pay for the medical needs of his 12-year-old, wheelchair-bound foster son, Fester (Tucker Chestine). Meanwhile, Nation (Julia Weston) and her fellow temperance advocates are trashing local bars. Nation's cohorts include Garmaine (Debbie Rogers), who works part-time at Target; Maggie (Toni Holley), who likes to blow things up; and Sioux (Julia Chavez), a gold-digger with her eyes on Tonto's fortune.

Michael Mitchell plays Tonto, Rob Pendell plays Hoover, and Christopher Horton plays the Lone Ranger.

"He (Horton) is great for the role," Downward says. "He's a tall, dark and handsome-type guy with great comedic timing. He doesn't go over the top with the Lone Ranger. He plays it straight."

The show has a camp aesthetic with aspects of melodrama and is rife with physical comedy, irreverent humor (horse poop is involved), gags, pokes at politicians, audience interaction and pop-culture references, says Artistic Director Robin Downward.

"It's a show that doesn't take itself seriously, at all," he says. "It's similar in humor and style to 'Blazing Saddles' — not for kids but great for immature adults."

Songs also have a comedic twist as cast members sing adaptations of classic hits. "New York, New York" becomes "Dirtwater, Dirtwater," "Johnny Be Good" becomes "Ranger Be Good," and Lucille Ball's "Hey! Look Me Over" is revisited as "Hey! Whiskey Drinker."

Pay-what-you-want tickets are available at the door; reserved seats cost $12 and are available at www.randalltheatre.com or by calling 541-622-5795. Tickets for Thursday and Friday, June 27 and 28, will include vouchers for two free glasses of beer or wine, available at the concession stand.