We interrupt our regular Santa Maria BBQ programming today for a hearty laugh, or even a boo or a hiss, as we celebrate the recent renovations at the Great American Melodrama & Vaudeville in Oceano.

Indeed, along with his wife Lynne and a talented crew, owner John Schlenker has constructed a new foyer for the building and given the theater an overall facelift. Even the in-house pub has been remodeled, and the theater’s colorful performers still work the counter! The menu features a variety of comfort foods, including, of course, barbecue sandwiches.

Folksy piano tunes, cabaret tables and sawdust-covered floors greet guests as they file inside for a show. But the audience is in for a lot more than a festive atmosphere. Here, professional performers from throughout the United States gather to present top-notch productions of great classic musicals, original plays and Victorian melodramas, some of which invite “boo and hiss” audience participation. The latest production is Butch Cassidy and The Sunburnt Kid, which opens on June 16.

The Great American Melodrama & Vaudeville is part of a larger theater and music scene located throughout Santa Maria Valley. The nationally acclaimed Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts (PCPA) remains the only professional resident company on the Central Coast and stages fine classic and contemporary live theater plays. Meanwhile, the Santa Maria Civic Theatre is the oldest theater group in the region, and offers comedies, dramas and children’s productions.  Newer on the scene, the Santa Maria Philharmonic Society has been turning heads with its development of high caliber classical concerts as well as educational programs for children.

So if you’d like some cultural attractions to go with your wine and barbecue, you have plenty of options in the Santa Maria Valley.