Utah Valley University’s production of “The Caucasian Chalk Circle” is truly “Epic”

Chalk Circle

By Ashley Ramsey

 UVU’s latest production, The Caucasian Chalk Circle is a brave and innovative production. One of L. Bertolt Brecht’s most famous plays, it is a retelling of a Chinese play called The Circle of Chalk, but is also very similar to the story of King Solomon found in the Bible. The play follows the story of young kitchen maid named Grusha (Devin Neff) who when her hometown erupts into war is faced with the decision of fleeing with the young baby prince, Michael, who has been left behind by his mother, or leaving the child behind to the soldiers who seek to take his life.  She has recently been engaged to a young solider, Simon (Brian Kocherhans) who has now left with the armies to fight in battle. We watch as Grusha and Michael fight to survive while meeting a colorful cast of characters along the way.

Playwright Brecht produced theatre with a concept called “Epic Theatre”. “Theatre consists in this: in making live representations of reported or invented happenings between human beings and in doing so with a view to entertainment. The artists’ object is to appear strange and even surprising to the audience. He achieves this by looking strangely and himself and at his work”. Brecht wants you to be aware that you are watching a play. He didn’t want viewers to be swept away in emotions. If you watch from a distance, you can more easily analyze the situation in front of you. It is theatre with a message.

 Director Laurie Harrop-Purser does a wonderful job in creating the world in which this production takes place. Purser has used many different tactics to make this show come to life. Music, multi-media, and innovative staging beautifully blend. One of the strongest elements of this show is the ensemble’s performance, which can only come from a strong director at the helm.

Each member of the ensemble in this play takes on at least 3-4 roles. The cast has done an amazing job of building entertaining and engaging characters. Jon Liddiard who plays the role of Azdak, delivers a performance that does not quit from the moment he enters to the curtain call.  His energy and commitment to his character is a highlight of the show. Other stand out performances are Devin Neff as Grusha and Maddy Forsythe as Singer/Governor’s wife. Both do a superb job in carrying much of the show. Brian Kocherhans as Simon/Sergeant is perfectly balanced in his delivery of two very different characters.

 Costume Designer Natasha Hoffman and scenic designer Jason Sullivan have truly created works of art in their prospective designs. The costumes and set were as much a character as the actors on stage. Their designs are some of the best I have seen in awhile.

 Caucasian Chalk Circle is a fantastic theatre-going experience and there are very few that come along like it. Is weird? Yes. Are there moments that will completely pull you out of the show? Yes.  Is that what it is designed to do? Absolutely yes. I walked out of the theatre wanting to turn right back around and make the actors do it again for me. The level of commitment and talent that it takes to put on a show of this caliber is high.  It may not be your favorite show ever, but it you will not walk out of the theatre the same as you walked in. The cast and crew will ask you to make a choice. It truly is theatre with a message and it is one worth hearing and experiencing.

 Caucasian Chalk Circle

The performances will be January 23rd – January 25th, and January 27th – February 1st at 7:30 PM. There will be matinee showings on January 29th and February 1st at 2:00 PM

$8.00 Students, $12.00 Adults

Tickets can be purchased at the UVU Noorda Box Office, or online here: http://goo.gl/FH1yLb

The Grand Theater’s “Our Town” is Quietly Beautiful

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By Jennifer Mustoe and Chelsea Benjamin

On the way to see Our Town, I told Chelsea I felt like such a chump. I’m a Humanities graduate, love American literature and have a passion for theater and yet knew almost nothing about Our Town. She admitted she knew nothing, either. (But the fact that she is over 30 years younger than I am makes me the bigger chump, I think.)

So I am very pleased that my first Our Town was at Salt Lake Community College’s Grand Theater. I love this theater and was happy to be back. I saw last year’s amazing Death of a Salesman at the same theater, so I was ready to be amazed.

Our Town is not a dazzling show, if what you want is Big, Flashy, Loud, Outlandish or Uncommon. In fact, it is about a common town, with common people, living common lives. It sort of reminded me of Sarah Orne Jewett’s The Country of the Pointed Firs, another nice, quiet piece of American literature, as familiar as apple pie with vanilla ice cream.

