Don’t Let CenterPoint’s “Hello, Dolly” Pass You By

By Ashley Ramsey

Some shows seem to find a comfortable place in the heart of Utah theatre goers, and Hello, Dolly is no exception. Set in New York, it follows woman of all trades and matchmaker extraordinare, Dolly Ghallagher Levi. She is currently employed by Yonkers’ most famous half-millionaire, Horace Vandergelder, in finding his second wife. Dolly, herself a widow, decides that she will be the next Mrs. Vandergelder and hatches an incredible plan to make the half-millionaire ask for her hand. With the help of shop clerks, Cornelius and Barnaby, and the magic of New York City, Dolly turns Mr. Vandergelder’s world upside down so it can align with hers.

CenterPoint Legacy Theatre’s latest reincarnation is carried by a solid and incredibly talented cast of performers. Aided by stunning costumes and a simply perfect set, you will find yourself gleefully swept back to the 1890’s. Delightfully paired as 33-year-old never-been-kissed shopkeeper, Cornelius Hackl (Dale Boam) and his young still having time to be kissed co-worker, Barnaby Tucker (Jordan Davis). Boam and Davis hit the stage with an energy and comedic timing that continues until the curtain drops. Romantic opposites to the energetic duo are Irene Malloy (Wendy Inkley) and Minnie Fay (Emily Wells). The two pairs shared a solid energy together that was highlighted in the number “Elegance”. It was easily one of my favorite moments of the show.

Oftentimes in musicals, a show is only as strong as its ensemble and this definitely holds true for this production. It was clear the ensemble was fully engaged and kept the show moving at a fantastic pace. The ensemble was assisted by Addison Welch’s choreography in telling the story through movement and crisp, clear diction by music director, Derek Myler.  Special acknowledgement needs to be given to the male ensemble who’s execution of the iconic musical number “Hello, Dolly” was quite fantastic.

Director, Jan Smith does a wonderful job of keeping the action moving and the stage full. The steady movement and flow to her blocking seemed to be reflective of the quick and very nuanced speech patterns of the character, Dolly. The concept of the set design by Scott Van Dyke assisted in smoothly and simply keeping the action going, without leaving the audience feeling like it was lacking.

Dolly is gloriously brought to life by Melinda Cole Welch. Ms. Welch’s performance is worth the cost of a ticket all on her own. From the moment she stepped on stage, she was Dolly. This was her world and her rules. Welch’s command of dictation in Dolly’s mile a minute lines was incredible. Her vocal performance was one the most solid I have ever heard. “Before the Parade Passes By” was as strong in acting as it was in vocal performance. Thank you, Ms. Welch.

Although Hello, Dolly is naturally filled with the strange quirks and absurd falling in love of a golden age musicals, CenterPoint’s production does its best to ground it in the all too familiar concept of change and decisions. Hello, Dolly is worth an adventure up North. I promise you’ll feel back home where you belong.

It runs until September 1st. Curtain at 7:30 PM. $17.24-$24.50

CenterPoint Legacy Theater, 525 N 400 W, Centerville, UT 84014, (801) 298-1302

Go and “Sea” SCERA’S South Pacific

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By: Oliver Holman

South Pacific is one of the classic musicals that define American Musical Theatre History.  Here we learn the story of the not so simple lives and interactions of American soldiers, Tonkin Island Natives, and French Plantation owners on an island in the South Pacific, based on the novel of the same name by James Michener.  It explores the relationships that people have with others of their own race and those of other races as well.

The SCERA’S South Pacific begins on a high note as we see the young brother and sister combo played by Anna Kocherhans and Nolan Larsen enter the stage and sing impressively in French.    They are soon joined on stage by our leading romantic couple Ensign Nellie Forbush played by Shannon Eden and Emile De Becque played by Rex Kocherhans.  The vocal ability of these four was pleasantly a lot better than I was expecting to get.  Eden’s voice soared effortlessly and was surpassed only by Rex Kocherans’ vocal flawlessness.  Larsen and Anna Kockerhans’ songs seemed as though they were taken straight from a professional recording.  As the show progressed, I was happy to learn that nearly everyone in the cast had a voice that was as good as you would want in a professional production.  Especially poignant was the impressive male ensemble, with music direction by Kathryn Laycock Little, when they came together to sing There is Nothing Like a Dame.

