Now in its 11th year, Lord Franzannian’s Royal Olympian Spectacular Vaudeville Show is a wild and wacky mix of things its fans expect — the red-cheeked, red-suited host, old-time music and unicorn worshipper Capt. Drift — as well as things they don’t — new acts, an accordionist and, well, Capt. Drift, who is a surprise no matter how many times you’ve seen him.
Drift, also known as Al Barney, is a helmeted combination of one-man band, comedian, and big, gray-bearded kid who loves unicorns. He’s been in most of the vaudeville shows, said Elizabeth Lord, a storyteller, actress, producer and theatrical impresario in real life as well as on stage at the show.
“I think of him as my lucky charm,” she said in a Monday phone interview. “He’s been in all but a couple of the shows with a very creative act always involving unicorns.”
Last year, Barney presented a “Unicorn Opera” enacted by stuffed toys embellished with horns.
Never miss a local story.
“Unicorns are shape shifters,” he said in the lengthy intro to the piece, described as a mini jazz opera. “They can be any animal they want, and I’m going to prove that in a minute.”
Any animal indeed: Among the horned toys romping on stage was a Bart Simpson doll.
Barney, who didn’t respond to requests for an interview, has become one of the best-known parts of the show, Lord said.
She recalled talking about the vaudeville show to a customer at The Brotherhood Lounge, where she works. “I said: ‘Oh, you should go to that show. It’s a great show.’ I didn’t tell her I was involved.
“She said, ‘Oh, I’ve been before.’
“I was like, ‘Oh, great. Do you remember the guy with the red coat and the red bandleader hat on?’
“And she said, “No. I remember the guy with the unicorns.’ ”
Postscript: The customer did figure out before she left that Lord was, in fact, Lord Franzannian. “It took her a while to realize that, I guess,” Lord said, “because I don’t look the same.”
Besides her work as the well-padded host, Lord will perform new skits between acts, and vaudeville musicians Scuff Acuff and Alison “Al” Metheny will be back with old-time tunes, joined this year by accordionist Donald Palardy III.
The show also will feature acrobats, burlesque, a contortionist, dancers, drag performers (besides Lord as Franzannian), puppets and original songs.
There’ll be some variety from show to show, too. The family-friendly Sunday matinees will add three young performers and eliminate some of the more risqué acts. Saturday-night shows will be missing a few performers who were available only Fridays and Sundays, and add new surprises.
Comedian/actress/burlesque performer Lauren O’Neill will appear for one show only, at 8 p.m. Oct. 15.
“She’s such a good performer,” Lord said. “I’d asked her if she wanted to be in the show this year, and she said she had such a busy schedule and couldn’t do it. But then when she learned this would be the last show in The Midnight Sun, she asked if she could take part.”
The vaudeville show has been a standby at the Sun, although last year it happened at Obsidian because of scheduling conflicts. The theater, which Lord managed for a decade, is set to close at the end of the month.
Lord Franzannian’s Royal Olympian Spectacular Vaudeville Show
What: Olympia’s home-grown vaudeville show, produced by Elizabeth Lord, is back with comedy, storytelling, acrobatics, dance, music and more.
When: 8 p.m. Oct. 13-15 and 20-22, with all-ages matinees at 2 p.m. Oct. 15 and 22
Where: The Midnight Sun Performance Space, 113 Columbia St. NW, Olympia
Tickets: $15-$25 at brownpapertickets.com/event/3070126 or at the door if available
More information: professionaltalker.com/vaudeville-show.html
Also: Evening performances are recommended for audience members 16 and older; matinees are family friendly.