In the Heights Reaches Great Heights!

A Utah Theater Review by Megan Pederson

“Where people come
people go
Let me show all these
people what I know
There’s no place like home!”

At the core of In the Heights currently playing at Pioneer Theater Company through the end of the week is heart, heritage and home. I feel like I should break out with some hip-hop dancing and rap this review. If I had the talent, I probably would! It’s hard not to want to embrace the Latin culture that courses through the streets of this heavily influenced Dominican-American neighborhood of Washington Heights, New York.

If you were to read a synopsis of the classic play Our Town by Thornton Wilder, it would tell the story of a town or neighborhood seen through the everyday interactions of its inhabitants. In the Heights takes the same approaching, letting us into the lives of these wonderful people who are simply trying to live, grow, dream and become. Continue reading

Spanish Fork’s Roomers is Rumored to be Fun for the Whole Family

A Utah Theater Review by Rebecca Gunyan

In September, Spanish Fork’s Harvest Moon Hurrah is the place to be. Starting the festivities this year is the two-year-old acting company, The Harvest Moon Hurrah Players, featuring a funny one-act play, Roomers.

Last night I was able to see Roomers, a show I am personally interested in because for a short while I was part of the cast.  I had to leave the show for personal reasons, but was excited to see how the show was able to come together. Continue reading

Find An Ideal Husband at Echo Theater in Provo

A Utah Theater Review by Larisa Hicken

When I heard that An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde was playing at The Echo Theater in Provo, my first thought was, “Where’s the Echo Theater?” I figured out that The Echo Theater is a newer theatrical venue located at 145 North on University Avenue in Provo, Utah. Their aim is to be an independent theater that performs a wide variety of lesser known plays and even new original pieces.

The building is still in the process of being renovated and converted into the beautiful theater I’m sure it’s going to be, so that meant really uncomfortable folding chairs that left my rear end throbbing by intermission. However, the actors did a fine job of distracting me and I was able to forget about my backside most of the time.

My favorite actress by far was Hailey Nebeker, who absolutely lit up the stage as Mabel Chiltern. She definitely had a clear understanding of her character, the sister of Robert Chiltern, and her vibrant energy was contagious. The playful scenes between her and love interest Lord Goring (played by Jared Lynton) were beyond charming and left me wishing for my own romantic encounter like theirs. Continue reading

SCERA’s Little Shop of Horrors Captivates Audiences

A Utah Theater Review by B.J. Wright 

 As a reviewer, sometimes you go into a show with high expectations. SCERA Center for the Arts’ production of Little Shop of Horrors was one of those shows for me. I was running through all of my favorite songs from the show as I drove up State Street in Orem to the theater. If you are not familiar with the show, it’s a story of an unfortunate florist’s assistant named Seymour who becomes a local celebrity when he discovers an exotic plant that has a secretive craving for human blood. In a press release SCERA explains that even though the show does not seem family friendly, director Jeremy Showgren has “made it like watching a cartoon, and focused more on the style than the horror of a man-eating plant.” I found this approach to the show to be very captivating.

                 As I walked into the theater, the set before me (designed by Daniel Whiting) was a signal that I was not going to be disappointed. As I made my way down the aisle, I was stricken with the barren graffitied wall of Skid Row, a rundown part of town where the play takes place.  Characters were walking across stage, entertaining the audience as we waited for the show to begin. There were several stories that would unfold in pantomime every few minutes, from a lonely “cat lady” who is curious what kitty treats taste like, to a drunk rummaging through the trash to find food. I was having so much fun anticipating what would come next, I barely noticed it was time for the show to begin. Continue reading

Utah Valley University’s Cato is a Visceral Experience

A Utah Theater Review by Larisa Hicken

While the majority of my friends and neighbors gathered together Saturday night for the much anticipated “holy war” between University of Utah  and BYU football teams, my husband and I headed for neutral territory at Utah Valley University to see the play Cato, A Tragedy written by Joseph Addison.