Though the vocal prowess was soaring, the acting was not as strong, though there were many fun moments in the show.  The father-daughter duo of Rex and Anna Kocherhans as well as young Nolan Larsen were able to show some honesty in their performances.

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Costume design, by Kelsey Seaver and Deborah Bowman, was interesting, but there isn’t must to work with in the script, and I did love Nellie’s costumes a great deal.  The choreography by Kristen Bradley wisely used simple steps for a large cast that can have many levels of dance training and ability.  The set, designed by Terri Griffin, was able to be productive through the many scene changes and helped set the mood and location well.  The strongest design element of the show was the sound created by Kendall Bowman.  Rarely do you see a community theatre production where the music and microphones and sound effects are blended without any hiccups for an entire performance.

The highlight of the night most definitely came at the conclusion of the show when the four actors mentioned above come together in a very beautifully directed moment by Jerry Ellison.  Suddenly I forgot everything else about the show and my heart strings were tugged as I watched a new family forming before my eyes and pure joy come over the face of the young Jerome played by Nolan Larsen.

Rodgers and Hammerstein will live forever in the history of Musical Theatre and the history of America as the first musical collaborators to bring meaning, purpose, and important lessons to their work.  Subsequently, the most difficult task for a theatre company performing one of these iconic pieces is to make sure these important themes and messages are made clear and don’t get lost in the engaging, toe-tapping, history-making music.  Is the domestic abuse in Carousel handled in a way that the viewer can see their own relationships?   In the case of South Pacific, are the irrational fears and discomfort around people of a different race shown in a manner that makes us consider ourselves and the unintentional lessons that we are teaching our children that can have dire societal effects in the future?  As you see this show, these are some of the questions you may want to ask yourself.

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In the end, I found the show delightful and definitely worth the $10-$16 ticket price it has.  If you are looking for a fun night to listen to some eternally loved show tunes with family, then this is the show for you!  Lay back on your blanket (this is BYOB: bring your own blanket), put on a little bug repellent just in case and listen to the vocally impressive cast of South Pacific.

Shows run nightly except for Sunday and Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. through August 13th.  Tickets may be purchased at www.scera.org

South Pacific

SCERA Shell Outdoor Theater, SCERA Center for the Arts, 745 South State Street, Orem, UT 84058 801-227-ARTS

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The Covey’s The Fantasticks is a Marvelous Love Story You Don’t Want to Miss

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By Jennifer Mustoe and Kendra Hill

One of the things I dislike about rom-coms is it’s all about the finding the sweetheart and getting the sweetheart. Just as they kiss to seal the deal, the movie or play ends with a big ol’ happily ever after. And it’s like–wait. That isn’t real life. Finding and getting the sweetheart is nothing compared to the keeping the relationship alive and well.

In The Fantasticks, there is a love story all right, filled with song and moonlight and sweet young lovers. It is resolved in Act One. In Act Two, though I don’t want to give too much away, that’s when real life happens. It is gritty, it is real, and it is ultimately satisfying–because it has a REAL ending. It isn’t a sad ending–don’t get me wrong. But it’s far more authentic. This is one of the many things I love about this show.

The lovers are Coulson Bingham as Matt. Luisa is played by Kelsi Jeffery. Both of these young actors make not one misstep. Their movement, characterization, voices and chemistry are perfect. I say this rarely. But they are completely believable. I wanted them to be in love. I mean, why not? They’re a great match. And as an aside, because I know Coulson, he stepped into the role the night before opening night. Yes, you read that correctly. He got everything memorized in one day. Bravo to Coulson and the whole cast for getting this great show off the ground. It takes a dedicated group of people to make this happen.

Kudos to director Agnes Broberg for getting this show to its sparkly perfection. She has plenty of movement on the small black box’s stage and has encouraged her performers to work in sync with one another in a most delightful way.

