The OBT’s Dracula Vs The Mummy is a Halloween Hoot!

drac obt2By Cindy Whitehair

Famous last words…”I hope this works….”

It’s fall and that means everyone is bringing out their Halloween shows. The Off Broadway Theater’s offering this year is a new show, Dracula vs. The Mummy.

Anyone who has ever attended an OBT show knows the routine. A member of the cast (Clarence Strohn who plays Ron Wood, the museum curator) take the stage to warm up the audience, give birthday shout outs and set up the interactive sound cues for the audience. As Clarence finished his welcome he said, “I hope this works….” And in the OBT’s show, it does. Imagine if you can the Ben Stiller in the Night at the Museum series crossed with the old “Creature Feature” television series, add some slapstick, shake it up a little and you have Dracula vs. The Mummy.

Dracula vs. The Mummy is about a curse, a museum, it’s tour guide Mina (Kathryn Reynolds), the goofy curator, Dracula (Eric R. Jensen) and a Mummy (Jake Ulasich.) First the curse: an Egyptian princess fell in love with the guard assigned to protect her. The guard was killed for his transgression and as he died, she placed the mystic Medallion of Immortality (which she stole from her father the king) on her dying lover. It is said that the medallion is cursed. If anyone removes it from The Mummy, that person will be hunted down and killed by the Mummy.

drac obt3Fast forward a couple of thousand years to today where Mina (who has a “thing” for mummies) is showing off the museum’s Ancient Egypt exhibit to a strange visitor (Dracula) with three wives. The lengths to which Dracula goes to get the medallion, without actually taking it himself and thus activating the curse is this show’s plotline.

In his director’s notes, Eric R. Jensen said: “Honestly, I have not felt so optimistic about a show in a long time…it is really quite different from other parodies I have written in the past.” Yes it is and it showed in many ways. The writing was fresh, with different depths of humor than we have seen in past OBT shows. As a result, this is probably one of the best acted shows we’ve have seen at OBT. Eric R. Jensen is a fabulously funny Dracula, while Mina, the Mummy and the curator were “people” you could relate to, not just a delivery mechanism for a joke. The ensemble (Chase Dickerson, Shakai Reyna, Amelia Joan Bowles, Rickey Eric Larson, Aaron Bellis and Jason Unruh) played multiple characters with such aplomb that I was actually looking forward to seeing which historical characters would turn up next. The Abe-Miley rap that ended the first act was so side-splittingly funny that I could barely breathe when it was done.

drac obt4The stage design (Eric R. Jensen, Clint Lehmberg and Rob Reins) was extremely well done, especially the Upper Chamber of the Pyramid for Act 2. The statues that flanked the Mummy’s throne were exquisite. And look for the inventive way they use a black light. Genius. Costumes (Janice Jensen, Eric R. Jensen and Nola Camaliche) were fun and perfect for the tale. Sunny Bringhurst’s choreography, especially for the “Museum Battle” and “Walk Like An Egyptian” was fantastic.

There were a couple of opening night technical issues, not counting the lights flickering due to a nearby lightning strike. Mina’s mic did not work through most of the show. Ms.Reynolds made a valiant effort to project, but we still could barely hear her in the 4th row. I’m sure those sitting further back had an even harder time hearing her. And the music was often too loud and over-powering. I left the theater with my ears ringing ever so slightly from it.

All in all, my husband and I loved this show. We try to get to at least two shows a year at OBT because we do enjoy their work. After the rather difficult last two weeks we have had, we needed a laugh and Dracula vs. The Mummy delivered and then some.

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The Off Broadway Theater                                                                       272 South Main Street
Salt Lake City, Utah 84110

Dracula Vs. The Mummy

Sept 26 – Nov 1 Monday, Friday and Saturday 7:30 PM

$8.00 – $16.00


Facebook page: The Off Broadway Theater & Laughing Stock Improv

Take a Bite out of Desert Star’s Dracula

dsdrac1By Erin Orr

The Desert Star’s Dracula – He’s So Vain, written by Peter Van Slyke, tells the story of Count Dracula (Matt Kohler) and his looney victim/sidekick Renfield (J. Tyrus Williams) on a voyage to search for that which sustains life. Hilarity ensues as our red-blooded hero, Dr. Jonathan Seward (Ed Farnsworth) with the help of his wife Mina Seward (Jennifer Aguirre) and house staff Mr. Butterworth (Lee Daily) and Miss Wills (Marissa Poole) and fellow doctor Dr. Van Helsing (Matt O’Malley), attempt to fight the ominous powers of Dracula with the tried and true remedies for your everyday household vampires like garlic, wolfsbane, and stakes to save their friend, Miss Lucy (Krystal Kiene.)