What makes Our Town sing is how it all layers together. The set is very sparse. This isn’t because there is a small budget for the set decoration. This is as the playwright, Thornton Wilder, scripted it. Set decoration by Halee Rasumssen and lighting by Spencer Brown were fabulous. The set, though sparse, had an amazing backdrop and the starlit sky was beautiful. Sound by Joe Killian was great, too.

The Stage Manager/Narrator, played by Robert Scott Smith, takes us through the play, pointing out houses here, churches there, all in our imaginations. But we can picture them in our minds as we’ve seen them all many times on many road trips to many small towns. Smith is such a good actor, I wanted to take him home and introduce him to all my friends because he was clearly my new best friend. He radiates love of town, love of people, friendly love period. He plays several other small parts and each one was a completely different character, though all he changed was his voice, facial expressions and posture.

Our Town is basically the story of two families, the Gibbs and the Webbs, who live next door to each other. I don’t want to tell any of the story, so I will simply say that these families are onstage the most. Daniel Beecher as Dr. Gibbs was very well done, especially after I saw him in the hall later and thought, hey, he isn’t old! He sure acted old. I mean this in a good way. Mrs. Gibbs, played by Julie Silvestro Waite was equally fine. She can holler, that one, and every time she did, we laughed. We’ve all been that mother, seen that mother, or been mothered by that mother. Their son George, played by Cody V. Thompson, was so believable. I found I liked George a great deal. My only concern is he looked older than the teenager he was supposed to be in earlier scenes and wondered why he didn’t have a baseball cap on or something to young him down a little. George was purported to be quite the baseball player.

The Webbs next door had their own dad, Mr. Webb, played by David Hanson. I loved Hanson’s character and loved Hanson’s performance. There was something about him that made me just want him to by my next door neighbor. I’ll admit it, all the leads’ characters were people I’d love to have as neighbors, which speaks well of their performances. Mrs. Webb, another hollering mother (I loved this!) played by Betsy West, was fantastic. As she shucked her invisible beans, I could practically hear them snap. Emily Webb, their daughter, played by Haeleigh Royall did well as she went from child to adult.

The play is three acts, Act One in 1901, Act Two in 1904, and Act Three in 1913, so the youngsters in the play (George and Emily) had to grow up and both actors did this well. The time the play took place gave me a moment’s pause, as the costumes, by Amanda Reiser, were more 1950s. I wondered if I had read it wrong about 1901, but then heard the Stage Manager mention horses and buggies. I admit, I thought this costuming choice a little odd, as there were also people in modern dress, so I was a little confused. I imagine the idea behind this was, though Our Town is set in the early 1900s, it could be today in theme and even some story lines.

Last year’s Death of a Salesman was directed by Mark Fossen and Fossen directed Our Town as well. I realized how amazing his direction was about halfway through the show, when I realized how much movement was going on onstage and it all looked so completely natural. It takes work to make things look so normal!

My only real concerns were that I couldn’t always hear some of the dialogue, and a few actors spoke so quickly I lost some of what they said.

Our Town introduces many other characters in bits and pieces and they all felt like someone I’d either known once upon a time or would like to know now. I’m sure that’s what Thornton Wilder wanted. He wasn’t out to shock us. He was out to teach us. The lesson we learn is: pay attention to your life, with all its ups and downs. And be grateful for it, while you’re at it. I certainly appreciated that message. And appreciated very much this wonderful, touching production. Bravo!

January 23 – February 8
$10-$24
Evenings: 7:30 pm
Saturday Matinees: 2 pm

The Grand Theater

1575 S State St., Salt Lake City, UT

www.the-grand.org

Midvale Main Street Theater’s “Hairspray” Has Got the Beat!

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By Rachelle Porter and Garrett Porter

Once again we found ourselves out of time and rushing to get to the Midvale Main Street Theatre on time for Hairspray, Midvale Main Street Theatre’s current production. We very carefully ate our hotdogs in the car while chatting excitedly about the well-known and well-loved story we were about to go experience. Because we were a little short on time, Garrett didn’t get enough food in his belly and Rachelle as ever was thirsty twenty minutes later  Luckily, this theater has fantastic concessions and the seats are pulled up to tables in the theatre. Talk about dinner AND a show! We were instantly taken with the fun almost diner-like atmosphere that they have created at the Midvale Main Street Theatre.

