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Over-the-top fun

Fans of ridiculous heroes — from Inspector Jacques Clouseau of the Pink Panther movies to Austin Powers — will be cheering on Bullshot Crummond as he tries to foil a dastardly plot involving diamonds.

"Bullshot Crummond is a hero, but he's a hero in spite of himself," says Bob Herried, who is directing Randall Theatre Company's production of the play "Bullshot Crummond." "It's like in the Pink Panther movies, where Inspector Clouseau is successful in solving all these cases in spite of himself."

The tomfoolery begins with an opening-night reception with food and drinks at 6:30 p.m., followed by the play at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25, at the theater, 10 Third St., Medford. Opening-night tickets are $18.

Tickets are $15 for 7 p.m. performances Saturday, Sept. 26, and Oct. 1, 2, 3, 8, 9 and 10, and 1 p.m. performances Sunday, Sept. 27 and Oct. 4. Tickets can be purchased by calling 541-632-3258 or visiting www.randalltheatre.com. Pay-what-you-want tickets are available for any unsold seats 30 minutes before performances.

Written in 1974, "Bullshot Crummond" parodies the fictional adventures of World War I veteran-turned-gentleman-adventurer Bulldog Drummond, who was immortalized in popular books and movies of the 1920s and 1930s.

In the play, the villainous Count Otto Von Brunno and his evil mistress Lenya Von Brunno crash their plane in the English countryside and kidnap Professor Rupert Fenton, who has discovered a formula for making synthetic diamonds.

Bullshot Crummond and the professor's daughter, Rosemary Fenton, must rescue the professor and stop the villains.

"You have a hero, a heroine, a villain and a villainess. The characters are almost caricature-type people," Herried says. "It's a broad farce about spy movies with a lot of special effects and a lot of humor. Some of it is crude humor and some of it is stupid humor."

The play includes scenes more appropriate to big-budget blockbuster movies, including car chases, the plane crash and fights with gangsters.

In an homage to the low budgets of 1920s and 1930s spy movies, the play's special effects are purposefully transparent and ridiculous.

Herried says the Randall Theatre will use some newer technology, such as video projections, but will stick to the spirit of the play.

"It makes it look silly. The idea is to parody low-budget movies of the 1930s," he says.

Harried says directing a farce is different than directing a drama.

"In a drama, you develop the characters and their relationship to the socioeconomic world they're in. I'm not saying the characters in 'Bullshot Crummond' don't have depth. They do. But comedy is about timing and setting up the punch line. There's a lot of work that goes into the timing," he says.

For the Randall Theatre production, Tyler Ward will play the title role, with Randall Theatre newcomer John Richardson as the villain, V. Simone Stewart as the villainess, Brianna Gowland as the heroine — and Jacob Uhlman as just about everyone else.

Uhlman, who played multiple roles in the theater company's zany comedy "The Mystery of Irma Vep" earlier this year, takes on seven roles in "Bullshot Crummond."

"It's probably one of the most fun shows I've ever done," Herried says. "We have an absolutely fabulous cast that works well together. It's a very cohesive show. We're ready for an audience."

Randall Theatre Artistic Director Robin Downward says the fast-paced play full of slapstick humor, quick changes, car chases and cheap special effects is perfect for audience members who want to laugh and leave their worries behind.

"There is no social commentary in this show, no moral to the story — just pure, hectic and hilarious comedy," Downward says. "We wanted to cast the actors who would have the most fun with playing characters that are very much over the top. I believe we have not only reached that goal, but jumped high over it."

Tyler Ward, left, plays Bullshot Crummond and Jacob Uhlman plays a waiter and six other roles in Randall Theatre's production of 'Bullshot Crummond.' Photo courtesy of Rodney Rampy