The show starts out with Renfield walking up to Dracula’s castle looking for a place to stay. Kohler’s performance as Dracula was very punny (pun intended). He’s witty one-liners were well-received. Williams’ portrayal of Renfield never failed to make me laugh. He’s like a human cartoon. Farnsworth and Aguirre played the happily married couple of Dr. Jonathan and Mrs. Mina Seward. Farnsworth’s Dr. Seward was well done and he had great chemistry with Aguirre. Aguirre knows her way around the stage, and carried herself beautifully. She knows how to capture the attention of the audience. The house help, Miss Wills, was played delightfully by Marissa Poole. With her funny facial expressions and physical comedy, she quickly became a crowd favorite. Kiene as Lucy did a great job “giving up” her body to Dracula’s powers. Being bitten can certainly take a lot out of you. Daily’s Mr. Butterworth  and O’Malley’s Dr. Van Helsing round out the cast and showed off great vocals and both continued to shine in the Monster Mash Olios after Dracula is over.

Co-Directors Scott Holman and Mary Parker Williams kept their cast moving in a high energy, fast-paced show. The cast has great chemistry together. The costuming in this show, by Lynn Funk, was very authentic and time fitting. I have to give props to the techs of the show (Lighting: Eric Jensen, Stage Mangers: Collin Anderson and Brian Tolman) for adding the ambiance on the stage and perfectly timed cues.

This production of Dracula – He’s So Vain is a must see for the whole family. It will leave you smiling to the very end and get you into the Halloween holiday spirit.

dsdrac2 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, Sat @11:30 AM, 2:30, 6 & 8:30 PM

Ticket Prices: Adult: $18.95, Child: $10.95 (11 and Under)

Facebook Page: Desert Star Playhouse

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Springville Playhouse’s Steel Magnolias is the Ideal Ladies Night Out

By Larisa Hicken

steel-magnolias-springvilleSteel Magnolias, written by Robert Harling, is a charming story of six southern women who gather together in the local beauty shop to gossip and laugh. The story spans several years with each scene moving time forward several months.  The audience gets to laugh and cry along with these women as they support each other through personal heartaches and triumphs.

The story begins on the wedding day of Shelby, the youngest woman of the group. Shelby, played by Joni Newman, is a type 1 diabetic and has a hypoglycemic episode in the opening scene.  I have a son who has type 1 diabetes and Joni did a masterful job of portraying a person suffering from severe low blood sugar.

The ladies quickly handle the emergency situation and as the issue is resolving, we find out from Shelby’s mother M’Lynn, played by Robinne Dutson Booth, that Shelby’s doctor has told her she shouldn’t have children.  I enjoyed the relationship between Booth and Newman and felt like their mother-daughter character relationship was dynamic and interesting.  The final scene is where Booth really shines and I appreciated her polished and professional performance.

My favorite actress of the night was Kaye Fugal-Arnold who played the owner of the salon, Truvy.  Although she was reaching for her lines a bit in the beginning, she quickly found her pacing and had the most well-developed character and a great southern accent.  She even showed off her miming skills in the beginning where she established that the “invisible wall” that the audience is looking through is really a large mirror.  I was really impressed with how the cast members used the mirror to look at the “reflection” of each other which allowed us to see their expressions clearly.

The other stand-out performer of the night was Karen Davis who played the newest member of the group, Annelle.  Her hair alone is worth the price of the ticket!  Her character had a really quirky personality and her excellent comedic timing created a lot of laughs.  She also created an astonishing number of crazy hair styles throughout the show.

Vicki Wheeler plays Clairee and she did a really nice job showing her character’s evolution over the course of the show.  Although she occasionally seemed to forget a line, she quickly recovered and I really enjoyed her facial expressions and physical humor.

The grump of the group, Ouiser, was played by Arlene McGregor.  I felt like she created a refreshingly unique Ouiser and I enjoyed her antics.