 The story follows a young “pleasantly plump” girl, Tracy Turnblad, played by Taylor Lawrence, who fights for integration in the 1960s.  Tracy’s dream is to be on  “The Corny Collins Show” because of her love for music and dancing. She “goes to Patterson Park High School watches “The Corny Collins Show” and does nothing else” apparently.  When she finally manages to win a spot on the show, she becomes a star almost instantly, in spite of her less than svelte appearance. She doesn’t look anything like the other young women who star on the show. This fearless girl manages to get herself and just about everyone else into trouble standing up for what she believes in.

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Ms. Lawrence did a fantastic job playing the lead and bringing emotion and style to her character Tracy Turnblad. (But where is the Tracy Turnblad flip hairdo?) Tracy’s mother Edna captured our hearts with her sweet yet somehow masculine personality and comical remarks. The folks at Midvale Main Street Theatre kept the tradition of having the role played by a man alive by casting Greg Brockman as the lovely Edna Turnblad. Brockman performed the role magnificently with his tremendous bass voice, adding another exceptional layer of hilarity to every scene he performed in. Allie Duke as Amber Von Tussle could not have been a better fit as Tracy’s rival. She knew how to groove and had the voice to match. Ms. Duke’s body language and facial expressions were to die for and had everyone rolling out of their seats in laughter, bringing a great deal of attention to her character even when not occupying center stage.

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The other leads were commendable. Link played by Colyn Quinn had a great voice and his chemistry with Tracy made the show sparkle. Tracy’s best friend Penny, played by Cassidy Ross, was a delight, as was her mother in real life, Tammy Ross, who played Prudy, Penny’s mother in the show. Our question is (and we say this jokingly), do this mother and daughter have the same issues at home? Motormouth Maybelle, played by Leah Jacobs, had an amazing set of pipes. And Terry Hicks III who plays her son Seaweed, who becomes the show’s interracial couple when he and Penny fall in love, had good chemistry with his love interest and did a great job as the play’s “bad boy.” JJ Bateman’s Corny Collins was a lot of fun and had a great voice.

 The cast was able to work through their opening night jitters quite well during the first half. There were a few missed lines and steps but they played them off gracefully and came out the second half bursting with confidence, vigor and energy that the audience could not help but catch. The choreography by Aaron Ford was a little bit stiff, but with a few shows under their belt we are quite sure they will loosen up and the boogying nature of the play will come ever more alive. Because this show really has dancing as one of its themes, we had hoped the dancing would have been a little bit livelier.

The other disappointment was costumes, by Jan Harris. We had hoped for more authentic 60s attire.

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There was a lot of young rising talent on this stage. Director Tammy Ross did an exceptional job stretching this cast to their potential and helping them grow. There are certainly some future stars developing their talent in this production.

 Overall this show was a toe-tapping (literally feet dancing to the beat) good time and we were left laughing through the hilarities and commiserating through the heartbreaks of the story. We walked out holding hands and smiling, waiting until we got out of earshot to make sure to mention to each other that WOW–it was so fun! However, you may want to consider leaving the youngsters home for this one as there is some adult humor and language. In the end, if you are up for being carried imaginatively and emotionally into a classic story of fighting for change in a crazy world then you should be finding yourself down to the Midvale Main Street Theatre in time to catch a showing of Hairspray! 

Hairspray

Midvale Main St. Theatre, 7711 South Main St., Midvale, UT 84047

January 23 – Feb 8 Mon. – Sat. 7 PM and Sat. 2 PM

Tickets Adults – $15 Children – $12

Phone: 801.566.0596

http://www.midvaletheatre.com/

Utah Rep’s “Bonnie and Clyde” Gives a Utah Premiere with a Bang!

