“Peter and the Starcatcher” at the Zig in Ogden is Sprinkled with Magic!

By Jennifer Mustoe

I got a little teary after Ogden’s Ziegfeld Theater’s production of Peter and the Starcatcher, a play about how Peter Pan becomes the crowing, flying leader of the Lost Boys and battles the sociopathic Captain Hook. Does Peter Pan mean something to you? He does to me—he’s part of my childhood. I have been trying to see Peter and the Starcatcher several times and just didn’t get it together, but wanted to see how it compared to the YA novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Peterson I enjoyed years ago when it first came out. I had preconceived notions of what I thought this production would be. I was right maybe 10% of the show.

And I’m thrilled that I didn’t know what I was talking about.

I’d never been to the Ziegfeld Theater in Ogden, but it’s a clear, lovely drive coming from Spanish Fork. As I walked into the theater, swarms of folks were in the rather cozy lobby, some buying tickets, some buying fresh popcorn. Yum! The staff is super nice and in fact, during the (rather long) intermission, someone from the staff brought around a teeny tiny treasure chest and gave a pirate treat (a small coin or tattoo) to the children. And me. Yes, I got a tattoo, too. By intermission, these kids were sold on the entire pirate experience and that little treasure chest got all the kids glowing. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Based on the YA novel, Peter and the Starcatcher places 13-year-old Molly (Jessica Lewis) (or is it 15? Inside joke—see the show to figure it out) on the slower vessel, Neverland, with a trunk of full of mysterious treasure. It looks like sand, but it isn’t. It’s Star Stuff (aka pixie dust—but this is never said. We who know Peter Pan stories know it, though.) On a faster vessel, the Wasp, sails Molly’s father, Lord Astor (David A. Boice) who has his own treasure chest filled with jewels. In come pirates, led by the ridiculously funny Black Stache (Trent Cox) who may have one of the best performances going on in the state of Utah right now. Trunks are swapped, havoc ensues.

Along with the pirates are three boys: Prentiss, played by a very funny Tyler Howard, Ted, played by a great physical comedian Gabriel Armstrong, and Boy, heart-warmingly played by Wyatt Welch, orphans all, who end up on the ship as slaves and are made to sit in the dark and eat worms. Yes, worms. Ick. These three characters are perfect together. The symmetry and synergy are unbeatable. I thought this was a musical and when I saw the live band at the back of the stage, I was sure. But Peter and the Starcatcher is only a sort of musical. It starts with a lot of exposition—telling the story. For the first few minutes, I felt anxious, like, when are they going to start singing? Then, it didn’t matter. I was involved in the show. However, the fabulous musicians (Piano/conductor Jonathon McDonald, Percussion Richard Marsh, Synthesizer Kyle Lawrence) provide background music throughout—which is marvelous. They play as you walk into the theater, too, and it is sublime. And there are a few ensemble musical numbers and the fish-turned-mermaid piece is absolutely delightfully hilarious. Kids and adults were clapping and whistling during this one. What the cast can do with fans and costuming that makes one piece of stretch fabric down one leg look like a fish fin is fantastic. Kudos to Costume Designer Kelsey Nichols.

Peter and the Starcatcher moves very, very fast—there’s a lot of story in this one little play. And director Jim Christian has his players moving, moving, moving all the time. Not in a weird, frantic way, but one that helps tell the story and keep us up to speed (small pun intended.) Timing is fabulous in this show and every cast member needs to be applauded. I’ve been to too many shows that l-a-g-g-e-d and I thought I would die of boredom. Not in this show. At. All. Thank you, to the director. This could easily have been a train wreck. The Zig’s Peter is anything but.

The cast is small—twelve players in all—and many play multiple roles, which confused me slightly, but not overly so. Everyone was wonderful, great synergy onstage. But shout-outs must go to Welch, whose last moments on the stage brought me to tears. No, I’m not telling you what he did. Go see it. And you probably won’t cry. It’s sweet, not sad. Welch is fabulous—good energy, sweet, vulnerable, strong, active. I bought him in this role completely. Lewis’ Molly is so sweet and brave and strong. Yes, Lost Boys, she’s the leader. This show is so filled with Girl Power all wrapped up in the one female role in all those males and the one brilliant actress in this group of great actors.  Heavily bearded Andrew Cole’s Mrs. Bumbrake makes you laugh just from his physical look—but he’s a great actor, too. The role is written that a man play this character and Cole is darling. Big, hairy, using a falsetto voice (and a Scottish accent as the mermaid Teacher—also great), Cole nails this part.

Cox as Black Stache is so crazy good, I am hoping this review compels you to get to Ogden and see this show. Cox is an amazing comic actor, with deftness, finesse, timing, physicality to die for. I could go on and on. I will be following this actor to see him as often as possible. My husband and I recently went to Utah Shakespeare Festival and watched Guys and Dolls TWICE. Our favorite actor in that show has no more talent, timing, or presence than does Cox. Yes folks, he’s that good.

The set (Caleb Parry) was serviceable in the small space and several rolling pieces are used wisely and effectively. I loved the big golden lake effect with a parachute and a golden light. LOVED. This show is heavy with lights. Often, lighting is just so mundane that you don’t notice it and that’s good. But Peter has so many light cues, so many lights and it was amazing. Parry was the genius behind this technical aspect of the show, too.

I’m not telling much of the story in this review. This is on purpose. Each story detail is delicious and I’m not giving anything away.