The story is that young lovers’ fathers build a wall (played by The Mute Nate Broberg, who not only plays The Wall but other mimed pieces and brings a lot of laughs) so that their kids won’t fall in love. But the fathers want their kids to fall in love. One of the cutest songs in the show is when the two fathers (Hucklebee (Paul Larson) and Bellomy (Marcx Haddock)) tell the audience (and there is a very thin fourth wall in this show) how they have planned for their children to fall in love by merely telling them they can’t. Fun song.These two gentlemen do a fine job in their roles. Their voices blended well and it was clear they were having fun with their parts. I wish I could have seen a little bit more relationship between the fathers and their respective children. But it wasn’t necessary to the plot and took nothing away from the production. When they get angry at one another in Act Two, it is hilarious.

The dads plan for An Abduction to take place so Matt can look like a hero and seal Luisa’s love for Matt. It will also help to convince the young lovers that the “feud” between the families is over. The Abduction is orchestrated by El Gallo, played by Will Hurwitz. He hires two actors, The Old Actor, played by Dane Allred, and Mortimer, played by Andrew Walsh, who is dressed as a Native American but has a Cockney accent are hired for the Abduction. Hurwitz has an amazing voice and stays distant as the Narrator. Allred and Walsh are fabulous–the parts require the actors to ham it up and boy–these fellas do this very well!

Everything worked well in this show–costumes for the ‘normal’ characters are just plain clothing and The Old Actor and Mortimer are great in their get ups. (I won’t spoil it for you.) What I found as I was watching the show and after was the flip-flop that happens between Act One and Act Two. Act One takes place under the moonlight. Act Two is under the blistering sun. Because we have been having such an amazingly (horrible) hot summer, the difference between these two acts really affected me. In the moonlight, things look lovely. But when it’s bright and hot and uncomfortable and crabby–this is when things get difficult. It is a believable metaphor and one that is important to think about. Should life always be accompanied with moonlight and kisses? Or is life more hot, under the sun and filled with discord? Or is it both?

I am waxing profound. Do not think that this show is brooding. It is not. But is it poignant? Is it memorable? Is it fun? Yes, it is all of these.

For a nice, cool evening, go to The Covey and see The Fantasticks. It is well worth your time.

The Fantasticks July 15 – August 6 7:30 PM $14-$16

Main Office: (801) 852-7007
Box Office: (801) 852-7007
Covey Center for the Arts
425 W Center St
Provo, UT 84601

 

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Romeo and Juliet is a Touching–and Sometimes Funny–Representation of Shakespeare’s Classic Tragedy

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By Craig and Jennifer Mustoe

Spoiler Alert: This play, which you are no doubt familiar with, ends tragically. But the journey getting there in Ben Hopkin’s rendition of Romeo and Juliet will surprise and delight you.

The set is sparse but what is there is very effective. I don’t want to give too much away, but the current political arena plays into the set and costuming. It is fun but really, also helped me in identifying who was who among the Capulets and the Montegues. Sometimes, you  just can’t tell. In this show, it is very clear and I appreciated that.

Some of my favorite parts of the show were these:

Romeo, played by Jordan Nicholes, was flawless. His character was consistent, passionate, and completely believable. I loved it. Underline loved. Kat Webb’s Juliet was fun. She had a different take on Juliet, playing her far snappier (think: bratty teenager) than I’ve seen done and it worked well. The chemistry of the two leads was not as steamy as I’ve seen in other shows, but it still was authentic.

Lynne D. Bronson’s Nurse was amazing. She didn’t make a false move, bawdy when needed but tender and sweet, as well. Her connection with Webb’s Juliet was wonderful. Lord Capulet, played by Joel Applegate, was marvelous. I was not as familiar with this part and when Applegate basically tells his daughter off, I felt that sick feeling in your stomach when your mom got mad at you for doing something wrong. He was that convincing. A character you love to hate.

Paris, played by Tyler Fox, was brilliant. His sword fighting was wonderful, and as he said after the show, “Laying there dead while mosquitoes were biting me was tough.” The mark of a true actor–discomfort for the sake of the show! I also loved Kocherhans’ Tybalt. He expressed Tybalt’s bitterness very well. Another character I wanted to punch in the nose, and I mean that in a good way. Friar Lawrence, played by Alisa Anglesey, was also a very believable character. I won’t give away her interpretation, but it was pretty interesting and worked quite well.

