Reefer Madness: Put Down Your Pipe and Enjoy a Hit!

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By Laurel Sharette
Reefer Madness is a musical comedy which premiered in 1998 based on the 1936 propaganda film of the same name. The 1936 movie is a cautionary tale which tells the story of innocent, wide-eyed, teenagers who are led into a life of debauchery and marijuana addiction by drug dealers who, like most drug dealers, lure their prey with wild parties and Jazz music. The musical was also adapted in the 2005 movie “Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical” starring Kristen Bell, Neve Campbell, and Alan Cumming.

I went to Dark Horse Company Theatre’s production of Reefer Madness at the Egyptian Theatre in Park City on Friday night. The parking was a bit tricky but expected in Park City. The theatre was intimate, well lit, and filled with a light fog, which really contributed to the overall feeling of the show. The play begins with a lecturer at a podium (played by Allen Smith) warning the audience of the dangers of the new drug “reefer” and its threat to the American way of life. Luckily for the audience, there are even explicit warnings about marijuana’s dangers –  “Reefer makes you a pathological liar” and “Reefer annihilates true love” are just two of the many helpful and true statements the author deigns to teach us. Allen Smith brings The Lecturer to life with clear diction, clear objectives and real investment in a character who some may find hard to identify with.

The Lecturer introduces the audience to the young naive couple Mary Lane (played by Natalia Noble) and Jimmy Harper (Justin Banks). Natalia is fantastic as Mary Lane. She brings versatility to the fresh-faced adolescent she plays and sings beautifully. Justin Banks plays the male lead Jimmy. While his singing was great, there were times I felt his approach to Jimmy was a bit forced and he seemed to be trying just a bit too hard ensure the audience believes he is an upright wholesome youth. As soon as he transforms into a marijuana junkie, his acting improves measurably and his character becomes a lot more believable. The reefer den host named Jack is played by Tyson Baker. His old timey drug dealer persona is executed skillfully but his dialect as Jack isn’t consistent. The reefer den hostess, Jack’s girlfriend Mae is played by Eve Speer whose portrayal of a ruined woman addicted to reefer and abused by her pusher boyfriend is masterful. Eve is an amazing singer. I particularly enjoyed her sexy rendering of the song “The Stuff” in which Mae bemoans her wasted life and highlights the intricacies of reefer addiction. My favorite part of the play is when Mae sings “The fun sometimes escapes me when Jack gets stoned and rapes me. Nothing numbs me better than the stuff.”

Two of the denizens of the reefer den are Ralph, a college boy led astray by reefer, and Sally, who sells her baby for reefer – like you do. Ralph is played by Marc Nielson. His strung out portrayal of Ralph is a little on the extreme side and his acting isn’t top notch, but he has an amazing voice and once he starts singing it’s easy to forget his performance’s shortcomings. Marissa Poole’s portrayal of Sally is sexy, clever, and fun. The supporting cast is made up of Stephanie Pike Thomas – an amazing dancer, Aaron Cole, Adan Jorq, Ana Lemke, and Mindy Anderson. This ensemble is spunky, energetic, and a joy to watch. The show is expertly directed by William Richardson and accompanied by a live band – and a very skilled one at that.

Reefer Madness is so much fun and I highly recommend it. Ticket prices are reasonable, the cast is spectacular, the music is beautiful, and the show is hilarious – even to those who are not reefer aficionados. Put away your paraphernalia and head down to the Egyptian Theatre for Reefer Madness – you only have till Sunday to enjoy this spectacular production.

 

Dark Horse Company Theatre presents Reefer Madness by Kevin Murphy and Dan Studney.

The Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main Street, Park City, Utah, 84060.

Remaining shows: April 27th at 8 PM and April 28th at 6 PM.

Tickets: Reserved Seats $25 Advance/$30 Door
Front-of-House $29 Advance/$34 Door; Cabaret Seats $39 Advance/ $44 Door

Call: 435-649-9371

http://www.darkhorsecompanytheatre.com/#!reefer-madness/c1szo

 

Salty Dinner Theater’s Sherlock Holmes is Fun for Mystery Lovers

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By Kendra Hill

I have now been to a couple of Salty Dinner Theater’s shows and have really enjoyed those I attended. It is a unique experience to have the actors on the same level as you and interacting with you during the show (at the beginning of this show I was actually pegged as Sherlock Holmes first murder suspect, yikes! Thankfully he proved me innocent.)

                This weekend I had the pleasure of seeing Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Violinist’s Beau at the Spaghetti Factory in Orem. It was written and directed by Beth Bruner and was Salty Dinner Theater’s first mystery. With a show that performs in many different restaurant venues, I think it would be hard to direct. Beth did a good job spreading characters through different parts of the restaurant, but it’s tricky to see everything at once, as the actors are all over the place. There was a good sound system and we could always hear the actors. There was one small glitch when one of the mics was left on, but the actors were very quiet off stage (which is tough – I’m an actor, we love to talk!) and was quickly fixed.

                When we (Jennifer Mustoe and I) arrived at the restaurant, we were greeted by Sherlock and Watson. They chatted with us as we waited to be shown to our seats and really helped set the mood for the show. The other actors were inside and wandered from table to table and talk to the audience giving background information and (in a sense) setting the stage for the show.

                I was impressed with the acting choices the actors made. They were all very bold and it made it easier to distinguish between the characters to solve the mystery. While many of the characters were silly in nature, the majority of the dialogue and jokes in the show seemed to be aimed toward an older audience and may become boring for younger children, unusual for most SDT shows. There are some things that kids will enjoy including one of the characters often being treated like a dog (sort of like Scooby Doo and his Scooby snacks), and the magician does a couple of magic tricks, but I don’t know if that is enough to keep their attention the whole time. There also seemed to be times where there was a lot of dialogue and the story started to drag. Though, when that happened, there was always a yummy dinner to keep you occupied until the show picked up again.