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By Daniel Brassard

The names Bonnie and Clyde go together like Peanut Butter and Jelly. They are familiar to most people and are a part of American history. The musical Bonnie and Clyde, presented by Utah Repertory Company, introduces us to the specifics of their story and reveal the human element behind the infamy.

Young Clyde (Kimball Bradford) was well performed and showed no fear of singing to the audience or battling imagined foes with his rifle. The adult Clyde, played by Johnny Hebda goes from an adventurous and mischievous kid to a tortured and desperate man in the span of two hours. His anguish and desire for more—more life, more love, more fun– can be keenly felt from the back row of the theater. Though Hebda’s musical talent is noticeably eclipsed by his supporting cast, he acts the part and was believable.

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Young Bonnie (Abigail Parkinson) was a very talented signer and captured the essence of a precocious girl. Grown up Bonnie (Madeline Weinberger) falls from childhood dreams of fame to the adult roller coaster of infamy. Weinberger’s singing voice and acting talent certainly brought life to the role. Her solos and duets were as soulful as her dramatic scenes. Bonnie’s mother (Kara Henry) and Clyde’s mother and father (Lisa Clayton, Perry M. Whitehair) were effective at helping us understand the strong bond of family that were ever-present during the outlaws’ struggles by realistically portraying the family dynamic. Buck (Johnny Wilson) was very believable as the man torn between his brother and his wife. Blanche (Michelle Moore/Twyla Wilson) gave the most memorable performance of the show for me. Her vocals were spot on as was her portrayal of the duly devoted wife and believer. Ted Hinton (Dallin Major) did a wonderful job at making me believe the divided nature of his character’s heart–one side with affection toward Bonnie and the other as dutiful lawman. And his singing voice was probably the best male vocals in the show. I would have liked to see more of the character Hammer (David Henry), both due to Henry’s charismatic stage presence and the historical significance of his part in the true story.

The other standout role was the Minister, by Christopher Bradford. He gave a powerful performance with great vocals and provided some of the more entertaining aspects of a rather dark show.

The musical Bonnie and Clyde is a PG-13 show with adult themes including sex, violence and death, which director Adam Cannon dealt with sensitively and appropriately. Instances of smoking, profanity, gun violence and undress (though no nudity) are present and addressed on the website (http://utahrep.org/) and before the start of the show. I found the content to be completely appropriate for the subject matter and tastefully done by the theater company. As an example, there are weapon props with blank ammunition used. We as an audience were warned about them before the show and the cast seemed to avoid pointing them at the audience. While the loud nature of the gun props was intense, it was not too intense and certainly added to the drama and severity of the scenes in which they were used.

The costumes, including the amazing amount of costume changes by Weinberger, were incredible—all very period, detailed and fabulous. Kudos to costume designer Nancy Susan Cannon.  Anjanette Mickelsen amassed a remarkably talented orchestra—the live music in this show is fantastic. Lighting by Michael Gray and set design by Steve Twede is effective in Lehi Art Center’s small space.

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As I have seen several shows from the Utah Repertory Theater, I feel that two things are generally true. One is that this company has a surprisingly large group of talent, actors who can sing and act with rare high caliber. Two is that tech problems like microphone feedback and a lack of consistent sound quality remind me that there is still room and necessity for growth here.

It seems to me that this is a rare opportunity to see this show based on the narrow window of performances and the single company offering the experience. I would absolutely recommend seeing it and would say that the troupe did a powerful job at putting it on.

The Utah premiere of Bonnie and Clyde by the Utah Repertory Theater Company is playing at the Lehi Arts Center at 685 North Center Street in Lehi from Jan 17th through Feb 1st. Performances on Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm with matinees at 2pm. Tickets can be purchased at UtahRep.org or at the door.

“Echo Theatre’s Pygmalion is a Fair Lady of a Show”

A Utah Theater Review by Ben Christensen

My post-college reintroduction to theater came via a role in a 2012 production of My Fair Lady, so I was excited to see another interpretation of the familiar story in Echo Theatre’s production of Pygmalion. In case you aren’t familiar with Pygmalion, it is the play upon which My Fair Lady is based—the story of Cockney-speaking flower girl Eliza Doolittle who is trained to be a proper lady by linguist Henry Higgins. The story delves into themes of class, personal autonomy and human relationships, and in my opinion these themes are explored more deeply in the original play than in its musical successor. Echo Theatre’s production, directed by Jason Sullivan, does a fine job of treating these complex themes while engaging and entertaining the audience. Continue reading

The Empress Theater’s “Around the World in 80 Days” is Quite the Trip!