About the kiddos. The show is long (two hours?) and there were some very restless toddlers in the audience. This show is too good. Get a babysitter and come and enjoy it without having to worry about the littles. I would think kids over six or seven would like this show, but it isn’t a kids’ show, per se. There is one swear in it (damn, I think) and the mermaid number has only one female mermaid but all the rest only dress like female mermaids. Or mermen. Not sure. It’s funny, but just a heads up. The kids were laughing hysterically. There is a small snip of a scene where Boy is shown to be whipped. It is short and has no real sound effects or him in agony at the beating, but he does cry afterward. If your children are tender-hearted, take them out for a potty break during this scene or leave them at home.

I live a long way away and see lots of shows. If I could make it work, I’d go see this one again. I didn’t see Peter and the Starcatcher when it came around three different times. I am so remarkably glad I waited until I got to see it at the Zig.

The Ziegfeld Theater presents Peter and the Starcatcher by Rick Elice.                          Ziegfeld Theater, 3934 S. Washington Blvd., Ogden, UT 84403                                   August 4-September 2, Mon, Fri, Sat 7:30 PM Saturday matinee August 26, 2:30 PM     Tickets: $17-20                                                                                                                   Call: 855-ZIG-ARTS / 855-944-2787                                                                           Facebook Page          Facebook Event

“The Wizard of Oz” at On Pitch Performing Arts in Layton Brings Us All Home

By Kari Work

On Pitch Performance Arts’ (OPPA!) production of The Wizard of Oz is a reminder of all the things we hold most dear:  friends, family, and home.  Pitched Perfectly Studios, in Layton, is the ideal venue for such a message.  The cozy studio fosters one-on-one interaction with cast members and down-home goodness.

We accompany Dorothy (Lindsey Pagano) from Kansas to the bright and glittery world of Oz where she is befriended by the Good Witch Glinda (Candra Young) and a host of Munchkins.  They put her on that famous yellow brick road to see the Wizard (Kelsie Reynolds), who Dorothy hopes can help her return to her beloved home and family.  She is joined on her journey by Hunk/Scarecrow (Jake Adams), Hickory/Tinman (Indy Washburn), and Zeke/Lion (Brandon Stauffer), who also desire an audience with the Wizard.  Their adventure includes a series of encounters with the Wicked Witch (Sue Alvey) and her minions.

The vast distances covered in Wizard of Oz’s story seem challenging when compared to the size of the theater.  The director, Charlene Adams, handles this challenge well by using all available spaces for her players, including aisles, walls, platforms, and screens.  Her choices produce an interactive experience where the audience is in the land of Oz. The interactive fun continues for all ages when bubbles fall each time the Good Witch appears or snow materializes over the poppy fields.

The production team does a great job showing contrast between the two-dimensional Kansas (via screens and staging on the apron) versus the more three-dimensional Munchinkinland as the full stage (Stauffer), vivid colors and vibrant costumes (Amanda Larsen) are introduced. The high energy Munchinkinland sequence of songs including, “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” and “We Welcome you to Munchkinland,” may make you want to sing along. These elements announce to the world that “we aren’t in Kansas anymore.”

The show’s large cast ranges in age and experience but each of the leads shows their individuality and strengths.  Musical Director Catherine Washburn brings her actors’ voices to lovely harmonies and all the familiar songs we love are over the top great. Choreographers Seante Nelson and Bailey Adams get their cast, including 25+ children starting from age 6 and up, dancing with gusto. Pagano makes for a compassionate and confident Dorothy; Washburn’s Tinman is gallant and caring; Adams’ infectious smile and gangly movement creates a charming Scarecrow.  The young travelers are anchored by Stauffer, whose experience illuminates his comedic timing, physicality, and resonant vocals.  Stauffer’s rendition of, “If I were the King of the Forest” displays his rich timbre and endears Lion to us with his hopeful vulnerability.  Young plays Glinda with sweet sincerity.  The talented Alvey makes wicked fun and Brian Washburn rounds out the cast well as steady Uncle Henry and the clueless gatekeeper.  Most of all, the camaraderie among the cast shines through the performance.

If you are looking for fun, family-oriented entertainment, look no further.  The Wizard of Oz at Pitched Perfectly Studios takes you on a lively, music-filled adventure that leaves you wanting more. It’s community theater at its best.

On Pitch Performing Arts (OPPA!) presents The Wizard of Oz                                         Pitched Perfectly Studios, 1558 W 700 N #8 Layton UT 84041

Telephone:  385-209-1557, Email:  onpitchperformingarts@gmail.com                                                                                    

Aug 11, 14, 18,   7:30 PM;  Aug 12, 19 2:00 PM and 7:30 PM                                           Tickets $12

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Farmington’s “Seussical” was a Suessierific Family Production

By Becky Evans

I took my daughters to see Farmington City’s summer production of Seussical the Musical at the Farmington Arts Center and we all left singing and shaking our tail-feathers as wanna-be bird-girls.  As we learned more about the actors and actresses in this hometown production, we realized it was a show put on by families for families. Seussical follows a little boy named JoJo’s adventures in a town inhabited by Dr. Seuss characters including Horton the Elephant, Whos from Whoville, a General who is going to war with butter-side downers, Maysie the bird, a sour kangaroo, and many more.

Breanne Hendricks has worked tirelessly this summer as director and choreographer and it shows.  Derek Hendrick touches heartstrings with his on-pitch and sweet portrayal of Horton the Elephant caring for the Whos. Hendrick is also credited for designing and building the sets, which were lively and “Seussy.”  Rose Jenson costumed the show in a manner that defined who was who while allowing our imaginations to fill in the extra. Jenson is expressive and entertaining in her featured role as JoJo’s mother. She became involved in this production to spend extra time with her son this summer.