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Sherlock Holmes (Mike Brown) put a very entertaining and fun spin on the character and was very good at silly improv lines when audience members said unexpected things. Watson (Ryon Sharette) was a very good balance to Sherlock’s silliness and they were a very good team. Sometimes it is hard for actors to have such a good chemistry, especially when they were often separated by tables of patrons, but Mike and Ryon really did a great job at playing off of one another. Jane – the romantic heroine – (Sheri Gillies) was very cute and fun to watch. She would change her emotions quickly, from crying to sedate explanations, which was rather silly, though it didn’t get many laughs. I blame it on the rather low energy audience of the evening because I really enjoyed her performance and was surprised it didn’t get more positive audience response. Sasha (Tanner Haderlie) was very entertaining to watch and really projected his performance through the room. He had a very thick Russian accent, but still was easy to understand. Inspector Marsan (Megan Tholen) had a very strong presence on stage, which was especially good when she had her stand-offs with the chauvinistic Hagman, the magician. However, with all of the eccentric characters in the show, she sometimes was a little drowned out. Hagman (Christopher Kucera) did very well at being an outrageous magic Texan (never thought that would all be together in one sentence). He was very big and over the top, which really worked with this cast and the strong character choices that were made. Irene Hall (Jamie Haderlie) had a great singing voice. During the breaks of the show, she entertained the audience with a large range of songs including Broadway tunes, mainstream songs, as well as some the audience could join in. She really did a good job at keeping the show lively and upbeat after some of the longer dialogue areas.

As every actor knows, each audience is different. Some nights you get loud laughter and applause almost constantly, while other nights the audience seems not to understand what is going on and is quiet. Sadly, the night I went to review, the crowd seemed to lack enthusiasm and it brought the energy of the show down a little bit. The majority of the jokes, though many were funny, seemed only to get small chuckles. The actors, even with a lack-luster audience, kept their energy thriving and still were able to entertain those of us who were enjoying the show.

                The best part of the evening was the ending. Not because the show ended, but because the audience was able to participate in the punishment of the culprit. During the show, each audience member has a booklet with information on the characters where they can take notes as they try to discover who the killer is. When the dessert course is brought around, everyone is invited to write their guess of who was the murderer on a piece of paper as well as how to punish said culprit. If more than half of the audience is correct, then the actor or actress must act out the punishment. Luckily for us, the majority of our audience correctly guessed the killer (who shall remain nameless.) While we had an audience lacking in energy during the show, they were sure creative with their punishments. The poor culprit had to do many things including dancing the Harlem Shake/Gangham Style while announcing that Sherlock Holmes was fantastic, all the while being pelted by spaghetti noodles, and to top it all off, had ice cream smeared in their face. What a good sport they were, and it had the audience roaring with more laughter than was heard the rest of the show.

                This show was funny and entertaining, and a good way to spend the evening. At times it did drag, but it was made up by the fun characters and the performances by Jamie Haderlie. You may not want to take younger children as they might get bored by the long areas of dialogue and the more mature jokes, but if you do there are still a few silly things that they will enjoy.

                The Salty Dinner Theater performs almost every night, but in varying locations throughout Utah and Salt Lake Counties. To find the best location for you, it would be best if you go to their website and pick where and when you would like to go.

                The price of admission is $15 for adults and $8 for children, not including the price of dinner.

 Salty Dinner Theater presents Sherlock Holmes: Case of the Violinist’s Beau

Arrive by 7:15, check website for dates

TICKET PRICE: $15 adults $8 children (dinner not included)

CONTACT INFO: (801) 262-5083 info@saltydinnertheater.com

WEBSITE: http://www.saltydinnertheater.com/

SLAC’S The EXIT INTERVIEW–Enter Here!

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by Joel Applegate

Playwright William Missouri Downs has managed a paradoxical slight of hand in The Exit Interview.

Cloaked though they are in dark, delicious comedy, the subjects of this play are all deadly serious. Media and culture are examined and criticized generally – and by this playwright – for packaging human events into digestible data. Yet Downs himself packs the serious into a round-about of comic jolts we recognize as being us collectively, and maybe us personally.

This play is for the mature teen or adult (not mutually exclusive). Cheerleaders gird us for what’s to come with an “Offensive Cheer”. It’s a prelude and a warning – like your car telling you to fasten your seat belt when your bum triggers the sensor. Their first cheer wraps up with “Screw realism!” OK. I think I’m up for this…

Small Talk vs Big Problems – is this what the play is about? I think so. And it’s all hung around a funny and maddening exit interview. Dick – an agnostic if you need a label – is a college professor who’s been sacked. His interview is conducted by Eunice, a religious brass tack, who is yet a sardonic woman. During all this time a lone shooter is closing in toward them, making his way from the Ronald Reagan Cafeteria, forcing the campus into lock-down. That’s the catalyst. The two protagonists will come to react according to their own lights.

Lest that sounds too grim for a truly fun night of theater, don’t believe it! Playwright Downs paints in many colors and openly uses Brechtian devices to change direction and tone. In the 1920’s,German playwright Bertolt Brecht pioneered the idea that the audience invest in what they were watching. Director John Caywood just as ably holds up the proverbial mirror to Utah audiences. It’s not just fictional characters exploring the “big questions”. The audience is invited – maybe even forced – to recognize that there’s no separation between them and us.

Marin Kohler, Cassandra Stokes-Wylie

Brecht’s theater sought to represent life as it is – interrupting, absurd, unknowable – not merely, or just, escapism. Break into song, change the script, remind the audience that “we know you’re out there.” The play is interrupted in both acts for “rewrites”; the stage manager comes on with new pages; the actors adopt German accents. In a further nod to Brecht, Downs supplies hilarious, pertinent lyrics regarding prayer to Kurt Weil’s “Mack the Knife.”

So what are the big questions raised in the interview? The professor has questions about life’s purpose that Eunice summarily dismisses as having a bad sense of humor. Instead of serious topics, Eunice asks whether the now unemployed professor, Dick (“please, it’s Richard”) has any parking tickets or overdue library books. The trivial becomes the important, because serious subjects – sex, religion, politics – are “conversation stoppers”. What’s actually important in our real lives has become really too dangerous to discuss in public. The point is this: we should be discussing them. It’s all existential angst. “You’re not allowed to ask questions until page six”.

For The Exit Interview”, SLAC is one of the participating theaters in a “Rolling World Premiere.” As part of a relatively new way of promoting new work, the National New Play Network each season organizes separately timed runs rotating through several theaters. William Missouri Downs attended the performance at SLAC Friday, April 12th, and has seen other productions as they are mounted during the year.

Darrin Doman and Nel Gwynn

As for SLAC’s mounting, Kevin Myhre’s trademark sets are usually minimalist, but ergo-metrically designed. This one is defined by pleasingly reddish color-blocks amid a door and a platform. Literal signs of the times are posted such as “Research vs. Revelation” and “I Did It vs. The Devil Made me Do It” which render the atmosphere anything but subtle.

The lighting is always great, particularly here with James M. Craig’s strategic use of projections. The acting spaces are variously lit, taking us to different times and places.