Since I was unfamiliar with the play, I read the UVU blog post about the show and did a quick Google search for Cato and learned that the play was written in 1712 and was about the life and death of Marcus Porcius Cato Uticensis who lived in 95-45 BC.  If you’re planning on attending the show on Monday, you can read a synopsis of the show online and I recommend that you do so before you go!

The play was performed outside in the Sorensen Student Center courtyard in the traditional style of ancient Greek and Roman amphitheaters.  After only a few minutes, I was regretting my choice of wearing shorts and wishing for some bug spray to keep away the mosquitoes.

The first impression of the show was given to us by the unique set designed by Chase Ramsey and Jared Lewis. The set made use of some excellent graphic designs by Trevor Robertson.  The designs and the entire set included items from several different time periods. Continue reading

Midvale Main Street Theatre Invites You to Dream With Them (On a Midsummer’s Night)

A Utah Theater Review by Ben Christensen

With temperatures dropping into the forties, summer is nearly over in Utah, but at Midvale Main Street Theatre midsummer is still going strong. I found the theater easily enough on Midvale Main Street (hence the name), which corresponds with Salt Lake’s 700 West. It’s a small, cozy theater with cushioned chairs set up at tables, dinner theater-style. As small as the theater is, it was sparsely filled last night, the opening night of the A-Muses production Be the Bard: A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I hope the production finds a larger audience between now and its closing night on the 22nd, as it’s a unique take on a Shakespeare classic that is definitely worth seeing—and participating in.

Photos by Beth Bruner

 

 

 

 

 

See, the idea behind Be the Bard is that the audience not only watches the play, but actually gets to be part of it. Before the play started, Rusty Bringhurst (Egeus/Nick Bottom) explained that the cast was a little shorthanded, so they’d need our help. Then throughout the play, cast members pulled audience members onto the stage, sometimes not-so-willingly, to play various small parts. Participants received cues from the actors, delivered a line or two, then returned to the audience. This unique approach to theater adds an x-factor to the performance, forcing the actors to improvise depending on how audience participants play their parts. It’s a risk, as demonstrated when one audience participant shattered the fourth wall by declaring, “I don’t want to be up here,” but the actors rolled with the punches and gracefully moved participants on and off stage without interrupting the quick-paced flow of the play. I was particularly impressed by Bringhurst, Bryce Kamryn (Francis Flute), Travis Hyer (Thesus/Peaseblossom), and Julie Benedict (Hippolyta/Moth)’s playful interactions with audience members.

Continue reading

Centerpoint Legacy Theater’s Little Women has Heart

A Utah Theater Review by Megan Pederson

Little Women is the story of four sisters struggling through life while dreaming, fighting, falling in love and crying. Centerpoint Legacy’s production of Little Women is charming and strong.

If you come from a close family then there will be moments of this show that touch your heart. As the March sisters experience growing pains and the hardships of real life, there is one thing that remains consistent and strong, their love for each other.

The production is a beautiful one, aren’t they all at Centerpoint? The set design (Scott Van Dyke) of the March home was eloquent and clean. Allowing for an open home, the back drop and lighting design (Austin Hull) showcased the moods and emotions that were being portrayed on stage. Continue reading

In Springville You Can’t Take it With You, Unless “it” is Smiles and Laughs

A Utah Theater Review by B.J. Wright

                Monday evening I braved the storm outside, and made my way down the hill to Merit Academy where You Can’t Take it With You is currently being put on by the Springville Playhouse. I rushed from my car into the school, and found my seat in the gymnasium. Yes, the stage is in the gym. Though that could tend to be a distraction, as the curtains opened I quickly forgot I was sitting underneath some basketball hoops and a scoreboard, and was magically transported to the Sycamore family’s living room.