 

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By Jennifer Mustoe and Chelsea Benjamin

If you’ve never been to the Empress Theater in Magna, when you go you will find out a few things. One, it’s pretty far. From where I live in Spanish Fork, it’s really far. Two, it is a fabulous space. A three-sided stadium seating theater, it is refurbished, comfortable and cozy but not cramped. Three, Magna has some avid theater fans who love to laugh and enjoy the productions from their hometown.

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The Empress’ newest production, Around the World in 80 Days, by Chris Blackwood (book and lyrics) and Piers Chater Robinson (music) is based on the Jules Verne novel. Let me say right now, I’ve never read anything by Jules Verne, so I can’t say if this musical is at all true to the story. But after the big hullabaloo over Saving Mr. Banks and Disney’s desecration of Mary Poppins, I jolly well hope this show is more true to the original book. But I digress…

Around the World in 80 Days is about Phileas Fogg who makes a bet that he can get around the world in, yes, 80 days. There is a lot of money riding on this as well as his reputation. This story takes place pre-airline, so getting all the way around the world took some doing and 80 days seemed ridiculous to Fogg’s detratctors. Thinking Fogg has recently robbed a bank, Inspector Fix follows Fogg on his 80-day quest and along the way, Fogg rescues Mrs. Aouda and she joins the group.

 

There was much Chelsea and I liked about 80 Days. First, the three male leads were very entertaining, though apparently Geoffrey Gregory, who plays the lead, Phileas Fogg, was ill. I honestly couldn’t tell until the end of the show when he was slick with fever and his vioce broke. But you really couldn’t tell the whole show and he soldiered on and proved his acting chops and then some. I was also pleased with his costuming–but I’ll get to that later.

Jeff Erickson’s Passepartout (pronounced pass-a-por-too) is a fun, silly sidekick to the fiercely competitive Fogg. I’m not sure if it was director Jake Anderson’s character choice or Erickson’s, but Passepartout had this little hitch-hop in his walk every few steps. At first, it seemed rather odd, but it sort of grew on me and I was impressed that Erickson kept it up the whole show. Erickson has excellent comedic timing and his physical comedy (watch him in the song where he gets drunk–he’s a riot) is awesome. His son is also in the show. More about the kids later, but I do know from personal experience that being in a show with your child makes the experience so much fun!

Inspector Fix, played by Josh Astle, was my favorite. He had a pretty good voice, but his movement was by far the best in the show. He was very at home with all kinds of silly dance moves and took over every scene he was in. His banter with Erickson was especially funny.

Because there are a lot of people in the ensemble, and the space is small, and the show is long (one of its less than appealing aspects), there is minimal set design–a piling of different-sized steamer trunks that are used throughout the show. They were easily moved and this kept the intervals between the scenes at a minimum.

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There were a few sound glitches but for the most part, the sound, by sound operator Melissa Buxton was good. It was way too loud at the beginning and drowned out anyone who wasn’t wearing a microphone, but that was remedied.

Vocal director Rachael Rasmussen got all her players singing, but there were only a few really great voices in the bunch. The ensemble numbers were great, lots of energy and fun. Choreographer Corina Johnson played it safe and the dance numbers were very well-executed because they were simple. I prefer this. I have seen shows where the dance steps were way out of the range of its performers and it was a mess. 80 Days had no messes. And that is good.

There was a troupe of little kids that were darling. Every time they came out, the crowd sighed and laughed. They were adorable. Another stand out in the cast is Geordan Briggs, who played a number of characters and might have been the best actor in the ensemble. I’d like to see him in a bigger role.