Dick, the intellectual professor is played by Darrin Doman. He’s wry, sincere and has a nice singing voice, too. We commiserate with poor Dick’s sense of defeat that comes from fighting the institutionally irrational. He yearns to discover his own purpose, not a “second hand purpose inherited from our parents in the form of religion.” He asks all the significant questions, while the interviewer answers with bromides of divine will. “How do you know you’re correctly reading the mind of God?” he asks. “Do you realize how narcissistic that is?”

As Eunice, Nell Gwynn just wants to get the job done. She gives a good, stout performance, helping us understand that faith is an important part of who she is. Gwynn manages to make her pride in her “survivor collage” both naïve and poignant. But in dodging Dick’s searching questions, she’s forced into a kind of secular epiphany. Though devout, a frustrated Eunice grouses, “We would rather guess than learn…”

The four other actors in the piece play many multiple roles, each with a primary character most of their stage time. As the ultimate smarmy reporter, Terence Goodman is excellent. Excellent enough to trigger disgust. People’s stories get filtered through his TV camera and come out unidentifiable. If he can’t get an exclusive to the actual event, the real story is sacrificed to triviality and hype.

Marin Kohler and Cassandra Stokes-Wylie wowed and charmed us as energetic cheerleaders, their hilarious routines book-ending the acts. Their commitment to “school spirit” is TOTAL. Their cheerfulness is exhausting. Kohler is great as the professor’s girlfriend, pacing her lines well, and varying her delivery appropriate to the particular character she played. As Kohler’s conservative “Mom”, Stokes-Wylie’s frustration felt like revenge: “To be able to speak and not say anything is an art.”

Bijan Hosseini in multiple roles was a riot, nailing each one. He worked hard, had fun, and impressed us with his ability to disappear into each character. He did it so thoroughly that I had to connect the dots to differentiate one of his characters from another. My favorite line he uttered: “Update your FB page before you start shooting.”

I’m always grateful for daring theater in Utah. I have been a subscriber to SLAC in the past and the great thing about going to a performance there is the consistent quality, fresh new works and, as always, the opportunity to think. The Exit Interview makes thinking fun. I urge you to go get your fair share of some invigoratingly honest laughs.

The venue is a converted LDS chapel from the turn of the 19th Century, and is nice and clean with sparkling restrooms. However, it not equipped for wheelchairs, although a stair lift has been installed. Assistance will be provided if you call ahead. There’s a great greenroom for early patrons, with an art show usually displayed on the lower level below the main stage. There’s plenty of ample parking at Washington Elementary School directly across from the theater on 200 West and 500 North.

Performances are through April 10 – May 5, 2013 with curtain at 7:30 pm, Wednesday through Saturday, and Sunday at 1:00 pm and 6:00 pm. Two acts, one intermission.

Tickets: Call for prices. They range from low $20s to $40s, depending on week night or weekend.

Show is selling well, so get your tickets early.

Box Office 801.363.7522

Salt Lake Acting Company

168 West 500 North

Salt Lake City, Utah 84103

www.saltlakeactingcompany.org

Spring Awakening is Fresh, Lively, and Eye-Opening

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By Serena Benish

More than a double entendre of the title and subject matter, and even with the month of production, Spring Awakening, the University of Utah’s Department of Theatre production at the Babcock was at once gripping, spectacularly well-acted and directed, and a little bit ahem, startling, especially for the viewers from the hinterlands of Utah County.  It was, however, the very open portrayal of impending sexual awareness in teens that made the play so incredible to experience and gave reason to ponder more in wonder at the artistry of the director, Denny Berry, and of the stellar cast.

As a parental tool, the play is invaluable.  I sat with my savvy nearly 16-year old, who did not squirm in embarrassment at the more open but very tastefully staged depictions of sex, and it afforded me all sorts of paths for later dialogue about sexual awareness and teens.  In fact, every high school and college Human Sexuality class should be required to see the play.  It can open doors to wonderful discussions, throw out myths, and illuminate the dark and evil, sometimes unmentioned sides of sexual abuse as well as help define sexual questions — all within in the context of great theatre.

Because truly it is great theatre.  The actors were mainly students in the University of Utah’s Muscial Theatre Program (MTP) with two wonderful and versatile “adult” actors, both faculty members in the U’s Theatre Department, who played various characters with such diversity, it was a marvel to discern how many different personalities they could embrace.  Spring Awakening must otherwise be a youthful cast, and these student actors were magnificent.  They captured the essence of naïveté of young teens in the throes of hormonal upheaval perfectly, but then one would become aware of the true mastery of acting that was presented.  So many promising careers were evident on that stage — no missed beats, no momentary weakness in character or intent, no lack of skill in both singing and acting, because, oh yes, Spring Awakening is a musical, with thought-provoking lyrics and haunting melody and dramatic statements (titles not printable in Utah County, but which are very funny and quite applicable!)

The brilliance of the seamless passing back and forth from 1891 Germany to modern day music was one of the superb characteristics of this production.  No doubt the  conception of Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik, who used as a base for the musical the play of Frank Wedekind, this altered time frame never seemed unnatural, but rather a perfect blending into one of the two worlds, and it was captured remarkably by the direction of the venerable Denny Berry, a director/choreographer who is a veteran of really good theatre — the kind of theatre that IS Broadway and such large successes as 12 worldwide productions of The Phantom of the Opera, for which she did the casting, coaching and setting.(What luck has landed Ms. Berry here in Utah to head the U’s Musical Theatre Program can only be imagined, but were I a musical theatre student, I would try earnestly to be in her realm and shadow in every way I could.) The choreography was excellent, never detracting the singing as many modern non-singer choreographers do with their demands of gyrations that preclude vocal production.  Instead, the singing was wonderful to this classical ear, completely void of shouting in that ill-conceived notion of singing, which too many amateurs pass off as vocalizing.  Again, marvelously tasteful and completely artistic in every way — dancing, singing, and acting.

One of my colleagues who is a fine musical theatre director himself said, “It is a great reminder how we’ve come very far and yet some things haven’t really changed much.”  That concept, the excellence of this production of Spring Awakening, both in direction and acting, and the notes of the director Denny Berry in the front of the program are what have given me a lot to think about — as a parent, a member of society, a teacher, and as another human being.

“It is exactly because every generation recalls this momentous journey [of the ‘coming of age’] that they seek to prevent what they already know are possible dangers and deviations inherent in the journey.  However, by acknowledging the dangers and possible deviations, and being ready with answers or at least discussion instead of hard and fast rules and unyielding mandates from the past, an enlightened culture can help make this transition from girl to woman or boy to man less traumatic, more compassionate, and understanding.” — Denny Berry

Get thee to the U!  Babcock Theatre, part of the Pioneer Theatre on the University of Utah campus!