Archeluas Chrisanto’s Benvolio had many snappy ad libbed comments, which brought laughs. His scenes with the female Mercutio, played with style and sass by Noelle Houston, were a delight. Their chemistry is great and the timing perfect.

Music from a  playlist is played for some of the scenes. I’m not sure it was needed, though during the EXCELLENT sword fighting scenes, it heightened the anxiety and fierceness. Giant kudos to fight choreographer to Matthew R. Carlin. Honestly, I knew who was going to die before the scenes began, but I found myself thinking, just how are they going to do this? The sword fighting scenes went on just long enough, but as an actress myself who has been coached in stage combat, I can tell you the fighters did a lot of rehearsing to make these scenes this exciting. The music during the love scenes and the death scene make me tear up, so I’d say those songs added to the sweetness and eventual sadness of this tragedy.

The biggest downside to this show has nothing to do with the production itself, but as I’ve discussed before, it had a ton of bugs. I heard that last night’s performance was the first time bugs were a problem, but they were a Big Problem. All of us were slapping our faces and arms once the sun went down. So, bring bug spray. Spray it before the sun goes down. Also, if you’ve ever been to the Castle Amphitheater, it is made of stone. You have several options to make sure you sit comfortably. One, BYOC, meaning, bring your own chair. Two, bring a blanket to sit on. The rock is hard and also warm, so bringing your own seating options is essential.

I would recommend Romeo and Juliet for those of you who love the play, love Shakespeare or are wanting a sweet, romantic, funny, and poignant evening of theater.

Renaissance Now Theatre & Film presents, Romeo & Juliet at The Castle Amphitheatre. 1300 East Center St., Provo, UT 84606 (behind the hospital and up the hill.)

Thursday, Friday, Saturday; July 21-24, July 28-30, August 4-6. Mondays are FAMILY NIGHTS: July 26th and Aug 1st.

Ticket prices are $8 general, $5 students and seniors, $20 group of 4, and $25 per family. Thursday performances are pay-what-you-will, and donations will be taken at the entrance. Cash and major credit cards accepted.

Please go to www.RenaissanceNow.com for more information. Tickets, cash or credit, at the door or through http://smithstix.com/profiles/profile/17008/castletheatrefestival

Marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, Utah Humanities will sponsor a selection of FREE pre-show events entitled, “SHAKESPEARE: OUR CONTEMPORARY.”

July 29: Dr. KATHY CURTISS, “Shakespeare and Identity;” a community art project/sonnet share.

July 30: Dr. KATHY CURTISS, FTC, “Gender roles & Generation in Shakespeare.”

August 4: SARAH RE, HOFSTRA, “Shakespeare: the measure of the man, by the garments he hath on.”

August 5: Dr. TIM SLOVER, UNIVERSITY OF UTAH, “Shakespeare’s Invention of Word & Language.”

Hamilton’s Earliest Ancestor, The Music Man, a Visual Delight at Sundance

By: Oliver Holman
“He’s a what, he’s a what, he’s a music man!”  Aside from some of the most famous show tunes ever written, The Music Man has made its mark on society as the first “rap” musical paving the way for shows like Lin Manuel Miranda’s In The Heights, Bring It On and most famously, Hamilton.  If you can’t afford the plane ticket and $800 seat to see Hamilton in New York, you may consider checking out The Music Man at Sundance Summer Theatre.

The Music Man is a classic musical that tells the story of a traveling salesman, Harold Hill, at the turn of the century and how the local librarian turns him from a conning, unsympathetic pick-pocket to a man in love and one who cares about others.
Director Stephanie Breinholt does a wonderful job at bringing together all of the design elements into one beautiful production.  Of greatest note is the set design by Stephen Purdy.  The die-cut style set mixed so beautifully with the backdrop of the pine trees and the costumes designed Amanda Shaffer.  The many different and spectacular hats used throughout the show were a special treat.  The lighting designed by Jill Loveridge provided ample visibility and kept from being distracting most of the time.  Although the sound designed by Jason Jensen was satisfactory, I do feel that for a $36 ticket in a large theater with ample space, a live orchestra would have added a good deal to the performance quality.