Hollie Lowell did a great job pulling big sound from a relatively small cast and her husband took turns alternating between the Cat in The Hat and the General along with the talented and extremely energetic Jason StowellAngie Burton rocks her part of the Sour Kangaroo with great facial expressions and dance moves although the sound cut out for some of her riffs and her vocal embellishments were hard to hear. Lowell’s daughter plays the bouncy young kangaroo and even looks related to Burton.

The actresses that stole the show in the hearts of my girls were the two bird girls: Lena Conatser as Maysie and Jamila Lowe as Gertrude.  Conaster’s energy was electric as she strutted and sang with confidence about her fabulous tail. Gertrude looks up to Maysie both literally and figuratively as she sets about trying to earn a tail like Maysie’s.  Although I would have liked to have heard her words more clearly during “All for You,” she sings with heart along with Horton in the “Finale” as they decide to care for Maysie’s egg together. It was a show-stopping moment when the egg hatches and an unusual creature is born. Ultimately, the powers of friendship, loyalty, family and community are challenged and emerge triumphant.

Seussical the Musical was a fun, uplifting show to bring the whole family to. Farmington’s production ran only one week, Aug 1-7 but if you would like to be involved in the next hometown production, they are having auditions for their fall dinner theatre Play On this Saturday, Aug 12 from 9:00 AM-12:00 PM at the Farmington Arts CenterKatie Evans is directing and is looking for 13 comedic adults to join in the fun.

Farmington City presented Seussical the Musical                                                       Farmington Arts Center, 120 South Main Street, Farmington, Utah 84025                   Aug 1-7, 2017  6:30 PM                                                                                                 Tickets: $7

 

 

 

Midvale Main Street Theatre’s “Andrew Lloyd Sondheim” is a Lovely Tribute Filled with Song

Andrew Lloyd Sondheim cast pic by Antonio Garcia

By Susan Knight

I’ve lived in Midvale for a few years now and was pleased when asked to review Andrew Lloyd Sondheim at the Midvale Main Street Theatre, right in the heart of Midvale.

Featuring the talents of Karli Rose Lowry, Jim Dale, Eve Speer Garcia, John C. Speer, Matthew Carter Speer, the cast sang, cabaret style, songs from Follies, Cats, Evita, Sweeney Todd, Gypsy, and more.

This production, held only one night, August 5, to celebrate the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Stephen Sondheim was, what Garcia called, a passion project—very aptly named. The passion for the songs and for each other was easy to see. Most of the audience consisted of family and friends—nice support for the quintet onstage where the fourth wall was broken many times for laughs.

There was no particular set. The stage held props that were probably used from other shows. The cast sat on stools with music on stands, and occasionally got up and walked or danced around and interacted with each other.

ALS Unexpected Song Garcia and son

Beginning together with “Broadway Baby” from Sondheim’s Follies, the singers broke off into solos, duets, and trios for the other songs—23 altogether—with an intermission in the middle.

The show was billed as hilarious, moving, and thrilling. Some parts were definitely hilarious, especially when Lowri and Dale sang “The Priest Song” from Sweeney Todd. Their timing was impeccable and Lowry is a natural for Mrs. Lovett. I enjoyed watching her facial expressions and gestures. Dale has played Sweeney Todd previously and was at ease and convincing in the part.

ALS Marry Me A Little Lowry

I laughed out loud at “You Could Drive A Person Crazy” from Sondheim’s Company. Lowry, John C. Speer, and Garcia sang the song to Matthew Carter Speer, who stood and took all the ridicule of the song sung to him with aplomb. Great moments.

Moving happened when Garcia brought her young son, Dan, onstage so she could sing “Unexpected Song” from Webber’s Song and Dance to him. Her voice has an incredible range, reaching the high notes with ease and ending on one of the lowest notes a woman could be expected to reach. I was also impressed with her range when she sang “Buenos Aires” from Evita. And when Lowery sang “Marry Me a Little” from Sondheim’s Company, I had to hold onto my hat because she filled the whole room with her voice and then quietly mesmerized us with her angelic soprano with perfect vibrato—all in the same song. Heaven.

Thrilling occurred during the very last song when the ensemble created five-part harmony singing “Sunday” from Sunday in the Park with George. Describing George Seurat’s Impressionistic paintings in a song was so poignant and full of metaphor. Now I want to see that musical. I’ll have to look for it. It really touched my heart. I felt privileged to hear their heartfelt interpretation and it was a wonderful farewell song to cap the show.

ALS Macavity MC Speer, JC Speer, Garcia

At the beginning of the performance, the elder Speer told the audience there’s a line about Andrew Lloyd Sondheim in the show “Rock of Ages” and that’s what gave the cast the idea to sing the wonderful songs composed by these talented men in cabaret style. And for trivia lovers, serendipity that Webber and Sondheim were both born on March 22, though 18 years apart.

This show was suitable for all ages, especially for those who love Broadway and ballads, and the evoking of our favorite memories of the theater. There were children in the audience and sometimes the cast graciously acknowledged them and sang to them. Garcia’s son was given cat ears and interacted with his Uncle Matthew who played Macavity in the song of the same name from Webber’s Cats. Cute.

I think my favorite song of the evening—if I could pick a favorite from so many superb renditions—was the elder Speer singing “Love Changes Everything” from Webber’s Aspects of Love. The words were so moving and really touched me. Speer’s voice was spot on and my friend commented how much she liked his voice.

ALS Being Alive-Lowry, Garcia, Dale, JC Speer, MC Speer

My friend had never heard most of the songs so it was all new to her. We were both a little confused why women were playing men’s parts when the men could have done it. For instance, Garcia sang “We Do Not Belong Together” from Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George to Lowry, who played George. It was also confusing when Lowry sang “Gethsemane” from Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar. Her rendition was amazing, but we scratched our heads at the casting choice. There were other songs she could have sung from that show.