Remaining Dates: Thursday, April 18, April 19 7:30 PM,Saturday, April 20 and Sunday, April 21, 2013 2:00 PM, 7:30 PM, Thursday, April 25 and Friday April 26 7:30 PM, Saturday, April 27 and Sunday, April 28 2:00 PM, 7:30 PM

Ticket Information:

General Admission $15
University of Utah Faculty and Staff $12
University of Utah Students Free with Ucard
All other students with valid student ID $8

“Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.” Desiderata (Latin: things to be desired)  Max Ehrmann, ca. 1920’s

“It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.” –Oscar Wilde

http://kingsburyhall.utah.edu/performances/spring-awakening

Musing: A Tale of Two Pirates

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By Shannon Eden

Within the last few weeks, I was able to attend two productions of Pirates of Penzance by Gilbert and Sullivan – one at the SCERA (http://bit.ly/11EGcBJ), put on by their youth company Acting Up!, and the other at the Valley Center Playhouse in Lindon (http://bit.ly/10dFvn4). When comparing the two, it is really like trying to compare apples to oranges. Both had the same script, the same plot, the same characters, and yet truly couldn’t have been more different from one another.

 The SCERA Theater has a large stage with stadium seating. The Valley Center Playhouse is very intimate and provides the audience with an up-close theater in the round point of view. The venues themselves differed so much that pretty much every directorial decision had to be different for each production. The set at the SCERA consisted of a large framework of detail. They had room to build a ship, to have scalable rocks, and a cemetery full of honorable escutcheons. Whereas the Valley Center Playhouse made do with a small area devoted to props and set pieces that could convey the setting without crowding the already small area that the cast had to work with. The SCERA’s cast was relatively large with dozens of pirates and policemen and enough daughters to be married off to them all! The Valley Center Playhouse double cast the pirates as policemen as well, and had a modest number of frolicking maidens so as not to scale the rough and rugged passes right over the toes of their audience.

 The fantastic thing about both shows was the simple fact that they both worked. And more than that, they worked well. Pirates of Penzance is a classic for a reason. It is adaptable in so many ways and can be brilliant when done large and loud as well as small and intimate. It doesn’t lose its comedy or musical prowess as long as it is done with heart and talent – two things that we are greatly blessed with in Utah County.

 There will always be directorial aspects, costume choices, and vocal performances that may sway me one direction or another when it comes to choosing a favorite production, but in the end, I left both having enjoyed the show simply because it is almost impossible to not.

 I brought my six-year-old to the SCERA’s production and included the rest of the family for the Valley Center Playhouse’s production (that’s a six-, four-, and two-year-old, plus a husband that sometimes requires a bit of an arm twist to attend theatrical performances), and both shows entertained and delighted them. If you want to know if a production is successfully entertaining, just ask a child – their reactions are always the most brutally honest! But none of them fell asleep, despite the fact that the shows ran almost two hours past their bedtime. They wanted to meet the characters and sang the songs as we left.

 So, what did I take away from the two productions of Pirates of Penzance that I saw? Not that I preferred one over the other. Not even that I liked one theater over the other. Simply this – I love when people put great effort into putting on a great show. That they are willing to tackle a challenge, whether it be filling a large stage or fitting everything onto a small one. It doesn’t matter the size or simplicity, but whether or not people leave with a smile on their face. So far, Pirates of Penzance has yet to disappoint, and I look forward to seeing it again soon.

Valley Center Playhouse’s Pirates of Penzance has Big Laughs in a Small Space

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By Shannon Eden

Welcome to the Valley Center Playhouse in Lindon – it’s been around for 40 years and yet I’ve never heard of it! It is a little tucked away – I was afraid Map-quest had led me totally astray when we started into a distinctly residential neighborhood, but lo and behold – there amid the homes was a hidden theater. The Valley Center Playhouse is a smaller venue, with ancient seats that scream, “You don’t want to sit in me for three hours!” but are actually pretty comfortable. (This coming from a seven months pregnant person who can’t sit anywhere for three hours.) They add to the very nostalgic feel of the theater itself. I brought my family with me to see the show and found out that they usually don’t allow children under four; however, they were kind enough to let my two-year-old stay so long as she behaved herself, which, as a great compliment to the cast, she did. This is a show geared for families with lots of fun swashbuckling and silliness, so bring your kids – the loudest laughs of the night came from the children in the audience.

Pirates of Penzance, a classic operetta by Gilbert and Sullivan, follows the tale of Frederick – a lad of twenty-one who is, in fact, only five. He’s a pirate, but doesn’t want to be, and loves Mabel, but is going to have to kill her father. Confused? So is he. Ever the slave of duty, poor Frederick is pulled from one world to another, then back again, and finds himself interacting with some very colorful characters along the way.

Directed by Patrick Brannelly, with the assistance of musical director Brooklyn Poulter, the Valley Center Playhouse has put together a fun production that brings the audience a little closer to the show than usual. Pirate has the capability of having a rather large cast, but the theater here was simply too small to accommodate, it is a theater in the round – the stage being the center floor with seats surrounding. There were a few times that the actors became a little too aware of the audience while trying to not block anyone’s view, but for the most part, the blocking rotated often enough that the characters were able to be seen by all sides. One difficulty I found with the theater set up and blocking was that the corners seemed to be utilized quite frequently as an ‘escape’ for the actors. If they weren’t a key part in the scene, they stood in a designated corner until it was time to return to the stage. Understanding that, with a limited space people need to be moved in order for the focus to be on the right characters, I wished that those ‘escaping’ to the corners had seemed like they had a reason to go as opposed to just following their blocking. Or a few times, the aisles and audience seats were used to great success – the police hiding from the pirates amongst theater patrons was really a fun interaction, and it would have been nice to see some more blocking choices like that.

The costumes were creative, done by M’liss Tolman. My favorites being that of the Pirate King and Ruth as a pirate. Tolman also managed the set and props, keeping them very minimal in order to leave ample space for the actors to maneuver. She made yet another appearance as the homely Ruth, Frederick’s devoted yet elderly nursemaid. Her portrayal was a little more subdued than some of the other characters. So although she did a good job with the character, she got a little lost amid the others – especially vocally. In a theater small enough to not require microphones, I wished she had had one. She was also…dare I say? Too pretty! I loved her transition to sultry pirate sidekick after being discarded by Frederick, but I felt like she needed a little more help being homely in the beginning. I hope I look so good at forty-seven!