Director Kathy Llewellyn obviously knows how to create an atmosphere where her artists can truly shine and the relationship between the actors was clearly a close one.  There were a few times during the second act where I felt like some of the action was lost in the back of the stage, but overall the blocking was nicely done and told a really nice story.

I have to give props to the prop master, Dawn Douglass.  There were truly an astonishing number of authentic 80s props on a spectacular set designed by Kathy Llewellyn and Mark Taggart.  I felt like I could step on up and get a manicure if I really wanted to.  The Christmas scene in act 1 was the only place where the props and set were actually a little distracting as the “business” of the scene was more captivating than the character interactions, but overall I loved the realistic setting.  The sound and lights, by Technical Director Greg Duffin, were virtually flawless.

If you’re looking for the perfect ladies night out, plan a trip to Merit Academy to see Springville Playhouse’s Steel Magnolias.  You’ll laugh and cry and find yourself with a strange desire to eat chocolate afterward.  This show is a great celebration of what it means to be a woman at every stage of life.

Steel Magnolias by Springville Playhouse
Showing from September 12th to October 6th on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays
Merit Academy in Springville
1440 West Center Street
Shows start at 7:30, tickets are $8 at the door.

Harvest Moon Hurrah Theater Company’s Arsenic and Old Lace Delivers Delightful Death

arsenicBy Mary Garlitz

Arsenic and Old Lace by Joseph Kesselring has long been one of my favorite shows. I remember seeing the movie as a kid and being pretty scared, but in today’s harsher world it is now more of a comedy and I felt that this cast did a great job with both aspects, frightening and funny, of this classic show. Co-directed by Anna Murdock and Cami Jensen, both long time theater veterans, the show has both humor and the macabre at the same time.

Arsenic and Old Lace is a black comedy farce about the nutty Brewster family, who, despite the proud beginnings (they were descended from the “Mayflower”), they now are basically insane, in different, funny and often creepy ways. Hero Mortimer Brewster (Kevin Keele) is a drama critic who struggles (naturally) with his mad, homicidal family and the Brooklyn police while he grapples deciding if he should actually marry Elaine (Kristal Thompson), whom he loves and has promised to wed. His family includes two spinster aunts (played by Kara Poulsen and Cami Jensen) who poison lonely old men with a glass of homemade elderberry wine laced with arsenic, strychnine, and “just a pinch” of cyanide; a brother (Rob Foussat) who believes he is Theodore Roosevelt and digs “locks” for the Panama Canal in the cellar of the Brewster home (which are then conveniently used as graves for the aunts’ victims); and a homicidal brother, Jonathon (Ken Jensen) who has received plastic surgery performed by an alcoholic accomplice, Dr. Einstein (Josh Keele) and ends up looking like Boris Karloff.

I attended this show with a friend of mine who is not normally a theater patron and she thoroughly enjoyed herself. We both felt the acting was strong and each actor delivered their lines in a clear manner and were easy to understand, something I usually have a hard time with when I attend shows that do not use a sound system.

Kara Poulsen and Cami Jensen were hilarious as the well-intentioned poisoning Brewster Aunts. I enjoyed Rob Foussat as Teddy, especially his authentic interpretation of Teddy Roosevelt. He was funny and consistent without being over the top. Kevin Keele’s portrayal of the put-upon Mortimer was great, and he and Kristal Thompson’s Elaine had great chemistry. Ken Jensen did a nice job maintaining the crazy aspects of Jonathan Brewster. I have to admit, I felt he was a little over the top at first and came off a little Frankenstein-ish, but after he settled down into the role, I felt he was fantastic and scary without being goofy. Josh Keele’s portrayal of the creepy little Dr. Einstein was particularly good and his German accent was spot on and consistent. I never felt that he dropped it at all and I was a bit surprised when meeting him after the show that he was a mild-mannered normal American.

Other supporting roles were played equally as well including: Judd Messenger as the sweet Reverend Harper; Steve Whitehead, Jacob Keele, and Nick Christensen were great as the semi-bumbling police force; and Seth Hansen’s lieutenant Rooney was spot on with his Brooklyn accent and tough cop attitude. I should mention the Irish accents used by two of the police were excellent as well. Special mention should be made of Juan Nuila and Rachael Jensen, but I can’t tell you why or it would ruin the surprise, but they were delightful.