Otherwise, the parts were appropriate for the person, even including when the men parodied the women in Sondheim’s Gypsy while singing “Gotta Get a Gimmick.”

The theater was small and intimate; the seating was comfortable with small tables in between every two or three chairs. It was sometimes hard to hear the voices over the piano, but this was not the case in all the songs.

Produced by John C. Speer, the performance was directed by his daughter, Garcia, and choreographed by Lowry. Musical orchestrations were by Alex Marshall. Tammy and Cassidy Ross of the Midvale Main Street Theatre controlled the board with light and sound.

The cost of the performance was “pay as you will.” As I said, this was a passion project and not done for the money, but for the love of the theater and the music. Here’s hoping there will be another cabaret-style performance in the future from these talented actors.

Andrew Lloyd Sondheim was performed one night only, August 5, at 7:30 PM at the Midvale Main Street Theatre, 7711 South Main Street (700 West), Midvale, Utah 84047. 801-566-0596      midvaletheatre@gmail.com                                                         Tickets were “pay what you will.”                                                                                        The next show at the Midvale Main Street Theatre is The Rocky Horror Show, October 5-21, 2017.                                                                                                           Facebook Page    Facebook Event

 

 

Dance Your Way to Beverly’s Terrace Plaza Playhouse to Take in the Fun of “All Shook UP”

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By DeAnn Patterson

Walking into Beverly’s Terrace Plaza Playhouse in Ogden, my husband and I had no idea what kind of evening we were in for. We are relatively new to the area. We had never been to this theatre before, and we had never seen All Shook up before.

Beverly’s Terrace Plaza Playhouse has been providing entertainment to the community for 25 years.  It was easy to find and parking was plentiful. On driving up, the building was clearly transformed from an old grocery store.  You would never guess that from the inside. It was an older, but fun and cozy setting with a thrust stage. We were warmly welcomed and quickly assisted in finding our seats. We definitely felt like we were closer to the stage and more intimate with the cast than in many theatre settings. The one downside is that the seats are very close together. It would be somewhat uncomfortable if you are not at ease sitting in close proximity to your neighbors. Because of the closeness to the stage, the sound was better than many theatres. We had no problem hearing any of the speaking or singing.

All Shook Up is a jukebox musical set in 1955. It is a rendition of William Shakespeare’s play, Twelfth Night. It is full of fun, toe-tapping music of Elvis Presley, lots of dancing, and a collection of fun one-liners and comedy.  Set in a small Midwest town, an out-of-town roustabout, Chad (Dave Clegg) comes riding into town with a guitar and brings in a lot of excitement, much to the dismay of the uptight mayor, Matilda Hyde (Carla Zarate.)

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From the opening song “Jailhouse Rock”, to the closing “Burning Love,” the cast is full of energy. It will have you laughing out loud, tapping your toes, and clapping along.  Samantha Wursten does a fabulous job as Natalie, a young female mechanic who dreams of love and adventure. She portrays a sweet, innocent girl who is instantly smitten by Chad, who unfortunately is not interested in “grease-monkey” Natalie. He has his eyes set on the museum caretaker, Miss Sandra (Stephanie Petersen.) Dennis (Zack George) is an adorably awkward long-time friend of Natalie who secretly adores her, and . painfully watches Natalie pursue Chad. The musical becomes humorously tangled and convoluted as Chad brings his influence into town.  It feels as if the entire town becomes entwined in a spider web of people attempting to chase their romantic feelings. All actors did a wonderful job and I believed their characters completely

Costumes by Jacci Florence and Jamila Lowe were great. Very time appropriate and fun—down to the blue suede shoes. Set design by was by director Ferrin and was simple but fun and appropriate for the small space. Music Director Brittney Ann made sure all her rockin’ singers did a great job. The harmonies were lovely, though to my husband’s trained ear, he said some of the cast strained on the higher notes. To me, it all sounded just great.

This is the first time All Shook Up has been performed at Beverly’s Terrace Plaza Playhouse. It is directed by Shelby Ferrin and choreographed by Kylee Ogzewalla.  We found the performance to be light and full of energy. The dancing and choreography is strong and engaging to watch.  Every cast member brings energy and humor to the stage. My husband and I both agreed that our favorite performance was by George as Dennis. He did a spectacular job portraying his character. We enjoyed the performance and would love to bring our kids back to enjoy it as well.

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Beverly’s Terrace Plaza Playhouse presents All Shook Up, an American jukebox musical with Elvis Presley music and book by Joe DiPietro.                                   Beverly’s Terrace Plaza Playhouse, 99 E. 4700 S. Washington Terrace, UT 84405 August 4-September 16, Monday, Friday, and Saturday, 7:30 PM                             Tickets $9-14                                                                                                                     801-393-0070                                                                                                          Facebook Page      Facebook Event

 

 

 

“Oh, the Places You (Should) Go” to Draper Historic Theatre’s “Seussical the Musical”

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By Adam J. Woodhouse-Keele

Seussical at Draper Historic Theatre is a great show for all ages, so you can bring the kids or make it a date night. Just don’t miss this gem.

When I entered the theatre I was met with a beautiful, colorful set. It’s lively and looks like it’s directly out of a Dr. Seuss book. After sitting for a bit, The Grinch (Casey Dean) came onstage and delighted the crowd with a “turn off your cell phones” speech in character. Dean is quite the entertainer and does some improv comedy based on crowd reactions during the speech and it was a very fun way to start the Suessical.