The Pirate King, played charismatically by David Henry, had very ample projection and stage presence. His pitch faltered every so often during the musical numbers, but he had a strong performance overall. Cameron Fullmer as Frederick brought a silliness to the character that went a little too far sometimes for me, but gave a likeableness as well. It may not be fair for me to review this show since I’ve been in it twice and grew up on the music – I know it too well! Fullmer did miss a lot of his lines though he filled them in enough to keep things going. My husband never noticed, and most in the audience probably were of the same mind. Mabel, played by Amber Lee Roberts had an exceptional singing voice. She, as well as most of the actors, seemed to struggle with the music tracks however. I’m not sure if they had difficulty hearing the music, but the timing seemed off for everyone all evening. The music, to me, seemed very fast and offered little flexibility for the cast to emphasize the humor of the show. They barely had time to take a breath between lines, let alone allow for comedic timing. As a result, we lost much of the fun of the show.

The Major General, played by Andrew Whittaker, and Sergeant of Police, Gary Taylor, had the strongest entrances of the night. From their first introduction, both established their characters and maintained good connections with the audience throughout the show. The Sergeant was able to manipulate the music well on the parts that were too low for him and made the awkward, silly actions of the Sergeant seem natural to his character. Whittaker had a unique voice that fit well with the Major General and, though he struggled a bit with “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General,” (let’s be honest, who wouldn’t with lyrics like that!), he pushed through without breaking character.

The rest of the ensemble could have been stronger musically – the group numbers seemed to fall apart a bit, again mostly due to inability to stay with the tracks. They also seemed to be waiting for cues and choreography, concentrating on the steps instead of following naturally. Bethany Taylor’s choreography had much potential and had many elements that were very enjoyable – at one point the circling pirates have the tables turned on them and find themselves being instead surrounded by the daughters, which was a great tactic and used the space and music well. The Pirate ensemble shone even more when they transferred to the roles of Policemen, and the choreography for them was some of the best of the night.

The lighting and sound for the show, done by Adam Cannon, seemed to run smoothly. The only piece of the technical aspects of the show that I didn’t like was the final fight scene’s use of a noise track. Having not had any additional ‘din’ added to the rest of the show, it seemed out of place and sounded far from natural. I would have much rather heard more from the actors and avoided the track.

All in all, the show was good, but with performances running through May, I’m sure the cast will continue to improve with each night and that further experience with the show will iron out the insecurities and hiccups of opening weekend.

Valley Center Playhouse presents Pirates of Penzance

780 N 200 E, Lindon, UT

April 12th through May 20th Mon/Fri/Sat at 7:30

Tickets $7, $5, $25 for a family pass

Call 801-785-1186 for reservations

Tickets available at the door

Check their Facebook page for promotions: https://www.facebook.com/valleycenterplayhouse

A Farewell to Eden is Gloriously Entertaining

Farewell To Eden Poster Online

By Kara Henry

What does it mean to grow? What does it mean to leave the comforts of our current view of the world and our personal Edens, to go out from innocence and perhaps ignorance into a better knowledge of ourselves and others? The Echo Theatre in Provo is home to the Zion’s Theater Company‘s tenth anniversary production of Farewell to Eden, by playwright Mahonri Stewart, a production that explores some of these themes.

Farewell to Eden is a period piece that tells the story of an upper-class English family whose father has just passed away. At the center of the family is Georgiana, the strong-willed, stubborn sister who is “her father’s daughter.” In perpetual rivalry with her pretty belle of a sister, she struggles with finding her true identity and discovering what romantic love might look like. Coming into the picture are her foppish brother who runs the family businesses, which their father only dabbled in as a hobby of course (no one who is truly upper-class would need to work), a devious and charming publisher, a childhood friend who has now become a family friend and several other characters.

First off, the script is one that makes me, a former English major, wish I was back in school so I could trot off to write a paper about its symbolism or perhaps deconstruct it from a feminist point of view. Yet, this depth doesn’t keep it from being accessible. Witty banter, symbolism, broad range of characters, historical figures popping in and out, romantic stories that avoid cliques, and did I mention witty banter and fully fleshed out characters? Please sign me up. I’d like to see it again to make sure I caught all the witty banter. It also has religious themes without being preachy, leaving the viewer to come to his or her own conclusions. I brought my friend along who is not Mormon, and while there are conversion stories in the show, she never felt like that was the point or that she was being preached at.

Then we come to the technical side of things. It was pretty bare bones. The set, designed by Ronn Anderson, was sparse, the lighting even sparser, and there were very few sound cues. This required the story and the acting to stand on its own. I only wish the audience hadn’t been so lit up. As a theater patron, I’m not accustomed to sitting in such bright light, and it had the effect of bringing me out of the story at times. However, the costuming, done by Brooke Wilkins, was lush, and against a relatively bare stage, they popped right into the audience. I did have a bit of an issue with some doll props. I’m not sure if it was a mix up and the actors picked up the wrong dolls in one of those jittery moments that happen to all of us, but their verbal descriptions sometimes did not match the dolls they were holding. For example, one actor refers to a doll wearing a dress with lace when the doll’s dress clearly did not have a stitch of lace on it and the doll’s next to it was full of lace. Minor issue that I’m sure will be easily fixed in subsequent shows.

FTE 3

And now, we come to the actors. Let’s start with the sibling set which the plot revolves around, Georgiana, Catherine and Thomas Highett. Georgiana (Sarah Stewart) is a strong-willed, intelligent woman who hides her feelings behind her sharp wit. Stewart’s physicality and presence command the stage, but I sometimes felt she didn’t let us see her vulnerable side. I wanted to see her walls come down a little bit more—perhaps this is simply my perception. She came across a little one note to me at times. However, Stewart excelled at clearly portraying the nature of her relationships with others. This cast had chemistry, and their bonds where palpable. Part of what I enjoyed most about the show was her relationships with her siblings, particularly her rivalry with Catherine (Cabrielle Andersen).

Speaking of Catherine, she has been underappreciated by her family and told she is subpar her whole life, and she believes it. She has been told she is only valuable for her outward appearance. Tension is created by one girl believing she is not “the smart one” and the other believing she is “not the pretty one,” their insecurity driving the conflict. That could have been difficult to communicate—the competition with underlying love—and these two actress did it extremely well. Andersen was a delight to watch. At one point I wrote in my notes that I was having a hard time picturing her as a person in the modern world. I mean, clearly she was a person alive now as she was right in front of me, but I just couldn’t picture it. Catherine’s character could have come off as merely frivolous and vapid throughout, but Andersen went much deeper with her portrayal.