I had two issues with the show that I am going to mention. First, the show was really long. It would be nice if it started at 7 PM instead of 7:30, as I’m sure many in the audience had a long way to drive home. It isn’t the fault of anyone in the show and the director had things clipping along. But it’s a long show. (80 days is a long time to show onstage!) For this, I would be cautious about recommending this show for anyone under the age of 8 or 9. It’s too long to sit.

The second issue I had with the show is probably one that nobody else had. I had heard through the grapevine that this show was going to be in Steampunk style. If you don’t know what Steampunk is, think the most recent Sherlock Holmes movies or see a photo of me in a Steampunk photo shoot at the bottom of the review. (Or Google Steampunk or look at it on Pinterest.) Steampunk is all about Victorian and gears and chains and pocket watches. It’s cool. Now I realize that finding cool-looking corsets for all the women and giving everyone a pocket watch and everyone wearing a cool top hat or bowler is impossible. This is community theater and on a strict (meaning small) budget. But there is one that that could have upped 80 Days‘ cool factor dramatically at very little cost and made the cast all look far more cohesive. And that is make-up. (And I notice there was no make up person for this show, so that explains a lot.) Fogg was made up properly and had a pretty good Steampunk costume and an AWESOME top hat with gears and chains and all kinds of cool Steampunk trinkets. But he was the only one with cool make-up and it stood out. Yeah, he looked cool (dark blush on his cheeks, dark eyeliner, silvery lavender lipstick) but I was disappointed that the whole cast didn’t just jump into Steampunk in a very inexpensive but creative and effective way. EVERY woman should have had lots of dark, exotic eyeshadow, fake eyelashes, black eyeliner, dark blush and big red lips. EVERY man should have had a similar look to Fogg. This would have given the cast the right look for the cost of about ten bucks worth of make-up. Nobody except Fogg had enough make up on at all, Steampunk or not, and especially the little kids looked washed out, like little ghosts.

I would recommend this show for people who want to see a show that has never been performed in North America before and want to see something new and different. It is a family show, though there are a few bad words, mostly said by children, strangely, but nothing too horrifying.

Around the World in 80 Days

The Empress Theater

9104 West 2700 South, Magna, Utah 84044
(801) 347-7373

All tickets are just $10 and reserved seating
Special pricing for groups of 10 or more (contact the box office for reservations or email to historicempress@gmail.com)

Performs Jan. 3, 4, 6, 10, 11*, 11, 13, 17, 18, 20, 24 and 25 with one matinee on Jan. 18 at 2 PM. All other shows at 7:30 PM.

www.empresstheatre.com

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The Desert Star Has a Phunny Phantom

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By Erin Orr

The Desert Star Playhouse’s The Phantom of the Opera is a story about a mysterious masked apparition, The Phantom (Trenton Krumenbacher), who haunts the Paris Opera House. He makes the opera’s egotistical diva, Madame Carlotta (Laurel Warr) lose her voice so that his protégé, the beautiful Christine (Jennifer Aquirre) can sing in her place. Christine not only impresses the audience, she also rekindles the love of her childhood sweetheart, Raoul (Danny Eggers). Enraged with jealousy, The Phantom abducts Christine and carries her away to his secret hideaway.

The Phantom of the Opera (I’ve Grown Accustomed to Your Face) is directed by Scott Holman and Mary Parker Williams. They did a wonderful job with this fast-paced comedy. Christine played by Jennifer and Raoul played by Danny made a amazing duo. They played off of each other really well. Trenton was a joy to watch as the Phantom. Anything that I have to say would be applied to the entire cast. This cast has great chemistry together and amazing voices!

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But I do have to say that my favorite characters were Madame Giry played by Alexis Owen and Sorelli played by J. Tyrus Williams. These two had me almost rolling on the floor. Alexis’ character choices were spot on. And J. Tyrus playing Madame Carlotta’s partner on the stage. From the first time he opened his mouth, he won me over!

Jill Flanagan did a wonderful job on the piano playing along with the show, even matching the steps of some of the characters. Eric Jensen and Richard Nielsen did a great job lighting up the stage. Costume designers Lynn Funk and Mary Parker Williams did their homework and found really great and colorful costumes.