The choreography put together by Nathan Balser was mostly fitting and appropriate throughout the show.  He managed to turn what I usually find the most awkward part in the show, “Shapoopi,” into the highlight of the evening with unending spectacular dance and acrobatics.  His collaboration with Ms. Breinholt on the transitions between scenes was just right and kept the show moving without any awkward pauses or scene changes.

The vocal ability of actors across the board was stunning as one would expect.  Rachel Woodward Hansen as Marian Paroo and Joseph Swain, Stephen Breinholt, Mike Ramsey and Paul McGrew as the singing school board quartet were the obvious standouts vocally.  The strength of acting however was somewhat spotty.  The most honest and believable performances came from Brett Griffiths as Marcellus Washburn, Laurie Harrop-Purser as Mrs. Paroo, Elizabeth Hansen as Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn and Madison Dennis as Ethel Toffelmier.  Though Greg Hansen struggled with some of the difficult rhythm and words of the part of Harold Hill, his honest and true relationships highlighted by the natural chemistry with his wife, Rachel Woodward Hansen as Marian Paroo, and the true love you could feel for young Winthrop played by Gabriel Stone was a breath of fresh air and brought meaning and purpose to a script that is often criticized for rewarding the liar.

I was slightly disappointed to not see more children on the stage throughout the show.  The lack of younger children caused a few awkward moments including partner dancing between young kids and adults and a River City Boys Band mostly consisting of older men and women/girls dressed up like little boys.  The one young girl in the ensemble, Bell Warren, did a fantastic job of keeping herself a relevant character in the show which is difficult for a 10-year-old girl, but she pulled it off.

My favorite moment of the show came toward the end of the first act when Stephanie Breinholt ingeniously uses a down part of the song “My White Night” to set up the sad life of little Winthrop as we see him teased by another kid and pushed over.  Amaryllis (Lauren Randall) then helps him up and gives him a kiss on the cheek.  The emotions in this moment were raw and beautiful and very well performed by the pair of young actors as well as the young bully Emerson Earnshaw.

Breinholt chose to employ the use of the aisles and seating area quite consistently throughout the performance.

To me, the most important thing about theatre is to make sure the message you want to share gets across and the direction by Stephanie Breinholt does exactly that.  In a show that is often considered out of date and misogynistic, Breinholt was able to strip that down and show us a strong, independent Marian Paroo that makes her own decisions and a flawed Harold Hill that eventually realizes that what he was doing was wrong bringing us to a beautiful conclusion.

At $36 a ticket you would expect the show to be near the quality of the Utah Shakespeare Festival, twice the quality of Hale Center Theatre in Orem and 3-5 times the quality of a community theatre show in the area. However, it was certainly a good production and one worth seeing and bringing your family to.  Performances run Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays through August 13th at 8:00 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at www.sundanceresort.com

Spanish Fork’s Joseph is New, Fresh and Worth Seeing

joseph2By Mary Garlitz

So you think, okay someone is doing Joseph again in Utah Valley.  Not a big surprise as this is a favorite among this area. However, I went into Spanish Fork Community Theater’s version with an open mind and excitement to hear all of my favorite songs again.  I was not disappointed.  I was delighted and enchanted by their take on what can sometimes be a pedantic retelling.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat tells the Biblical story of Joseph and his coat of many colors. Joseph is his father’s favorite son and a boy blessed with prophetic dreams. After being sold into slavery by his jealous brothers and taken to Egypt, Joseph is purchased by Potiphar and eventually thrown into jail. When news of Joseph’s gift to interpret dreams reaches the Pharaoh, Joseph ends up as his second in command. Eventually his brothers, who are starving from the famine Joseph predicted, come to beg for mercy and food from Joseph, whom they no longer recognize. After testing them, Joseph reveals himself and is reunited with his family.

Daniel Fifield in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat 2016Director Rock White and his production staff took this familiar story and really took it up a notch.  Mr. White did his homework and went along with Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s original vision for the show; not to spoil anything but it is a great trip through time.  I could tell the cast enjoyed this fresh take on a classic.