The set design by Cami Jensen, with painting by Kayli Champneys, was beautiful and I felt that they did a fine job recreating a 1940’s New York home. Assisted by Matt Moleff and Steve Whitehead in the construction, they utilized the different levels already built into the stage really well. I especially enjoyed the wall treatment with the gold painting–it is this attention to detail that made the staging really come alive. Richard Lindsey, as always, does a fantastic job with all of the technical aspects of the show and I really liked his use of light to show the different time of day as the show progressed.

My friend and I both really loved the costumes especially the choices for Elaine and the two Aunties. We felt that Anna Murdock really did a great job in bring all of the characters’ to life through the costume and the age makeup.

Overall, I would say they did a great job with this classic show. My only caveat would be the pacing and I am sure they will do better as the run progresses. I was really proud of the way the cast handled one little stumble. In the first few minutes, one of the set pieces (a small table) actually broke apart, but they handled it professionally and just moved right along as if that was supposed to happen instead of ignoring it. Cami actually worked it into her fussbudget character by folding the little tablecloth that was on top as she scurried around tidying up. Well done!

Please go attend this show, running as part of the Harvest Moon Hurrah in Spanish Fork. You will not be disappointed and it will be a great family activity to get you in the mood for fall and Halloween.

Shows are Sept 19, 22, 26, 27, 29, and Oct 3 and 6 starting at 7:00 PM

Little Theater in Spanish Fork High School, 99 N 300 W, Spanish Fork, Utah 84660

Tickets $8 general admission, $5 for children under 12 and seniors, $30 family pass. Group rates available upon request.

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Galileo is Brilliant and Shouldn’t Be Missed


By Jennifer Mustoe, Craig Mustoe and Sophie Determan

Every once in a while, I go to a performance that is so amazing, it is beyond description. However, I am a reviewer and want to share what I’ve seen, so I will do my best to describe Galileo, written by Bertolt Brecht and directed by Davey Morrison Dillard. Because I don’t want to make this review so long you’ll skim through it, I am going to write the most concise I can be. It will not be enough.

Here’s what I can tell you: Dillard gathered many acting devices for this multi-layered performance–more than I’ve ever seen in one production. The beginning and the end had all cast members holding hands, facing toward the audience and singing in harmony, while Galileo stood in the middle, a piece of chalk in his hand, making markings on the round, slightly elevated stage in the middle of the room. It is a small-ish room above the Castle Theater in Provo. More about the space later, written by Sophie.

From the moment Barrett Ogden as Galileo begins his scribbling, the audience is engaged. Ogden is a force of nature, as Galileo is shown to be. I admit, I knew little to nothing about Galileo except the barest inkling. And this play is not completely historically correct. But the essence of the inventor/mathematician is encapsulated in the Brecht work and in Ogden himself. What impressed me and my husband Craig most was the energy Ogden had, showing the passion of younger Galileo. But as he aged, Ogden was able to show Galileo as old, blinding and fragile in an equally believable manner.

The rest of the cast plays many parts and the use of costume pieces and masks keeps the characters distinct. I am going to list all the actors in the show, as there aren’t that many. However, I make mention particularly of Shawn Saunders, who plays a young boy, Andrea, (as well as smaller roles:Scholar, Secretary) who is tutored by Galileo and becomes his compatriot to the mathematian when he’s older. Again, Saunders ages very believably as well as conveys the wonder that young Andrea has, and his anger and disappointment with Galileo later in life.

Each actor has the dexterity to play old and young, often male and female, small parts and principals. Emily Dabczynski plays Virginia, Galileo’s daughter with a delightful starry-eyed youthfulness, Elderly Lady, Christopher Clavius, and Singer’s Wife. Andy Hansen plays Ludovico, and his passion as this character is palpable. He also plays Lord Chamberlain, Monk, Town Crier, Customs Officer. Alex Ungerman as Federzoni is great. And as his other lesser characters, he truly shows his chops as a brilliant actor: Curator, Old Cardinal, Inquisitor. Jessamyn Svensson as Mrs. Sarti, Cardinal Barberini, Monk, and Child was a favorite of Sophie’s and of mine. Addison Radle as Sagredo, Cardinal Bellarmin, Prelate, Philosopher, and Official has much of the “fun” in this play, as Radle is a wonderful actor with the ability to make us smile with his amazing physical comedy and presence. Noah Kershisnik (singing and playing his guitar in many scenes) plays Singer, Informer Mathematician, Senator, Monk, Secretary, Servant. Jamie McKinney (Little Monk; Prince Cosimo de Medici, Clerk) and Jessica Myer (Mattie, Boy, Young Lady, Scholar, Peasant) round out the amazing cast.