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All in all, the show was really fun to watch. They had me laughing from start to finish. The food is exceptional and desserts are amazing (But no pie). This is a must see show for everyone! Take your friends and family.

The Desert Star Playhouse

The Phantom of the Opera (I’ve Grown Accustomed to Your Face)

By: Peter Van Slyke

4861 S State St, Murray, UT 84107

January 9 – March 22

Tickets: Adults – $18.95 Child- $10.95
(801) 266-2600

SFHS’s “Hamlet” is an Interesting Interpretation of a Tough Play

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By Caden Mustoe

Spanish Fork High School’s Hamlet has a lot going for it. I will begin with my favorite aspects of the play.

  1. The set was brilliant. It had many details, like columns and on the front was a cathedral. On the back of the columns were statues and they were “too legit to quit.”
  2. The dancing was interesting. In between scenes, a troupe of dancers performed in dance what had just happened in the play. Choreographer Kamarei Fernandes got her group moving smoothly and with a lot of passion. But I didn’t understand it perfectly as the mirror characters weren’t wearing the exact costumes of the players onstage. I would have understood more if both the Hamlets had been dressed identically, for instance.
  3. I could hear everyone. This is almost unprecedented for a high school play and many productions I’ve seen that aren’t high school. And, thank goodness, they didn’t attempt English accents, which can be iffy and choppy and distracting unless everyone does them well. This was in the Little Theater but even so, I was impressed that I could hear everyone.
  4. Kenny White who played Claudius was amazing. I’ve seen him in other productions and he never fails to impress.
  5. Ben Knowlton as Hamlet was pretty good, too.
  6. The costumes, by Jaden Jensen (who also was the dancing Hamlet), were very good. They were period pieces and looked like the real deal.
  7. Music director Maren Von Niederhausern (who played Osric) brought an interesting mix of music–orchestra mixed with dub step and sometimes just piano music. It set the mood very well.
  8. Make up designers Josie Connors and Kayla Koyle (who also played Gertrude) did a fantastic job.
  9. The concessions were awesome–very impressive.
  10. They had some little displays as you walk down a long hallway. They were researched bits of the play, like the costume designer’s notes, and other pictures. They actually looked like very cool Shakespeare school science projects.
  11. Lighting was spot on. (Pun.) But really, it was.
  12. All the tech was good, to be honest. Sound board run by Lizzy Phipps.
  13. Also, at the beginning of each scene, there was a recorded bit that said “Tell my story” echoing and over a few times. Then, one of the actors would turn to the narrator and say, “Tell my story!” I liked that it was different than your average Hamlet.

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There were other aspects of the play that were not my favorite, but let’s face it, Shakespeare is hard to do. Director Meg Grierson employed a narrator, Tani Lee, who also played Horatio when she pulled her hood off. It was a little confusing.

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All in all, I enjoyed this show and would recommend it. Get there early and sit in the front part of the theater so you can see all the make up and details. It’s worth it.

Hamlet: Prince of Denmark

January 6-8, 2014 7:00 PM

Spanish Fork High School Little Theater, 99 N 300 W, Spanish Fork

801-798-4060

http://sfhs.nebo.edu/

 

 

Dress-Lace Inc x frontrowreviewersutah Soft Lace Fit and Flare Dress

Dress-Lace Inc x frontrowreviewersutah Soft Lace Fit and Flare Dress / Embellished Waistline / Sheer Yoke

This frontrowreviewersutah x http://www.dress-lace.com soft red fit and flare dress is heavy on delicate feminine appeal. This piece screams ultimate romance and will not be easily forgotten by anyone. The delicate, woven fabric hugs you just right, flattering you in all of the right places. The round neckline adds a classic, sophisticated feel, while the jewel embellished waistband adds a bit of modern, punchy charm. Eyelash lace inserts maximize the romantic feel of this piece, transporting you to the wide open French countryside. The satin-like tie waist lends another romantic layer to this already sweet dress. The zip back fastening and button eye closure combine in the semi-sheer fabric in the back another special feature, as a tiny bit of skin gets to peek out from the neckline to your shoulders. Pair this lace dress with silver or nude kitten heels to keep it sweet. This lace dress comes in UK sizes 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, and 16.