There are many that stand out in this production but two that I especially liked were the costumes (over 300 of them!) and the dancing.   I can’t imagine putting together that many costumes, let alone the logistics of having all of those people change so quickly, but Larisa Hicken and her crew did a tremendous job getting everyone outfitted and back onstage for their cues.

Costumes in SFCT's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat 2016

SFCT Joseph 2016 ChoreographyBethany Taylor has been choreographing on and off for Spanish Fork for many years and I think she may have outdone herself this year.  The variety, style and complexity of the dancing literally had me on the edge of my seat just waiting to see what would be next.

All of the vocals in the show were good as well. And the live band that accompanies the show is good enough to get your toes tapping. They rock! At first I was not sure about their take on the narrator, but by the end I loved what they chose to do and felt it complimented the show well.  I would give a shout out to them for this device, but won’t say any more as I don’t want to ruin the surprise. I will say the blending and harmonies were fantastic.

Daniel Fifield seemed a little unsure at first in his role as Joseph, but by the stirring, “Close Every Door” I felt like he really stepped into Joseph’s shoes and made it his own. Jordan Toney as Pharaoh also was a standout in his role, and really owned the stage. All of the brothers and their “wives” were great as well.  Each brought something different to the role and really danced their little hearts out. An especial standout would be Producer Ken Jensen in the role of Simeon performing the Canaan days number with equal humor and tragedy.

Ken Jensen in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Children's Chorus SFCT Joseph 2016The entire cast was fantastic from the adorable Children’s chorus with their spot on vocals to the ensemble that filled in admirably and brought just the right fill to round out the scenes.

Go see this show.  Yes it’s community theater, but they do fantastic job, and some of the best shows I’ve seen have come from the humble casts and crews of local theater.

Performances run tonight through Saturday July 23rd at 7:00 pm at Spanish Fork High School with a Matinee Monday July 25th at 4:00pm. The address is 99 North 300 West in Spanish Fork. Tickets are $10 for adult. $8 for students and seniors. $6 for children. Purchase tickets online.

Seek Out the Scarlet Pimpernel at the Springville Playhouse!

By Megan Graves

In a modern media world that repeatedly portrays dramatic rescues, rebellion, spies, and government intrigues, the story of the Scarlet Pimpernel has all that and more, presented in a unique way on the stage that brings you closer to the sword fights, suspense and drama then you could get just on any dimmed, elusive screen. Though I had practically memorized the soundtrack to the Scarlet Pimpernel musical a few years ago, I had still postponed seeing the show because I thought I knew the story so well after having read the book and watched the movie a few times. However, I was pleasantly surprised by unique, new, characters, a stellar presentation done by cast and crew, as well as a different ending than either the book or the movie. It is worth it to see the musical even if you already know the story, and Springville Playhouse does a stellar job at their depiction of war-torn France and the unlikely heroes who saved innocent people from Madam Guillotine and the mob mentality of the French Revolution.

The cast had excellent costumes.

The cast had great depth of vocal and acting talent, and excellent costumes to boot.

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Man of La Mancha is a Lovely Message in a Lovely Musical

By Michael Todd

Man of La Mancha, a play with in a play, is about a man Cervantes who tells a story about a “mad” knight Don Quixote who set out to find adventures with his squire, Sancho Panza. Man of La Mancha is written by Dale Wasserman lyrics by Joe Darien and music by Mitch Leigh, based off the book Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes.

The set designed by Terry McGovern was breathtaking, though a little too clean. I wanted it scruffier and more like a dungeon. But there wasn’t a part of the set that didn’t match. The drawbridge stairs to get into and out of the dungeon was pure genius.

The director, Carol LaForge and assistant director Terry McGovern, did an amazing job—though there  were moments of different actors upstaging one another. But overall, each scene was blocked well and I stayed focused on the important parts of the play and keep the distractions at bay.

Choreographers Pamela Giles and Sarah Wilson chose playful simple dances and this worked well, but I would have liked to see a little more movement.