It would be hard to explain this show (which is why I insist you go see it) but Dillard employed so many devices, I need to highlight some:
• For scene changes, he projects a poem on the wall that shows what the scene will contain. One actor comes out and either sings, acts out, or says the poem. One fun transition had two actors doing this poem as a patty-cake.
• Music was implemented throughout and added layers to what could be a rather dry production.
• Many of the actors broke the fourth wall and it seemed very natural and not forced. And not threatening.
• We are told this entire production was pulled together in three weeks, only fourteen rehearsals. This is almost unbelievable, considering the quality of the work.

After the show, I told Dillard that I felt I had been to a feast and it would take me a while to absorb all that I saw. And there is really no way for me to describe what I can only call a theatrical experience.

My only criticism about Galileo is this: it seemed to me that the script could have been cut a bit as there were many monologues that said the same thing throughout the production. The first act was very long. And to go along with that, the chairs are very hard and I got very squirmy by the end of Act One.

From Sophie: One of the strongest aspects of the performance was their use of the space. Theater in the round is always tricky to pull off, and not only did they use every ounce of the interior space to create everything from the Pope’s court to a peasant’s hut, they also played with open windows, multiple doors, and whole off-stage conversations. The all-immersive nature of the set – particularly the period-accurate candle lighting and cozy knickknacks – made the audience feel like they were truly in someone’s home. For me, this heightened my interest in the characters since I also felt part of their world.

The grotesque Venetian masks were one of the cleverest visual elements in the play. Not only did they allow a company of 10 to portray around 40 distinguishable characters, but they created such a marvelously dark atmosphere that even a scribe silently taking notes looked menacing. The costumes themselves ranged from neutral head-to-toe blacks all the way to glittering masquerade cloaks, yet all seemed to blend together into a neat whole due to the strong character choices of the actors. A paper crown or a monk’s robe would create a completely new person on stage.

The cast was remarkably smooth with the overall execution of the story (especially when factoring in the Chinese fire drill-like costume and set changes), and the use of live music to tie the scenes together formed a pleasant balance with the long scenes of dialogue. Occasionally, though, I felt that the cast let their energy run away with them to the point that whole lines were lost, particularly during the tambourine dance scene. But when the energy finally came back down to manageable levels, the silences were tense enough for the audience to hear the crickets outside.

This was a beautiful show that harnessed all the quirky and challenging aspects of its performance space to tell a meaningful story about taking risks and realizing limits. I would recommend it to anyone interested in how some DI atlases and pieces of chalk can re-create the spirit of scientific discovery.

To sum up, this really is a show that shouldn’t be missed, but because of its length and because it is a drama (though there is no profanity or material that would be offensive) I’d suggest teens and older would enjoy this show most. I will say, if I were a high school drama teacher, I’d force my students to go to this show. They would learn a lot.

Because Galileo has such a short run and the space is limited, I would suggest you plan to see it now and buy your tickets online now, if possible. This really is a once in a lifetime opportunity and you shouldn’t miss it. Also, the theater is a little hard to find, so just keep driving up toward the hospital and follow the signs.

GALILEO by Bertolt Brecht
directed by Davey Morrison Dillard

The Castle Amphitheater, 1300 E. Center St., Provo, UT, 84601

Opens September 19th, Closes September 27th.
Fridays, Saturdays, and Mondays, 7:30pm.

General Admission: $10
Tickets available online at


Blue Stockings at the Babcock Theater is Colored with Intensity and Entertainment

blue1By Lorrinda Christensen

Cambridge, 1896, and Girton College, home to the country’s first female students, is an object of annoyance and derision to the rest of the university. The year’s intake of new women face economic difficulty, the distractions of men, radical politics, and the jaw-dropping prejudice that blights their being in Cambridge—that fine old establishment FOR MEN ONLY. At a time when women pursuing an education was thought of as unacceptable, “Bluestockings” became a pejorative term used to describe these women and the educational movement. The story follows a group of young women trying to gain the right to graduate from college.

