By Erin Orr
The Desert Star’s newest play, The Hungry Games, written by Bryan Dayley tells the story of our future after a worldwide famine, a world run by greedy fast food corporations. Katnip Neverclean (Alexis Owen), her gothic little sister Grimrose Neverclean (Kaitlin Williams) and their “barely there” friend Pizza Malarky (Jason West) enter a contest set bythe evil Donald MacRonald (Matt Kohler), CEO of the MacRonald’s fast food chain. The grand prize is 1 million dollars! Little do the contestants know that the entire event is rigged.The evil clown has no intention of awarding the prize. So he decides to send his own posh daughter Little Debbie (Kelly Knight-Clifton) into the games to take out the contestants, including Gail (Pronounced “Guy-el”, Bryan Dayley.) With the help of Haymitch Hogan (Matt O’Malley), can they stop this evil?
The Desert Star Playhouse is a dinner theater set in an Olde Time-y Western Saloon and the waiters and waitresses dress accordingly. The staff was very friendly and willing to help out wherever needed. When we got to our table, there was a basket of popcorn waiting for us. Our waitress was great at getting our drinks refilled and getting our food to us without much interruption of the show. And the food was great!
The show was introduced by the pianist, Jill Flanagan, who played all songs, hero chords and villain chords of the show. She started to get the audience warmed up with a sing-a-long (Grand Ole Flag). I was delighted by her ability to play and keep up with the actors, and the actors’ ability to keep up with her. And she got in a few jokes of her own.
As a big fan of the novel The Hunger Games, I was a little nervous to see how this parody would play out. But I was not disappointed. You could not ask for a better cast if you tried, especially in the lead actors. Owen’s performance of Katnip was great fun to watch – she has wonderful stage presence and had excellent chemistry with everyone. West’s comedic timing was spot on. He played his character with such ease and is very charming. There were times where I found myself wanting to run up on stage to give him a hug because nobody notices him till the Hungry Games start.McKenzie Heaton as the role of ensemble, playing about 5-7 different characters through-out the entire show from the Hamburglar to Katnip’s mother to butter loving Paula Dean. Her cameos were very well executed and gave a great performance.Playing the villain is not easy, but Kohler as MacRonald was up for the task and nailed it.
Co-Directors Scott Holman and Mary Parker Williams kept the their cast in high energy, and the fast scene changes, make this show enjoyable to watch. The costumer, Lynn Funk, did a wonderful job dressing the actors. And I must give props to the techs of the show (Lighting: Eric Jensen and Brian Tolman, Stage Mangers: Danny Jackman and Josh Manning) for adding the ambiance on the stage.
The only thing I feel I should address is the fact that the seating in the theater feels a bit cramped. It’s a wonderful place for a first or second date, because you get nice and cozy with your neighbor.
This show was very fun for me, as well as the audience. There were many times I found myself laughing out loud. All in all, this is a show worth watching.
Desert Star Playhouse
4861 S. State Street
Murray, Utah 84107
Box Office: 801-266-2600
Play from Aug 29 – Nov 8
Mon, Wed, Thurs 7 PM
Fri 6 & 8:30 PM
Sat11:30 AM, 2:30, 6 & 8:30 PM
Adult $13.95 Matinees, $15.95 Mon-Thur Eve, $17.95 Fri-Sat Eve
Child $9.95 11 and Under
Student $15.95 (Mon-Thu)
Senior $12.95 65+ (Sat Matinees)