Costumes, hair and make-up by JoAnn Gebs, Katie Fowler, were very true to the time period.  Vocal Direction by Cassidy Ellenberger was clear and excellent—her singers sounded marvelous. All the actors not only sounded great, they remained in character. The orchestra was played beautifully directed by Marilyn Syra. However, I wish they’d been a little louder but that could be the acoustics of the auditorium and where I was sitting.

Don Quixote Cervantes played by Rand Johnson gave a breathtaking performance. Just as the song says, “To Reach the unreachable, the unreachable, the unreachable star and I’ll always dream the impossible, the impossible dream yes, and I’ll reach the unreachable star.” Johnson truly had star quality in this production.

Sancho Panza played by Randy Turnbull, had a great character and lightened up the stage when he was onstage. Aldonza/Dulcinea played by Kathryn Hawley was a powerhouse on stage, I enjoyed seeing her character evolve from the kitchen serving girl born in the dirt and cater to scum to the Lady Dulcinea, helping a madman see the effect he had on the world and your character. You beautifully expressed each emotion from anger and hatred to curiosity and then to love and desire.  Other notable players were Nick Ellsworth who played the Governor/Innkeeper. I enjoyed how contrasting his two characters were. Anselmo played by Eli Unruh has the beautiful solo in Little Bird. Tony Ellenberger as Pedro—he plays a mean and nasty character very well. An honorable mention to Padre played by Colton Fowler—he had me fooled into thinking he was an actual clergy man. Truly, if it wasn’t for everyone cast in this show, it would have fallen flat, for each actor and actress on the stage made the production shine.

I was very touched by Man of La Mancha and highly recommend this show.

The production runs nightly June 15th to June 25th, except Sunday, at Tooele High School Auditorium. The show starts at 7:00 pm. Tickets are  $10 for adults (12+), $7 for senior (65+). Make sure you grab your snacks and bathroom breaks before the show for there is no intermission, the show is about 2 hours running time

The Ziegfeld’s Rock of Ages is 80’s-Filled Fun

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By Cindy Whitehair

We took a journey back in time, to Ogden Utah circa 1985 to see the Utah premier of Rock of Ages at the Ziegfield Theater.  If you think you know the plot for this show based on the movie starring Catherine Zeta Jones, Tom Cruise and Russel Brand, think again.

The first thing you encounter as you enter the theater is a gritty looking, multi-level (multi-function set) that is designed to be your backdrop for the seedy Bourbon Club on the Sunset Strip of the mid ’80s.  Designed by Erica Choffel, it really worked well for the Zieg space and helped facilitate the nonstop action that took place throughout the show.  It was also great camouflage for the speakers that were needed for the live rock band that was playing throughout the preshow, show and most of the intermission.

The band, aka The Arsenal, consisted of Rick Rea (keyboard), Jacob Lambros (guitar), Matt Conlin (bass), Cameron Kapetanov (drums) and Lindsay Kapetanov (cowbell) was superb.  When you can go effortlessly through Ozzy (Crazy Train), Blue Oyster Cult (Don’t Fear the Reaper) and Guns & Roses (Paradise City)–well, you got this ’80s gal hooked.

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If you lived during the ’80s, then you know without a doubt that Costumer Alina Gatrell nailed the costumes.  There was lots of mesh, funky, clunky heels, bright colors and concert t’s that were the staple of any ’80’s child’s wardrobe.  The hair was *B*I*G* thanks to Wig and Makeup designer Dee Tur’one and oh my, that blue eyeshadow!

The cast did a great job conveying the fun of this show.  A couple of shout-outs though to JJ Bateman (Lonny), Natalie Nichols (Sherri), Jake T. Holt (Drew), Brent Jorgensen (Hertz) and Derek Gregorson (Stacee Jaxx/Father).  Each had their stand out moments during the show but it was Bateman’s Lonny that was the chronic scene stealer as the show’s narrator. His duet (I Can’t Stop This Feeling Anymore) with Daniel Akin (Dennis) was very sweetly, lightly, and humorously played.

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But the biggest shout-out simply has to go to the ensemble.  They were sharp, they were synchronized–there was no hiding.  They were leaping off of platforms, hanging from the pole dancing poles, running up and down stairs, and just making choreographer Heidi Potter Hunt’s bold choreography look amazing.  We had more fun just watching them dance!