Playwright Jessica Swale said, “I began researching the play just before Pakastani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai was shot for standing up for her right to an education. When I started researching the history of women’s education for my play, I quickly found myself knee-deep in records of incidents which I had to read twice to believe. If women were allowed into lectures (they had to buy tickets and were sometimes refused entry at the door), the men often took pleasure in kicking their chairs and pelting them with paper bullets. Ladies had to carry chamber pots, as universities refused to build toilet facilities for them. They even found themselves relegated to eat lunch surrounded by cadavers in the biology lab, banned from the dining room for fear that they might distract the men.

Though the girls studied the same degree courses as the men and matched them grade for grade, when the gents donned their gowns for degree day, the women were left with nothing but a tarnished reputation to show for their troubles. They were simply denied the right to graduate. In 1897, the girls of Girton rallied together to ask the university for the right to be formally recognized for their achievements. They made it their mission to convince the Senate to instigate a vote. Little did they know, though, just how far the opposition would go to stop them.” (Swale, 2013)

The young women, Tess (Kate Miksell), Maeve (Heather Grogan), Celia (September McKinnon) and Carolyn (Taylor Kirch) are studying science and all excel in academics to the point that they surpass most of the men. The girls fight for their education with the support of Mr. Banks (Taylor Smith), and Mrs. Welsh (Catherine Ostler Bearden) who play their roles with heart and passion.

blue2The young men, Edwards (Cody Thompson), Lloyd (Michael Johnson), Holmes (Christian Maestas), and Will (Mike Brown) torment the girls in class and put down their decision to pursue an education, telling them that no man will ever want them.
Tess meets a young man, Ralph (Steven Jones), at the library who is not intimidated by her intelligence, and with the help of the other girls she manages to sneak out and meet him in an orchard a few times, much to the dismay of Will, who has told Tess’s father that he will keep an eye on her.

Many of the cast members play multiple roles in the show. Cody Thompson does an amazing job transitioning between Dr. Maudsley, a British psychiatrist, and Edwards, a thumb-sucking college student who seemed intimidated by women. One of the most touching moments of the play was a scene with Maeve and her brother Billy (Michael Johnson) as he pleads for her to return home following the death of their mother. I was nearly in tears as he begged his sister to come home to help take care of their younger siblings.

The play left me feeling an array of emotions. It was funny, had many touching moments, and was very thought provoking. I’d like to give particular mention to Taylor Kirch, who kept me laughing with her crazy antics and wit. Though director James Bonas had to leave while still in rehearsal, he clearly did his job. The show is luminous.

The production team did a top notch job. The costume design by Brenda Van Der Weil was fabulous. She definitely did her research to make sure that everything fit into that time period and remained consistent between characters. All of the women’s costumes were stunning.

The set, lighting and projection designs were incredible. Jessica Dudley (set), Jesse Portillo (lights) and Joseph Wallace (projection) did an amazing job of working together to create the setting for the show. I loved the use of curtains and screens along with the projections to create the scenery and transitions between each scene during scene changes. I was delighted with how the scene could change from a classroom to a library to a starry night to a city skyline just with the use of a projector. Great job to all involved in bringing such an inspiring story to the U of U stage.

I highly recommend that anyone who has the chance to see this show, do yourself a favor and go. But get your tickets early as opening night was nearly sold out–the rest of the run is sure to be as well. For those who are unfamiliar with the University of Utah and don’t know where the Babcock Theatre is located, it is downstairs in the Pioneer Theatre building.

The cast will have two talkback sessions following their performances Friday, September 26, and Saturday, September 27. These talkbacks should be particularly informative and entertaining.
The show runs through Sunday, September 28 with the following performance schedule:
September 20-21, 25, 26 7:30 PM
September 27-28 2:00 PM & 7:30 PM

Tickets are available at Kingsbury Hall or at the door.