FTE 4

Likewise, Kevin O’Keefe, in the part of their brother, made his seemingly foppish character come to life with humor and intelligence, with an obvious affection for his sisters. Without giving much else away, I was impressed by the development and depth O’Keefe brought to his character.

Wes Tolman plays the rake of a publisher, Derrel Fredericks, with a charisma that made him at once likable and detestable. This character could have been flat and one-dimensional, but Tolman manages to give him a little bit more humanity. The other suitor, Stephen Lockhart (Joseph Reidhead), gave a nuanced performance, although I would have liked a little bit more chemistry between him and Georgiana.

Another bright spot was Debra Woods as Mary, the family’s housekeeper/maid. She has great comic timing, and does an impeccable Cockney accent, and she brings a motherly presence to the stage.

FTE 2

McKenzie Steele Foster and Heather McGregor play the sisters Hannah and Esther Whitefield. As lower-class girls, they challenge the assumptions of the upper-class in their interactions. McGregor plays Esther as quiet and deferring, but intense and strong when challenged. Foster gives Hannah compassion and understanding, yet a slightly wiser air than Esther.

I thought that Matthew Davis looked the part of Brigham, and did a good job of bringing him to life—however, I often it hard to understand him when he spoke, especially when playing his other character, Harold Lowe. John (Patrick Newman) brightened the stage with his religious conviction and genuine caring for the characters he interacted with. This was a nice counter-balance to the zeal of Brigham.

Ronnie Stringfellow has done an excellent job with direction. I felt the scenes were well-balanced visually, especially when the entire cast was on stage. There are some tricky physical movements which were handled well and looked realistic, even with the audience being very close to the actors. I stayed for the question and answer session after the show, and it was clear to me that a lot of thought had gone into the character development, and it showed abundantly in the actors’ performances.

FTE 1

For me, the true test of theater, no matter the technical aspects and the other conventions, is 1. Did I enjoy it? 2. Did it make me think or touch me in a personal way? 3. Did it stay with me? It’s rare for me to see a show that doesn’t pass number one, but it’s not that common for a show to pass two and three. This show passes all three easily. (If I’m confessing things as a theater goer, I even had a dream about the show last night.)

I know as a theater patron, there are so many shows competing for your attention, but I don’t think you’ll regret taking the time to see this one.

Zion Theater Company presents

Farewell to Eden

Written by Mahonri Stewart

The Echo Theatre, 145 N University Ave, Provo, UT 84601

April 15-27, MON-SAT

7:30 PM

$12.00/$9.00 (student/senior)  

http://www.theechotheatre.com/

The Echo’s Cinematics is Lights! Camera! Action-a-licious!

cinematics

By Daniel Brassard

            This troupe of Improv actors go by the name of The Cinematics, with the hook that the audience will get the excitement of Improv with the magic of Hollywood. I went to their Saturday April 13th 8 PM show at The Echo Theatre in Provo Utah, located at 145 University Ave, Provo Utah. To get a feel for what mindset I was and am in, I’d like to tell you a small amount of my method of reviewing entertainment. I like to go to all my movies and shows cold, without any prior research and with as little info as possible. I also try not to be a critic, mainly because I’m not sure it’s very helpful to the reader who is wondering what to expect if they venture out to be entertained in Utah. So, my goal in a review is to give an honest review of what I saw and if I think the average person should go and see the production or project.

             In my estimation, the room held the capacity for 50ish audience members. After I settled up at the ticket counter, I entered a simple room with the seats filled in a first come first serve manner. The good news was that every seat seemed like a front row seat in matters of visibility. The better news is that it was a packed house, excellent work to whoever made that happen. Tickets were $8 for general admission, $6 for students with ID and a $1 discount for a verbal statement that the person had “liked” them on Facebook. The stage had a stool center stage and a projector screen against the back wall. I was pretty excited when I saw this. I love the idea of technology and theater getting together. After the tech team got everything set up for the show, I waited for their first sound or lighting error. It seems like something always happens in live theater that reminds me of Murphy’s Law. I am proud to report that technical errors never came, ord if they did occur I didn’t notice!

             The format for the evening was very inventive and well-conceived. We were provided Movie Theme piano music from a gentlemen wearing a member’s only jacket and sunglasses in a dimly lit room. I could only assume that his future was so bright that he “had to wear shades”, or maybe that he had just come back from a pupil dilation. As a host in a white jacket tuxedo came out, he informed us that we were here for a double feature movie premier and that the vampire like gentlemen behind the piano was a famous movie composer. Now his eccentric attire made sense, the wealthy routinely dress like hipsters from the 80’s. The host introduced us to movie stars as they came in, this line of Hollywood royalty was none other than the troupe called The Cinematics. With the guidance of the Host and the composer, we were encouraged to create a musical fanfare for the night. I’m not a big fan of singing in public. I prefer the shower where the acoustics trick me into thinking I’m in the wrong profession. It wasn’t my favorite part, but it was successfully orcestrated so that the audience seemed to love the opportunity for involvement. There was also a narrated news reel that was short and sweet, and an impromptu song from three casts members with the subject matter chosen by the audience. But the meat of the performance was the double feature. With the genere chosen by an audience member spinning the “Genre Wheel by Fink”, and the title of each film created by audience suggestion, the setup was complete.

             The projector came on and showed us the title screen with the movie we had just created. Then the actors immediately hit the stage and created a show right in front of our eyes and off the tops of their heads. The first film was hilarious from start to finish. The second film was a little hit and miss, but the talent of each actor was unmistakably high. The content of these films is unimportant in that audiences will see a new film every performance. But I will say this, it was family friendly, tasteful and very funny.

            Reasons to go see the show based on the individual actor’s contributions: Jared Leo Lynton can play a desperate brother or confused lover with a talent as big and luxurious as his hair. Aubrey Reynolds, introduced as “smoldering”, killed in a desperate search for her brother and resurrected as Sarah Palin. Hailey Nebeker, thank you for your epic save of the first film by making that janitor truly understand the meaning of love. If it wasn’t for your very powerful invisible baby 30-second performance, he would have left the hospital. Patrick Newman took a literal slap to the face like a champ, and delivered a figurative slap to the face by phone. Riley Workman’s dynamic roles taught the ethic of keeping your nose to the ground to avoid heartbreak and how to go on the most delightful killing spree. Melanie Stone Thomason defied the odds of a terminal illness, found love at the hands of a janitor and a surprising death in the hands of a secret agent. Julianna Boulter Blake was both the perfect spy and the worst receptionist to tell a secret to and pulled off the lady’s leather trench coat way better than John Jackson.