When the overture began, I was transported back to the other side of the curtain. Some backstory, I was involved in a production of Seussical and fell in love with the show. This show really speaks to me in a lot of ways. I’ve seen Seussical several times in addition to being in a production of it, so I had a high bar set for this show, and I was not disappointed.

The Cat in the Hat (Michelle Hickman) and Jojo (Ally McCune) light up the stage the moment they walk out. Hickman is animated and really commands your attention while she is onstage which, as the narrator of the show, is extremely important. McCune plays a more reserved and controlled character, which really helps to balance Hickman. They both work very well together to tell this eclectic story.

Though I enjoyed the vocals and acting of all three Wickersham Brothers (Paul May, Robert Van Noy, and Joseph Rose) I was blown away with Rose’s performance. At the age of ten, Rose takes the lead vocal solo during the Wickersham song, “Monkey Around” and he slays it. Rose’s stage presence is well beyond his age and with a voice to match, this kid is going places.

Horton the Elephant (Doug Cahoon) is a star even after a ten-year absence from theatre. Cahoon plays a loveable elephant who is just trying his best to take care of everyone. I believed his character emphatically and enjoyed watching him onstage. As far as singing goes, this man kicks it into high gear. Cahoon in tandem with McCune performed “Alone in the Universe” and it brought tears to my eyes. Though he deserves more than praise, I sincerely would like to thank Cahoon for sharing his talent with me and everyone who comes to see the show.

The directors Taylor Twitchel, Alix James Van Noy, and Max A. Moreno should be applauded for their efforts. The show is incredible and you should make the time to see Draper Historic Theatre’s production of Seussical the Musical.

Draper Historic Theatre presents Seussical the Musical by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty

Draper Historic Theatre 12366 South 900 East, Draper, UT 84020

August 4-5, 7, 11-12, 14, 18-19, 21, 25-26 7:00 PM Saturday matinee August 19 2:00 PM

Tickets $7-15 (not a bad seat in the house)

801-572-4144

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Bluffdale Arts Advisory Board’s “Singin’ in the Rain” is a Refreshing Downpour of Talent

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By Lucas Proctor

It’s hard to live up to such an iconic show as Singin’ in the Rain but Bluffdale Arts Advisory Board has a production at South Hills Middle School in Riverton that you shouldn’t miss

One of the first things to catch your eyes is the exciting costuming. There are colorful flapper dresses, fancy gowns, and suits and vests galore. Props to the costume team to get such a large cast so cohesive and colorfully costumed.

Growing up, I idolized Gene Kelly and know that playing him you have some big shoes to fill. Don Lockwood (Jonathan Cooper) is spot on and exudes the debonair spirit of an actor from that era. Cooper delightfully dances his way through the stage all the way to the title song “Singin’ in the Rain.” At one point in the show, the joke is that Lina Lamont (Ariana Bagley) is a triple threat because she can’t dance, act, or sing. Cooper is a triple threat but because he can do all three.

Bagley is also hilarious in her portrayal of the fluffy self-centered star (in the cinema firmament) and is apparently a professional costume changer. Bagley is in a different dress every time she comes on stage, further adding to all her scenes. Though portraying a character who is a ‘triple threat’ Bagley does have singing chops that she shows off in her solo “What’s Wrong with Me?”.

I always believe that the best (and potentially worst) part of any show is the humor. Who better to portray that than Cosmo Brown (Tanner Ayre)? He has a smile on his face from the first minute he walks on stage until the curtain call. Ayre kept pulling out the stops by playing the piano, singing while dancing, and popping up in places you least expect him. Ayre and Cooper really shine in their silly duet “Moses Supposes” and keep the energy high to the last note. Vocal Coach Eric Peterson has created lovely melodies with his singers.

The most endearing part of the show is Emma Tolman’s portrayal of Kathy Selden. Tolman is a great match to Cooper’s debonair and the chemistry Is magic. Their first duet, “Stepped Out of a Dream” has all the classic elements of stage magic and pulls you right in. Tolman dances on the stage like it was what she was born to do. Her voice is delightful and has an air of maturity about it that is a rare gem in community theatre.

My favorite number in the show is the trio performing “Good Morning.” You can’t help but smile as the choreography (Melinda Severn, Kerry Severn, Monique Welker, Tanner Garner, Alaina Stone) is extremely entertaining with an appropriate number of nods to the original. The supporting cast Is very fun and notable roles are R.F. Simpson (Clark Fox) and Roscoe Dexter (Jared Savern.) Directors Kelsha Peterson and Laura Garner have a production they should be proud of–it’s a lovely, fun show filled with familiar tunes and fun dance numbers.

The entire production exudes color and pizazz with splendid costumes (Chelsea BushSue ClarkLaura Garner)and bold choreography. This is not a show you want to miss so go out and support your local theatre.

Bluffdale Arts Advisory Board presents Singin’ in the Rain by Betty Comden and Adolf Green

South Hills Middle School 13508 South 4000 West, Riverton, UT 84065

August 3-5 7:30 PM Saturday matinee 1:00 PM

General Admission $8 Each, Seniors or Groups Of 4 or More $7 EACH

801-254-7728

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Catch “Brigadoon” at the SCERA Shell Outdoor Theatre in Orem Before It Disappears

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By Angela Dell

Lone bagpiper, James Moyar, stands at the top of the hill at the back of the audience and plays traditional bagpipe music in a kilt and hose before the start of Brigadoon at the SCERA Shell Outdoor Theatre in Orem. This is my first time seeing the original musical written by Lerner and Loewe, so I had zero expectations going in.