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Works Cited
Swale, J. (2013, August). College girls go wild: Jessica Swale on her new Globe play Blue Stockings. Retrieved from London Evening Examiner:


CenterPoint’s Complete Works is Completely Wonderful

complete works1By Erin Orr

Three guys, one playwright, and 37 plays, all in under two hours. That’s what’s happening at the CenterPoint LegacyTheater in Centerville. These three actors manage to compress the complete works of Shakespeare into about an hour and 40 minutes of high-speed over-the-top hilarity. Knowledge about Shakespeare’s works when seeing this play comedy is helpful, but not at all necessary. All that is needed is time enough to watch and someone to dial 911 in case you pass out from laughing so much. The show begins with Romeo and Juliet, followed by Titus Andronicus, then Othello. Next a hilarious summarizing of the histories, then the comedies. And that’s only Act 1. Act 2 focuses on Hamlet, with some audience participation and a sped up version of the play.

Michael Gardner, Douglas Caldwell and Rusty Bringhurst perform in this fast-paced, never a dull moment, breaking the fourth wall production as themselves educating to us (the audience) about the Bard’s written works in a way that both adults and children will enjoy. They all give their one-hundred percent to their performances and never showed signs of slowing. And when the time came, they all have a knack of making the hall roar with laughter. Collectively, their comedic timing is flawless.

Caldwell sets the tone of the show by connecting with the audience and making a few “announcements.” He seems to find himself alone on stage, stalling, quite a few times. One of his stalling tactics was a comedic magic show. Another, he receives a phone call from fellow actor Gardner about Bringhurst, who ran out of the theater at the end of Act 1, and proceeds to tell the audience about Shakespeare’s Sonnets.

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Gardner is amusing as he takes on 13 of the Bard’s characters, including the honor of playing Hamlet in the second act. His high-strung persona has a bit of a breakdown in the second act, but it’s understandable, the audience is told, because, “He’s been through a lot.”

Bringhurst does not shy away from the physical comedy. Nor is he shy abut showing his feminine side, as he is stuck with all the female roles, garbed in a dress. He delivers his off-the-wall comedy and constant upchuck pantomime with grace, and quickly becomes an audience favorite.

You can tell that director Josh Richardson had a lot of fun putting together this show and its cast of crazies. “It is my humble hope that you have at least half as much fun as we’ve had putting this together,” he states in his Director’s Notes. Whether or not you have seen a single play of William Shakespeare’s, you will leave the theater with a smile on your face and maybe appreciate the playwright even more. This is a must see!

Editor’s Note: Every production of this is different as it states in the directions to be creative. (Thus, the magic show at the beginning, for instance.) So, even if you’ve seen this show before, be sure that this one will have many fun, fresh bits and you’ll enjoy it–a lot!

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)

Centerpoint Legacy Theatre, Leishman Performance Hall

525 North 400 West, Centerville, UT 84014

Phone: 801-298-1302

Show Runs: 9/19 – 10/11 @ 7 pm

Ticket pricing: $15

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Steel Magnolias is Southern Hospitality in West Jordan

steel_magnolias_now_playing_utah_categoryBy Lorrinda Christensen

When someone mentions Steel Magnolias, my mind instantly travels back to the 1989 movie with Julia Roberts, Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Daryl Hannah, Olympia Dukakis and the red velvet armadillo cake. What most people don’t know is that before it was a movie, it was a play. Premiering in 1987, Steel Magnolias is about a group of Southern women in northwest Louisiana. The play, written by Robert Harling, is based on his experience with his sister’s death. Harling, wanting the audience to experience the ups and downs of his family’s experience, included humor and light-heartedness along with more serious moments.

The cast of Sugarhouse Factory Playhouse & West Jordan Theater Arts production of Steel Magnolias did an amazing job bringing this story to life. The play, set in the 80’s, takes place in a hair salon in Louisiana. Due to the size of Pioneer Hall, the building where the play was performed, I felt like I was sitting in the hair salon right along with the members of the cast. The set design included salon chairs, a hair washing sink and a manicure table, and had so much attention to detail – right down to the magazines with issues that were printed in the 80’s.

The performance of the cast made me feel like I was just another one of the girls sitting in the salon participating in their conversations. They had me laughing much of the time, though I found myself close to tears, as well, in the more poignant scenes. The transition between the funny moments and the serious ones was done very well.

JoAnn Galloway, who played Ouiser, had the audience laughing hysterically every time she walked onto the stage. Her comedic timing, along with that of other cast members, made the show fun to watch while dealing with the more serious topics of diabetes, kidney failure and death. Agnes Broberg, who played Clairee, was also hilarious and had me laughing the entire show. The cast seemed like they all got along really well and worked together as one unit, versus a group of six individuals. If I didn’t know any better, I would have believed that I was back in the South sitting in that salon with the rest of them. There was never a moment that I wasn’t fully engaged in the show.