Hale Orem’s “Kiss and Tell” Shouldn’t Be Kept Secret!

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By Rachelle Porter and Garrett Porter

Date night started as Rachelle and Garrett ran out the door and raced (without speeding, of course) through the streets hoping to get to the Hale Center Theater Orem in time for the doors to open. We found the theater after only one second-guessed “crap was that the theater we were supposed to be at?” incident. But that’s what happens when you run out the door without checking where exactly you are going. Garrett quickly found us a parking spot and only yelled at one other driver. Okay two maybe three, but he has a tendency to do that anyway. Thus, for future visits, we plan on entering the parking lot on the southeast side to avoid a road raging Garrett.

Upon entering the theater, we skipped past the concessions directly to our seats. Settling into the new seating of comfy red velvet chairs, we chatted about the cozy atmosphere of the theater and the welcoming nature of the attendants who had showed us where our seats were. We were amazed by the detail of the set and props. We delighted in reading up about the director and actors of the play and guessed as to its majesty. Only upon returning home in excitement did we learn that Kiss and Tell originally debuted in 1943 at the Baltimore Theater with an impressive number of performances–totaling over 900 in all! Set in the midst of World War II America, playwright F. Hugh Herbert delivers a tale of teenage girls swept up in the love craze for the handsome “uniform” boys off fighting the war. Things quickly spin out of control as the traditional parents begin jumping to conclusions, only worsening the situation. Add in a hidden marriage or two and we had ourselves a show worth every dollar spent and more.

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As the play developed, we quickly learned that Brighton Quinn Hertford was outdoing herself as spunky 15-going-on-20 year old Corliss Archer. Rather than just giving the lines, she brought life to the character and did a magnificent job capturing the different moods and the personality of Corliss. When mischievous Corliss and her best friend Mildred Pringle, played graciously by Allie Rae Saraiva, are caught raising money for the Red Cross by selling kisses, we learned that this play had been cast quite well. From short appearances of Lora Beth Brown as Louise (the maid) bringing moments of comic relief amidst the drama, to the sophisticated and gentlemanly appearances of James Bounous as Lieutenant Lenny Archer and Casey William Walker as Private Earhart, we approved director Kymberly Mellen’s casting choices. Jack Stokes also did a wonderful job with his dual roles of Mr. Willard, a painter who appears only in the opening scene, and Uncle George who begins the close of the show with a twist. Mark Pulham could not have been a better fit for Harry Archer, the witty father of Corliss. His fits of overwhelming rage and joy as he deals with the experiences of parenthood were shared alike by the audience.

Hands down, the show stoppers were two bright up and coming stars at HCTO. Ammon Loveless playing Dexter Franklin, obsessed with Corliss and neighbor of the Archers, and Mitch Bandley as Raymond Pringle, the ever annoying yet useful little brother of the Pringle family, brought down the house with their ecstatic and well played roles. The more quiet yet perfectly cast roles of Howard Fullmer playing Bill Franklin, Luone Ingram as Mary Franklin, Cathleen Metten as Dorothy Pringle and Shelly Stewart Truax as Janet Archer provided depth to the story that could not have been better enhanced by these actors.

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The only real critique we found was that the play had a bit of a rushed ending. The story was very well developed and then Kerplop! The End. Although the end was quick to play out, we wouldn’t hesitate in returning to experience it again! Overall, this was a fantastic performance put on by director Kymberly Mellen, cast and team of Hale Center Theater Orem. You will laugh, you will cry, you will cheer and if you don’t well ….at least we did!

Hale Center Theater Orem, 225 West 400 North Orem UT 84057

Kiss and Tell by F. Hugh Herbert.

Play runs from Dec 31 through Feb 8 with Evening performances at 7:30PM and Saturday Matinees at 3:00PM. Weeknight Tickets-A seat 19$, B seat 16$ Weekend Tickets-A seat 21$, B seat 18$. Children are 5$ less for A seats and 4$ less for B seats.

Call 801-226-8600

www.haletheater.org/