For those like me who are not familiar with the show, it follows two Americans, Tommy Albright (Logan Bradford) and Jeff Douglas (Sam Arnold), on vacation in the Scottish Highlands. There they find a magical village that only appears on the earth once every 100 years, unless someone from the village leaves. In which case, the village ceases to exist and the people are lost forever. Tommy falls in love with the beautiful and ever hopeful Fiona (Aubrey Rose Jackson) but must decide to either give up the life he knows back in America or his one true love.

Both Bradford and Jackson absolutely floor the audience with their amazing vocal talent. Bradford’s vocal performance history is extensive and impressive. His acting ability is consistent and dedicated. He gives his character depth and feeling as much while singing as well as delivering dialogue. This being Jackson’s debut performance, I’m absolutely stunned by the amount of talent she delivers. It’s not easy learning and maintaining a Scottish dialect, but she pulls it off superbly. She adds complexity and strength to her character that makes her a far more interesting person to follow onstage. Bradford and Jackson’s multiple duets throughout the show are a complete treat. Their duet “Almost Like Being in Love” is so charming and sweet, I heard audible sighs from the three girls sitting in front of me and my friend.

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Arnold’s devotion to his character is extremely apparent. Although his singing talent wasn’t specifically showcased in this production, Arnold is a talented 17-year-old with excellent comedic timing. He plays off his scene partners with a very natural sarcasm and never drops a line. Maggie Warren plays the formidable Meg Brockie, who just can’t seem to leave poor Jeff alone. Warren’s energy is contagious onstage. She gives her all in the song “The Love of my Life” in order to convince the reluctant Jeff Douglas of her suitability as a wife. The scenes with Warren and Arnold are absolutely charming and hilarious with their clashing desires.

The real reason we’re all here is to watch the dashing Charlie Dalrymple (Kyle Hansen) and sweet Jean MacLaren (Elizabeth Crandall) marry. Hansen’s understanding of his character goes beyond this production as he played the same character in a previous production in American Fork. His confidence onstage matches his character’s confidence about life. His character’s relationship with Jean is sweet and exactly what every girl wants in a guy. In the song “Come to me, Bend to me” he sings it with such care and humility, you’re grateful when she comes out and dances around him while he’s blind-folded to give him the assurance he needs when preparing for their wedding. Crandall’s performance shines during her ballet pieces. Her dance during “Come to me, Bend to me” is so sweet and meaningful, in tandem with Hansen’s singing, it makes for a beautiful piece.

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This was Christopher Gallacher’s first show choreographing and it was absolutely stunning. He used his background in folk dance to bring out the movement of the villagers in a symmetric and organized display. The ensemble did a marvelous job moving together as well as accomplishing the beautiful and sometimes complicated steps choreographed. Paired with Kelsey Seaver’s costume design, there is a veritable rainbow of color crossing the stage.  The set is easily movable and designed to allow for the impressive ensemble to dance, float, or chase across the stage thanks to set designer Shawn M. Mortensen.

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Director Jerry Elison is a hometown treasure to the local theater community. His hard work and dedication to this performance shows through as it does for all of his productions. His casting choices, blocking, and vision for the show was thoughtfully made and excellently executed. His devotion to theater shows through in this production.

The theatre is hard to miss sitting right in the middle of SCERA park but as there is construction on the parking lot on the east side of the theatre, parking may be limited so get there early. Also, bring bug spray as there are lots of bugs that come out around Intermission. If you are lucky enough to get seats in Section A or B, you have a white chair provided for you. If you opt to sit in the higher up seats, you can bring a blanket to sit on, your own folding chair, or rent a chair from them for one dollar. I’ve sat in the higher up seats with a blanket, and it was perfectly comfortable. They have concessions that are reasonably priced with an assortment of snacks or the option of getting a slice of Papa John’s pizza or a six-inch sub from Gandolfo’s.

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The SCERA Shell Outdoor Theatre gives us beautiful music, talented actors, and devoted crew that creates a show that reminds us “when ye love someone deeply enough, anythin’ is possible. Even miracles.”

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SCERA Shell Outdoor Theatre presents Brigadoon by Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner

SCERA Shell Outdoor Theatre, SCERA Park, 699 State St, Orem, UT 84058

August 4-19 Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturdays 8:00 PM

Tickets: $10-14

801-225-2787

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Sandy Art Guild’s “Beauty and the Beast” is a Magical Version of this Oft-Told Tale

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By Bridges Sayers

The Sandy Amphitheater, nestled away on a hill, is a treasure chest full of hidden theater gems, and the current treasure is Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Sandy Arts Guild continued their legacy of wonderful performances with their most recent performance of the classic tale of Belle (Jessica Sundwall) and the Beast (Jayson LeBaron) as they overcome magical spells, impossible circumstances, and ultimately discover that true beauty is found within. With music by the brilliant Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, and book by Linda Wolverton, this show weaves together the most adored parts of the original movie with some new, exciting moments.

Naturally, the show demands a large production, and Sandy Arts Guild pulls it off with grace and finesse. I was particularly impressed with the Beast. His voice is sheer perfection for the role. His rendition of, “If I Can’t Love Her” is nothing short of magic. LeBaron understands the necessity for both the softer and more powerful parts of the role, and each character decision exceeded my expectations. I have seen this show many times, and I have yet to see a Beast tackle the role with such raw talent. LeBaron left me wishing that the Beast was an even bigger part, because I never wanted him to leave the stage. His relationship with Belle is sweet and expressive. I particularly enjoyed their blossoming romance during the library scene—it is well-paced and delicious to watch. Sundwall, on her own, is a talented dancer. Her performance during, “Be Our Guest” and, “Me” are wonderful. While I did find some of her character choices to be somewhat too forceful, I was awed by Sundwell’s rendition of, “A Change in Me.” At that point, I was sold on her characterization.