             I would strongly advise that if you are looking to have a good time, filled with laughs and quotable lines, please go see The Cinematics at The Echo Theatre in Provo. If you are on a first date, looking for a date night, a casual to regular theater-goer or usually a hermit and looking to get back into society, this is for you. They are doing something really clever and entertaining, and I don’t think the same experience can be had elsewhere.

 The Cinematics Cast:

Riley Workman
Patrick Newmen
Aubry Reynolds
Melanie Thomason
Julianna Blake
Jeffery Blake
Kris Paries
John Jackson
Jared Lynton
Hailey Nebeker

 The Echo plans of producing Cinematics Improv nights once a month, so please check back at their website:http://www.theechotheatre.com/

And their Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/TheEchoTheatre

To see when they perform again soon.

 

UVU’s “The Mikado” is a High Wire Act that is Farcically Amazing

mikado

By Joel Applegate

     Opening night disaster! The whole cast is stuck on a broken-down bus in Pocatello. Yeah, that’s in Idaho. The director of Gilbert and Sullivan’s musical, The Mikado, James Arrington, had to stand up in front of a full house on Opening Night and make the dread announcement. A cell phone rings. After he’d already cautioned us to turn off our phones, an audience member had to break the news that the offending device was his own. What gall! Arrington took the call – with us in the room. The announcement? What every audience hates: the show can’t be saved. The bus is busted. But the performance will go on anyway with the Understudies in every role.

     I was so disappointed I considered leaving. I’d come back the next night. After all, a reviewer wants to do the fair thing and give the cast and crew their optimum chance to shine.

     What followed was a high-wire act that in averting disaster, shattered the “fourth wall” and in fact masterfully turned The Mikado into an enchanted, hilarious high farce. Let us remember, this classic, which premiered in1885, is after all, considered Gilbert and Sullivan’s best achievement in satire.

     The conceit of this production is so cleverly realized that to give away too much would be to rob you of some great surprises. As the show progresses in spectacular costumes by Allen Stout and equally over-the-top bad wigs, I slowly began to get the sense (I’m a bit slow in the up-take sometimes) that the whole cast was completely in on a joke. Self-aware as understudies, they knew they were winging it. Even as the set and the sound conspired to sabotage their efforts, the cast trooped on determined to finish this thing – or have it finish them.

     Chase Grant as the Shogun showed himself game to sacrifice himself to the cause. He soldiered on with a subtly hilarious mix of befuddlement and smirk while other actors fed him his lines from behind their fans.

     The presentational technique of old style theatrics is lampooned throughout, especially in the person of Nanki-Poo, played by James Bounous in the male lead. Polished in his melodramatic, exaggerated self-parody, he gave us a lesson in camp performance art that was a running riot. Although he sometimes sounded a little thin at the top, Bounous possesses a beautiful tenor voice that is always a pleasure to hear.

     The object of Nanki-Poo’s ardor, our sweet Yum-Yum, finds herself, in a crucial moment, covering a wardrobe malfunction with her ample fan. Played by Amanda Maxwell, this is an “understudy” both shy and sly, with an effortless soprano that is clear and pure. Messrs G & S may well have cast her in the original role.

     Regan Whimpey as Pooh-Ba gave us a melodic baritone that demonstrated great support and vocal control throughout the complex score with which he was entrusted. Excellent job.

     Kyle Oram, as Ko-Ko, plays the Lord High Executioner as if in spite of himself. Oram delivers bravado, smarm and remorse in equal measure, showing himself a very clever actor. Like Whimpey, he handles complex vocals expertly.

     Julie Suazo, as Katisha, in claiming Nanki-Poo for her own, confidently imposed her presence on the chorus threatening them with the Emperor’s wrath. Though her voice is strong, and the acting sure, in her first number, I felt she struggled a bit to stay on the right pitch. But she sure got her imposing presence right. I suppose wearing a towering wig measuring several cubic yards (no mean feat by the way) provides an able assist.

     Another great vocal performance was given to us by Kaitlyn Dahl as Peep-Bo. She has a concise contralto with a tone that carries a pleasing weight, blending perfectly with the recorded score and making me wish she had been featured more.

     This entire cast shows themselves nimble and adept. They made every word of the important lyrics clearly understood. The choreography by music director, Rob Moffat, doing double duty, is sensibly apt, but dared to be deliciously dingy. This small chorus (i.e., everyone in the cast in most cases) is one of the strongest ensembles I’ve seen. They winked at the action and I had a truly palpable sense that I was watching improvisation. The whole production shimmers with a sense of never knowing what would happen next!

     As they did in most of their work, Gilbert and Sullivan included many asides to the topical culture of their time. But UVU masterfully updated the “Not Missed” musical number with references to “Obama optimists”, “Spanish speakers” and “religionists” that included a pointed shout-out to BYU. This number managed to diss most disparate factions of the populace. There was a guffaw in every line.

     As the audience enters, they see the proscenium covered in beautiful Japanese screens, with projections on the wing fronts. Along with the prelude music, a good mood is set. And then the screen opens. It made me take in my breath. Steven Purdy’s set is wonderful. Beautiful and interesting to look at, the raked stage features embedded platforms, one of which extends out. This is a professional level of superb stagecraft and design, befitting any opera. Unfortunately, not all sight lines for this configuration at the Noorda are perfect for this show. If you sit either too far right or left in the house, parts of some great moments might be missed.

     The Noorda Theater at UVU is a beautiful space. For The Mikado, they have mounted a fantastic lobby display of kimonos. And a helpful note or two is posted there to familiarize patrons with some British terms and expressions heard in the play.

     I’ll admit I’ve never been terribly familiar with Gilbert and Sullivan, but this production makes me want to be. What is Mikado‘s secret of longevity? Wonderful music that remains enchanting after 128 years. The melodies are tuneful and hummable. The harmonies of the chorus in this production are like an expansive breath of sweet air, full and right, and the sardonic lyrics give audiences a jolt of recognition.

     UVU’s production is an absolute delight, both topical and timeless at once. Remember: The Mikado is SATIRE. Nothing so sums up this cast’s machinations as Poo-Ba’s line: “Choose your fiction, and I’ll endorse it.” Hanging on to their wigs for dear life, UVU’s cast and crew punted. And scored big.

Performances are April 11 through13, and April 15 through the 20th at 7:30 pm. Matinees at 2 pm on April 13th and 20th. Just eleven performances -See it while you can!

 

General Admission: $15.00

 

Noorda Theater at Utah Valley University

 

800 West University Parkway
Orem, UT 84058

 

(801) 863-8000 – Info number, ask for School of Arts, or Noorda Theater Box Office.