The only real problem that we had with last night’s show was the sound.  There were times when the actors were drowned out by the band, either due to bad mixing or mics not working.  It was usually caught and corrected, but it did make for uneven sound quality in a show that demands outstanding sound quality.

rock2All in all, director Trent Cox did an outstanding job keeping this herd of cats going in the same direction.  This show is frantic and frenetic and it takes a director with vision and finesse to keep it contained but still right on the edge.

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If you love ’80s music, then Rock of Ages is the show for you.  One word of caution though, while significantly toned down from the movie, this play does carry a mild “R” rating.  There was implied drinking and drug use, a lot of bumping and grinding in the dancing, and implied sexual situations and more than a little swearing.  If any of that offends you, you are probably better off skipping this one.

However for us, it was well worth our time to make the 45-minute drive to Ogden for this show.  If you get the chance to see it before it heads up to the Egyptian in Park City, go.  You won’t regret it.

Rock of Ages presented by the Ziegfield Theatre Company.  Tickets are $20.00 and are available at the door or at their website www.zigarts.com http://www.theziegfeldtheater.com/

Ziegfield Theatre Company, 3934 Washington Blvd (Hwy 89), Ogden Ut 84403

Remaining Performances: June 17, 18, 24th 7:30 PM, June 25th 7:30pm with a 2 PM matinee on June 25th

Pinnacle’s Titus Adronicus is a Wonderful, Intense Take on this Shakespeare Tragedy

titus

By Perry S. Whitehair

On Thursday, I had the pleasure to see my first show at Pinnacle Acting Company. Pinnacle Acting Company chooses to produce classic and contemporary classic works of theatre. So upon hearing that they chose to re-envision William Shakespeare’s classic tragedy Titus Andronicus, I knew that I must take advantage of this.

The show was set in an all-women’s penitentiary in an intimate style black box with only a platform on house right and chalkboard just upstage of center. Fun fact, if you are seated in the front row there is a crowd scene where the actors encourage you to interact with them, breaking the fourth wall. The adaptation and the setting really worked out well for the director L.L West as they made great use of all of the set pieces, which helped the audience understand what happened and when we changed locations in the play.

The story follows Titus who comes home from war with prisoners in tow. Tamora, Queen of the Goths pleads to Titus to spare her son from sacrificing him for the bloodshed that occurred in the wars away from Rome. Titus refuses and thus kills Tamora’s son and leads Tamora to plot her revenge on Titus and his family for the pain that he caused her. We see the systematic and thorough plotting of Tamora nearly bring Titus to insanity. Romans are nervous of getting in between these forces and what they want. Don’t miss the twists and turns that occur that nearly bring Titus to his knees in agony.

To compliment one single actress in the cast would be foolish as the ensemble of Goths, Romans, and even the security guards really contributed to the action that took place on stage. No one ever pulled focus from where the attention needed to be in the moment of the play. That being said, I was especially impressed with the amazing work and acting choices of April Fossen (playing Titus), Anne Louise (Lavinia), and Melanie Nelson (Tamora. Each of these ladies had me connect with their characters stories and either empathize with them (Fossen and Louise) or often makes you love their anti-hero character schemes in the case of (Nelson). To bring all of these characters into the same believable world was pure joy, to which I give the utmost credit to the director for doing what often can be forgotten when creating a show. They highlighted the comedic moments in an otherwise very dark Shakespearean tragedy.

Sets and lighting were nothing to gawk at as they are located in an educational black box space but both served the purpose of the actors and the play effortlessly. This show is not meant for faint hearts as many deaths and other horrendous subject matter occurs on and off-stage but if you have the means and time to see this show, don’t walk but run to it. Find time to see a different take on a classic piece of theatre history from Shakespeare and his time.

Titus Andronicus

Pinnacle Acting Company,  1250 E 1700 S, Salt Lake City, UT

Ticket inquiries: 801-810-5793

www.pinnacleactingcompany.org

Ticket prices: $18 adults, $15 seniors and students (with valid ID), $15 matinee, Groups of 10 or more $13. (Call ahead to reserve).