                 Can you remember back to high school, being paranoid to invite your friends home because your family would end up embarrassing you? Then you certainly could identify with Alice Sycamore (Joni Newman) whose family does just that as her love interest Tony Kirby (Gregory Duffin) stops by to pick her up for a night on the town. The antics continue as Alice’s future in-laws, Mr. and Mrs. Kirby (Alan Nelson and Beck Wright) show up to a dinner party a day early.  This show definitely put a smile on my face, and even provided me with a few full-bellied laughs.

                 The one thing that stood out to me as a strength of this show was the chemistry between the cast. I did not once question that I was watching a quirky family on stage. I enjoyed Robinne Booth’s portrayal of Penelope Sycamore.  Her comedic lines and actions were always timed very well.  Leisl Cope brought a playful sparkle to Essie, Nate Warenski portrayed a carefree Donald, and Dominic Bills brought to life a clueless xylophone player in Ed.  I especially liked the camaraderie developed between Paul Sycamore (Mark Taggart) and Mr. De Pinna (Bryan Cardoza). Continue reading

I Get Shakespeare! You Should, Too!

A Utah Theater Review by Jennifer Mustoe, Caden Mustoe, and Tyrone Svedin

 “Most people don’t realize how amazing Shakespeare can be. For most, he is words on a page of some dusty old textbook. Grassroots Shakespeare Company brings Shakespeare to life – amazing, hilarious life.”
~Caden Mustoe, age 16, Front Row Reviewers Utah Reviewer

 

I am beginning my review of Grassroots Shakespeare Company’s The Comedy of Errors with a big THANK YOU. Why am I thanking GSC? Because of them I. Get. Shakespeare! I have gotten two C’s in my high school and college careers. In what classes, you may ask? Same subject, each time. You guessed it: Shakespeare. I’d read those tired old plays, and the iambic pentameter and the jokes that were probably completely understood back in the day would begin to swim on the page and I’d end up with a C on each test. Fie on Shakespeare was my unholy cry.

But now, with GSC, I repeat – I. Get. Shakespeare!

Last night, my son Caden and an actor friend and fellow FRRU Reviewer, Tyrone Svedin accompanied me to a rollicking performance of The Comedy of Errors, played on top of the Provo Center’s parking garage, across from Sammy’s. GSC usually chooses fun venues for their shows and this was no exception. Tyrone Facebooked me today and used the word “fun” three times in his comments about the show. It was fun. No doubt about that! Continue reading

Covey Center’s Wait Until Dark Has Thrills and Chills

A Utah Theater Review by Jennifer Mustoe

Last night, a friend of mine and I went to see the Covey Center for the Arts’ latest production, Wait Until Dark. As I walked into the lovely theater, it was filled with people eating donuts. I asked the woman serving the donuts if they were for opening night. She told me that Provo has a First Fridays Downtown Gallery Stroll. The Covey Center has a pretty decent art gallery, and they participate in this fun activity, which apparently includes free donuts. Note to readers: try to come to shows that play on the first Friday of the month if you want a free donut. (You may also want to check these activities out simply because they’re fun, even if there isn’t a play showing at the time. A little shout out for the arts….)

I have seen the film version of Wait Until Dark with Audrey Hepburn and loved it. I was pleased to see a movie poster of Breakfast at Tiffany’s on the wall of the basement apartment where the play takes place. Nice touch.

The play takes place all in one room, a basement apartment in Greenwich Village. Before the play starts, we hear traffic sounds and people walking in front of the windows which are at the back of the set.  Though the theater is expansive, as is the stage, the set is built in such a way that we feel we are really in a cozy, little apartment – a space that is even smaller when we begin to identify with the main character, Susy Hendrix, played by Aubrey Reynolds, who lives in darkness. Susy is blind, and her world is smaller than those of sighted people. Hendrix does a fabulous job convincing us that she doesn’t feel sorry for herself, but isn’t always happy with her new limitation. In fact, Reynold’s does such a good job I didn’t once miss Audrey Hepburn, and that says a lot coming from me. Continue reading