 

 

 

James Arrington, Chase Grant, James Bounous, Amanda Maxwell, Kaitlyn Dahl, Regan Whimpey, Kyle Oram, Allen Stout, Steven Purdy, Julie Suazo, Rob Moffat

 

The Covey’s Enchanted April Delights and Inspires

By Kara Henry

Local writer and director Elizabeth Hansen has collaborated with composer C. Michael Perry to bring us Enchanted April, a musical based on the novel, The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim. If there’s one thing I’ve learned since I started reviewing shows, it’s that Utah-grown composers and playwrights are good. When I first started seeing local writers in action, I was skeptical that local talent could be that engrossing, but I have since repented.  This show, Enchanted April, is proof and is certainly worth seeing.

Enchanted April tells the story of four women, practically strangers, who decide to vacation for a month in Italy together. Set in 1922 soon after the end of World War I, these women are trying to once again get their bearings, find who they are in the world and what they want out of life.

The story starts with Lotty (Carla Kirk) and Rose (Jessica Lake) seeing the same advertisement in the paper for a castle that is being let in Italy. Lotty, who has seen Rose in church, decides they should be friends and that they should spend the month of April in Italy together. But, they need two more women to help them pay for the venture, and so they advertise, and Lady Caroline (Mimi West) and Mrs.  Fisher (Lynne D. Bronson) answer their ad, each for her own reasons.

The set, designed by C. Michael Perry, consisted of table and chairs that most of the action centered around. Although simple, it supported the action, and with such a small stage and so many actors, anything more would have seemed overwhelming. To further give a sense of setting, Impressionistic paintings were projected behind the actors. Although I loved the sense of life and space this gave, I also felt it was sometimes disjointed stylistically, as the slides were pulled from many different sources.

Rose starts out her journey as a woman driven to hide her pain with duty and charitable works for the poor. Her relationship with her husband, played by Rulon Galloway, is strained and unhappy.  Lake effectively uses her clear and vibrant voice to take us inside her character’s outer shell. She particularly stood out in her song “All For Beauty.” Galloway comes in on the end verse of this song, and he likewise gave a moving performance. I did find them a somewhat mismatched pair, however. There was a large age difference, and I found it hard to see what drew them together in the first place. Galloway’s character was a bit bumbling and there are hints that he is a bit of a philanderer. And I never felt that he redeemed himself or changed my opinion of him.

The other married couple in the show is Lotty and Mellersh (Ken Hall). Kirk plays Lotty with an energy that is infectious. She is tired of being a slave to her husband and longs for an escape. She is the one who drives all the action forward and ignites the changes in all the women. Kirk burns with conviction and certainty and is simply a delight to watch. Although Kirk sings with less power than the rest of the cast, her soft and gentle voice works for her character. One of my favorite songs is her duet “Just Think” with Rose in the beginning. The music imitates the rippling water, and it took me away to the ocean. Another favorite duet was “The Journey.” Lake and Kirk bounce in time to the music while sitting on their luggage to simulate the movement of a train while talking (singing) over their relationships. Brilliant piece of direction and a good piece of character development.

Lotty’s husband, played by Hall, has one of my favorite songs in the show, which is altogether too short. It reminds me a bit of “Hymn to Him” from My Fair Lady in tone—a song that shows a very limited point of view and is ripe with sexism, but in a way that the audience knows how very misguided the singer is being. It’s a very clever song, perfectly illustrating Mellersh’s character and I wanted more! Hall sang it with the perfect attitude of a selfish, unthinking husband. He later manages to transform himself, while still keeping the essence of his original character.

This is something I was quite impressed with throughout the production, and I praise director Elizabeth Hansen for. It’s not easy to have nearly every one of the characters go through that much of a transformation while not having them seem too different to have it out of bounds for the character. As the writer and the director, Hansen hit this balance well.

Bronson brought a warmth to Mrs. Fisher that made me adore her. She begins the show as a grumpy older woman who is afraid she is useless and has nothing to offer. Bronson brought a delightful sense of humor to her character and an unexpected warmth, especially with the use of her rich voice. I did think that perhaps her character was the least consistent as far as the script—we are told she wants to sit and remember, but then it’s implied that she’s never been loved by anyone. So what does she want to remember? There are several other inconsistencies with her character in the script that I found bothersome, but Bronson overcomes these.

West brings Lady Caroline to life—and she sparkles with a hard light. Caroline is jaded, spoiled, heartbroken and directionless. West manages to be spoiled without being unsympathetic, and snobbish without seeming rude.

Jubal Joslyn, who plays Briggs, the owner of the castle, has possibly one of the best male voices I’ve heard in quite some time. When he sings “Old Wisteria Tree” about a tree planted in the garden of the castle by his grandfather for his grandmother. He’s looking off into the corner of the theater and I swear I kept expecting to see that when I glanced over.

The two Italian servants, Francesca (Dawn Veree) and Domenico (Dane Allred), managed to seem Italian without descending into stereotypes. They were also responsible for changing the set, and did it quickly and effectively.

I very much enjoyed the music for this show. I found “I Wish,” “Show Me the View” and “All for Beauty” particularly moving and beautiful. I did sometimes find myself wishing for songs that were a little different in tone, which is why I think I enjoyed “A Solicitors Wife” so very much. “She’s Blushing” also took us a bit out of the slower paced, serious songs (Bronson was a doll in this song!). “Francesca’s Lament” also took us out of the slower pace; although “Francesca’s Lament” seemed a bit out of place to me, since it’s the first we hear the cook speak any English, and I felt it broke up the flow of the narrative slightly. Another strong point was the way the music interacted with the movement on stage. One of my favorite examples was when Lotty slams her hands down on the table and the accompanist (Ronnie L. Bishop, who did a beautiful job) slams her hands down on the piano at the exact right moment.

Hansen’s book was quite good too. There were so many unexpectedly funny moments in a show that could have been dowdy and slow (the humor was also owing to the solid acting and Hansen’s direction). The pacing was well done and the dialogue was natural.

Overall, I felt this was a solid, solid show and certainly worth seeing. Grab a friend and go celebrate the power of friendship and love.

Provo Covey Center for the Arts

Utah Lyric Opera

Enchanted April A Musical 

Written by Elizabeth Hansen

Music by C. Michael Perry

Covey Center for the Arst, Brinton Theater, 425 W Center Street, Provo, UT 84601

April 11-13, 18-20, 25-27, May 3-4, 2013
7:30 PM; 2 PM matinee on May 4

$12.00   Ticket Office and Information: 801-852-7007

http://www.coveycenter.org