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Sundwell is complemented wonderfully by her father, Maurice (Nelden Maxfield.) Clearly a seasoned performer, Maxfield tackles the oddball role perfectly. I thoroughly enjoyed his performance during “No Matter What,” and really bought into the relationship between him and Belle. His relationship with Gaston (Russell Maxfield) is similarly rich. There is a solid foundation built between the two characters, which paves the way for a greater understanding of what takes place onstage. Russell Maxfield is wonderful with creating those relationships, particularly with his henchman Lefou (Tommy Kay.) I adored the two of them together, though I suppose I shouldn’t say that about the villains. Gaston grows in his villainy throughout the show in a horrifying yet brilliant manner. We all know a Gaston of our own, and Russell Maxfield does a fantastic job of developing a character you love to hate. Kay brings humor to the scenes with his lovely physicality and his well-chosen voice inflections. The duo is complimented brilliantly by the Silly Girls (Kristi Gowda, Allison Klippel, and Micki Martinez.) The trio of girls are hilarious onstage and really bring energy to all that they do. I found myself laughing aloud at their antics more than once.

While I loved the townsmembers, the castle-dwellers are the clear stars in the show. Aaron and I bickered about who was the best amongst them. Our personal favorite was the natural star, Lumiere (Brandan Ngo.) He does not play Lumiere, he is Lumiere. Ngo understands the role in a way few do. His vocals during “Be Our Guest” are both flawless and enchanting. I particularly loved the consistency and clarity of his accent—it aided his characterization and never disrupted his ability to be understood. Very well paired with Lumiere is the uptight Cogsworth (Kevin Cottam.) Typically a role that is easily forgotten, Cottam brings energy to the role in a way that makes it unforgettable. His relationship with Lumiere is touching, even if it is full of bickering. The duo is complimented wonderfully by Mrs. Potts (JaNae Cottam.) Her vocals during “Beauty and the Beast” are lovely and sweet. I particularly enjoyed her relationship with Chip (Morgan Thompson. CC Keel plays Chip Tuesday, Thursday And Saturday), the youngest actor on stage. JaNae Cottam truly works to facilitate the success of Keel, who is a show stealer in her own. The whole audience couldn’t help but let out a sweet sigh anytime she was onstage. Other notable performances come from Wardrobe (Ashley Shamy) and Babette (Danielle Nielson.) They both nailed their accents and really had fun on stage. Their energy makes them both clear standouts.

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Director Laura Lerwill clearly understands the show well. The pacing of the show is wonderful, and though there are natural ups and downs in the script, there is never a dull moment. She is brilliantly paired with Choreographer Marilyn Montgomery. I particularly adored Montgomery’s work during the ensemble scenes, such as “Belle” and “Mob Song.” The sharpness of the ensemble is impressive. Technical Director Steve George does a wonderful job with such a large cast, ensuring that each person can be heard and gets their moment to shine. A clear star in the production staff is Set Designer Ricky Parkinson, who created a stunning, comprehensive set. I was surprised by how elaborate and beautiful it is. Costume designer Karen Chatterton created wonderful costumes for most of the cast, though I found Belle’s dress to be a bit dull for the role. However, her costuming of the Beast, Lumiere, Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts, and Wardrobe are truly gorgeous. The show is accompanied by a very talented live orchestra, led beautifully by Orchestra Manager Anne Puzey. I adore the music of this show, and the orchestra did a phenomenal job with it.

I want to thank the Sandy Arts Guild for being wonderful ambassadors for the arts—every representative I met or spoke with was incredibly kind and helpful. I always appreciate when theater’s show this kind of hospitality for all of their guests.

If you are looking for a fun-filled family night, come join the magic of Sandy Arts Guild as they present Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. This show is perfect for princes and princesses of all ages. If you’re hesitant to see it because you recently saw the live action movie, the stage version is completely different from the movie—and I mean that in the best of ways.

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Sandy Arts Guild presents Disney’s Beauty and the Beast by Linda Wolverton

Sandy Amphitheater (1245 E 9400 S, Sandy, Utah 84094)

August 4-12 8:00 PM

Tickets: $8-$16 (though there’s not a bad seat in the house, I must say!)

801-568-2787

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Syracuse City’s “Oklahoma!” is a Big Ol’ Helpin’ of Great

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By Emilie Laudie

“People may say I’m in love” with Syracuse City’s production of Oklahoma and they’d be right! This classic Rogers and Hammerstein musical won a Pulitzer Prize after its debut in 1943 and is still stealing the hearts of audience members 74 years later. Combine the perfection of the piece with the talent and the dedication of Syracuse City’s actors and production staff and you get a bright, beautiful experience that will make you think hard about the human condition as well as make your heart flutter to bursting. It really is well done and while there are some more mature elements in the script, director, Dixie Hartvigsen has creatively adapted the show’s darker moments to be quite family friendly.

