The Turn of the Screw and other Ghost Stories is Genuinely Creepy

A Utah Theater Review by David Henry 

The Echo Theatre in Provo put on another quality production with The Turn of the Screw, written by Henry James, adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher and directed by Jeffrey Lee Blake. The addition of other short plays before the main feature were a great primer for The Turn of the Screw, and they included Buried, by C.L. Julander, Alone and …And She Smiled, both by Jeffrey Lee Blake. Impeccable acting brought all of these stories to life, and a genuine creepiness that alternately made me smile or made my skin crawl.

The first play was Buried, by C. L. Julander, in which Elizabeth, played by Hailey Nebeker, is a mother seeking to flee her marriage to Daniel (David Lassetter). An eagerly in love Jacob (Chris Bentley) stands waiting to provide her escape. When the couple is confronted by Daniel, secrets start to come out about the children supposed to join them in their flight, and the fragile mental state of Elizabeth. This was very well written, with an interesting twist, and superbly acted. Hailey was chaotic in her emotions, and leant a real sense of urgency and desperation to her character. Chris was very genuine as Jacob, and made his character believable. David took a character who seemed one dimensional at first, and showed us many sides of his character and emotions. Overall this was an excellent piece, and started the night off perfectly. Continue reading

A Playful Production of Androcles and the Lion at UVU

A Utah Theater Review by Josh Tiedeman

Recently I had the opportunity to see Androcles and the Lion performed in the Noorda Theatre at Utah Valley University. If you have never been to the Noorda Theatre it is on the east end of campus, connected to the Gunther Trade Building. The theater has an intimate setting as well as the ability to arrange the space in several different theater styles.  For this production they have set it as a proscenium, which is the more “traditional” style of theater.

I was not aware of the type of show that I was walking into with a name like Androcles and the Lion – it could be anything from a drama to a comedy.  As I walked into the theater, there were two clowns (Emma Christopherson & Zachary Cotter) “warming up” the audience.  I thought it was a clever way of setting up the style for rest of the show that follows. The clowns showed off instruments that were going to be used throughout the rest of the show.  I really enjoyed the way that Emma Christopherson brought the audience in and made it very comedic. Her responses to the crowd were fantastic and she was a delight to watch.

Androcles and the Lion is about a slave named Androcles (Ryan Cluff) who is trying to help Princess Isabella (Sharayah Anderson) and Prince Lelio (Shawn Saunders) come together in their love while the evil Pantalone (Briana Lindsay) wanted to keep Isabella all to herself. In Androcles’ efforts to unite the two lovers, he had to get Isabella her gold that she misplaced and along the way met a Lion (Matthew Price Davis) who at first seems frightening but once they get to know each other becomes really quite an amazing friend. Continue reading

Pinnacle Acting Company’s Lion in Winter Needs a Bit More Warmth

Utah Theater Review by Joel Applegate

The Lion in Winterby James Goldman as presented by the Pinnacle Acting Company at the Midvale Performing Arts Center stays true to its roots as a domestic comedy.But that rings of false modesty for this 1966 American classic.With her line, “We are jungle creatures”, imprisoned Queen Eleanor encapsulates a portrait of King Henry II and their three un-princely sons. In reality, they are a pride of lions snarling for advantage, all the while changing allegiances, while some even look for love under the subterfuge. It’s a high stakes sitcom waged with daggers and sex and lots of funny, memorable lines.

I love the venue. The theatre originated as the City Hall of Midvale, a modest Art Deco gem and among my favorite styles of architecture. The audience will be very comfortable in padded seating with clear views of the elevated stage. The old hall is both homey and spacious at the same time. Continue reading