An over-the-top 'Over the Back Fence'

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By Don Pace

If elected, mayoral candidate Fernando Smith says he would sue the mayor of Las Vegas, Nev., for stealing the name of this city. And so it goes in the play “Over the Edge” by Anne Bradford and Cynthia Riley, who created a cast of wacky characters visiting a morning radio talk show.

KFUN’s “Over the Back Fence” was the backdrop for the comedy acted out by the Nat Gold Players during four soldout performances.

KFUN owners Joseph “JP” and Loretta Baca were honored guests at Saturday’s final show and said they loved the lighthearted humor that poked fun and satirized many of the local personalities that often participate in the radio station’s morning program.

“It was wonderful,” Baca said. He said it was a busy set with a lot of things going on at one time. “People listening to the radio sometimes don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes, and the writers and actors portrayed it right, even though it was a little over the top. Every scene really grabbed your attention and had the audience laughing the whole time.”

Cody Ross Romero played PJ, and Jazzmine Freedom played Laura. Sound familiar?

“We were trying to figure out a good setting for the play — something that would include a lot of different kinds of acts and people. We came up with a spoof on ‘Over the Back Fence’ and as we wrote the script, we certainly did not want to offend anyone, but we certainly had material that possibly could have, so we softened things up a little,” Bradford said with a laugh.

Riley added that she and Bradford love Las Vegas and wanted to create a comedy that would lampoon the city’s good-natured people in extreme situations.

Riley said to hear people laugh at something they wrote was exhilarating and amazing.

“Once it was finished and we began rehearsing it, I wasn’t thinking of it as something I had done, and then back stage I’m hearing people laughing and I’m thinking, ‘Oh, my gosh. It’s something Anne wrote or it’s something I wrote and they’re laughing. It was very exciting,” Riley said.

Bradford agreed.

“It’s wonderful to see people laugh at something you thought was funny before rehearsal. Of course, after six weeks of rehearsal, you’re thinking, ‘Is that so funny?’”

Karyl Lyne, director of “Over the Edge,” said the cast fell in love with the script and the idea of laughing at themselves, as Las Vegans.

“Anne and Cynthia were able to capture that in the script and then it was a matter of us being able to find the funny things in it and to make it so that the audience would catch the fun as well.”

Lyne said she hoped the Baca family enjoyed the Nat Gold Players parody of Las Vegas’ morning radio.

“There is no greater form of flattery (than being satirized), and I think all of us in this city owe a great debt of gratitude to them (Joseph and Loretta) and the work that they do. They are wonderful community supporters and have always supported the arts and the Nat Gold Players. So it has been great fun to have the play based in a local radio station,” Lyne said.

Lyne said this is the largest cast to perform in a Nat Gold production.

“In fact, we’ve been talking over the last few days that we may have created a monster and will have to do another like-minded play next year.

PJ and Laura stand behind the microphones at MORE FUNN radio as a cast of wacky characters enter and exit the play, which is a production of the Nat Gold Players. Cody Ross Romero played the role of PJ and Jazzmine played Laura.

The cast of “Over the Edge” included mayoral candidates Lupe and Fernando Smith, a divorced couple running against each other for Las Vegas’ highest office. Agatha Birdie-Squat from the wildlife refuge and a cast of other characters had audiences laughing during its four-night run. This was the largest cast in the history of the Nat Gold Players.