Will and Annie1We find ourselves in a small dusty town in the then territory of Oklahoma, circa 1906. Curly McLain (Jake Swensen), a young cowpoke, has set his cap for the lovely and confident Laurey Williams (Cassie White), his childhood friend, now all grown up. Though Laurey also has feelings for Curly, the pair struggles to make a romantic connection in the beginning of the story due to their longtime familiarity and rivalry. Laurey lives with her single, middle-aged aunt, known affectionately by everyone in the town as Aunt Eller (Monica Zimmerman.) In Aunt Eller’s employ is a farm hand named Jud Fry (Jon-Paul Klepacz.) Jud resides in the smokehouse on the farm and lives a very inward, brooding existence there, all the while fantasizing about having Laurey for himself. Laurey senses that Jud’s view of her is unchaste and possessive and so she does all that she can to avoid him. Curly comes to ask Laurey to the upcoming social but finds it difficult to come right out and say it because of the terse way they are accustomed to speaking with each other.  As soon as Laurey is alone for a moment inside the house, Jud grabs his chance to ask Laurey to the social himself and she agrees to go with him out of fear. Curly decides that he won’t lose Laurey to Jud and sets off to win her and reveal to the town the type of man that Jud Fry really is.

The venue for the play is the auditorium of the brand new Syracuse High School. TheWhole Fam seats are comfortable and there is good visibility wherever you sit.  It is well air-conditioned and the technological components for sound and lighting are up to date. Also, the concessions are very affordable and the ticketing and ushering staff are very helpful to patrons.

All of the leads and principal roles in this production are well cast and well played. Averie Hull who plays Ado Annie, the silly, immature and overly lusty friend of Laurey’s, is charming and believable as she goes about seducing whichever man happens to be the closest at hand. She does a great job with her character-defining song, “I Can’t Say No” and her lanky loose body language throughout it is so amusing. Phil Tuckett who plays Will Parker, Ado Annie’s often chagrined lover and hopeful future husband, is great at being sweet and dumb and hopelessly in love with a girl who can only bring him misery. I enjoyed Tuckett’s acting choices regarding Will’s innocence and awe of Annie. He is very likable in spite of his ill-reputable behavior at times.

Eller and JudSwensen and White have very good stage chemistry and convey a very realistic and warm romance throughout the show. White plays Laurey as both strong and naive, sassy and soft, and Swensen plays Curly as simultaneously macho and vulnerable, making the two a very bold but soft-hearted couple whose love story we love to see blossom. When they sing their duet, “People May Say We’re in Love,” my heart just melted.  They both have excellent voices and contrasting yet very complimentary vocal timbres. More importantly, though, they both know how to act a song and don’t get so caught up in sounding pristine that they lose their humanity in the process.

Zimmerman does an amusing and endearing job with her portrayal of Aunt Eller. The one other performance of Oklahoma! I have seen made Eller a bit too masculine and, though the woman was a talented actress, I couldn’t relate well to her or find any grace within her portrayal. Zimmerman, however, plays Eller as quite motherly and dear, which makes for a fun and surprising contrast in the moments in the script where Eller has to be quite coarse and blunt with people who need to behave themselves. I enjoyed her performance very much.

As far as Klepacz’s portrayal of Jud Fry goes, at first, I wasn’t sure if I believed that he was brooding or obsessive enough to be worth all the worry that Laurey was feeling or all of the protectiveness that Curly was driven to, but shortly after Curly’s somewhat uncharacteristic song for a good guy, “Poor Jud is Dead,” Klepacz seemed to get more consistent and believable with his character. It does ring true with the very real fact that bullying and using intimidation tactics never helps anyone to become a nicer person. This is a very human, not so inspiring, moment from Curly and it can be a bit disheartening. As a parental heads up, this would be a great time for parents with kids in tow to help them understand that this was a poor choice from Curly and the fact that Curly is the good guy in this story does not make his choice to suggest that Jud take his own life is the right thing to do.

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Jeremy Howe does a great job in his portrayal of Ado Annie’s father and justice of the peace, Andrew Carnes. He sings well and is well cast as your typical shotgun happy, suitor intimidating father figure.  He is very funny and charismatic. Raegan Bradshaw is also perfect as the oh-so-annoying Gertie Cummings. And last but not least is Cameron Ropp as the Persian Peddler, Ali Hakim. Ropp is a young actor with amazing maturity and refined talent. I was impressed with his Persian accent and even more impressed with a very smart acting choice he made toward the end of the show (which I will not spoil for you) that will kind of blow your mind. You’ll just have to go see it to find out what it is.

I thought the large family ensemble did a nice job of supporting the main characters and really taking their roles as citizens of a small territory town to heart.  The dancing was good considering that the actors in this city production are not professionals and was handled well and appropriately by Choreographer, Jamie Godfrey. The decision to make Laurie’s dream sequence so very different from the way it is usually done was difficult for me to understand and was a little bit “other” for me. Laurie’s dream is usually very dark and scary with a lascivious theme so I can see why the directors wanted to tame it down somewhat in order to make a more family friendly show, but I’m not sure it was my favorite of their artistic choices. There may be plenty of people who enjoy this segment though, especially because there are lots of really cute kids involved and everybody loves cute kids.

The Syracuse Symphony’s live music was great and a nice surprise. So often community theater productions have recorded music, so this upped the enjoyment and impressive factor a great deal.

Overall, I really enjoyed this production. My husband Jim and I both loved the music, and the sincerity of it and, honestly, the fact that it lacks some of that perfect polish that we see in more professional theaters made it feel just, well, real. After all, it is a story of simple struggling people who live everyday lives and the fact that there might be a young child or two in the cast, kind of doing his or her own random little thing is actually more like real life than less. Go see Syracuse City’s Oklahoma! I am certain you won’t be disappointed.

Syracuse City presents Oklahoma! by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein

Syracuse High School 665 S 2000 W Syracuse, UT 84075

August 3, 4, 5, & 7  7:30 PM  Matinee August 5th at 2:00 PM

Tickets: Adults $9 Children and Seniors $7

Syracuse Arts Council phone number: 801-896-8101

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