Denise Gull, in her director’s notes, mentioned that this show inspired her to donate one of her kidneys. She says, “When directing, I always look for a show that has heart and soul. This one has more than its fair share, along with a healthy dose of humor and inspiration.” She goes on to tell the story of how she became a donor, and was able to donate one of her kidneys to a wonderful stranger. In fact, the topic of kidney donation is so dear to her, that while at the show there is an opportunity to donate to the National Kidney Foundation, and get information about other organ donation organizations.

Steel Magnolias has one more performance left: Sept 20 7:30 pm at Pioneer Hall, 1137 W 7800 S, in West Jordan. Tickets are $8 at the door.

Presented by Sugar Factory Playhouse and West Jordan Arts Council at West Jordan Pioneer Hall

The Grand’s Forever Plaid is Forever Grand


By Dallon Thorup

Forever Plaid takes us on a time travel journey back to this sweeter, simpler life. These four guys are true believers: in music, in dreams, and in being a “Plaid.” Their world is filled with iconic images: Perry Como, after school jobs, Ed Sullivan, Latin rhythms, high school dances, and sing-alongs. They always strive to do their best because they think that’s how the rest of the world functions, too. And they also see the glass half full…of chocolate milk.”

Director Jim Christian says in his Director’s notes:
The thing I love about theatre is that it is a gamble. Whether you are seeing a show on a Broadway stage, Community stage, Semi-professional stage, or at a High School you never know what you are in for. Is this going to be good? Is this going to drag? Will I love it? Will I hate it? These thoughts always go through my head before I see a show.
Forever Plaid is a simple show to explain. THE PLAIDS have been given a shot to perform their show that they died heading to many years ago. You, as the audience member, are lucky enough to be the crowd they finally have the privilege of seeing their show they never go to perform.

The Grand Theatre in Salt Lake City at the Salt Lake Community College off of State Street and 1700 South was home to this amazing concert that I saw last night. Backstage at The Grand is what they called it. You, the audience, get to walk backstage as you enter the theatre and you sit in bleacher style seating (however they were extremely comfortable movie theatre style chairs) on the stage. You see everything onstage and offstage and it is truly a fun experience. The backdrop on the stage was beautiful and before the show even had begun, my roommate and I were feeling the energy of what was about to happen.

Let me introduce you to “The Plaids”
Sparky, portrayed by Jonathan Baker, was what I would call the lovable Plaid. He had a presence about him that was charming to watch and fun for the group to feed off of. His ability to show his joy singing the songs really drew me in as an audience member and made me believe that I was watching Sparky from The Plaids and not an actor on stage.
Jinx, portrayed by Nick Morris, had comedic timing that I found to be refreshingly genius and a voice that made me melt like butter. Particularly during “Cry” (one of the best numbers in the show) I was absolutely blown away by Jinx’s voice. Once again, I didn’t feel as if I was watching an actor.

Smudge, portrayed by B.J. Whimpley, had that bass voice that women swoon over. “Sixeen Tons/Chain Gang” not only gave me goosebumps like I’ve never had before, but those harmonies were to die for. Smudge finished that particular number with a booming amount of force, both in volume and precision and for that I could not have been happier.

Last but not least Frankie, portrayed by Mark Daniels, stole the show for me in one instant that actually brought a couple tears to my eye. In a show that is more of an amazing concert put on by this wonderful group of men, I did not expect to be blown away by a speech. I first must mention that Frankie is what I would call the poster child for The Plaids. If I would have been around in the 60’s and they were big, I’d expect to see Frankie’s face everywhere. He had something golden about him onstage throughout the entire performance that did not falter once in the show. His voice was spot on. His ability to bring camaraderie was astounding, and it really benefited everyone.


The production team, everyone on it, needs a huge round of applause because I personally have not ever been so thoroughly entertained for a solid 90 minutes. Not once did I lose focus, not once did I wonder what time it was, not once did I wish that something was done differently, and quite frankly, I believe the audience may have felt the same way. My roommate and I couldn’t stop dancing in our seats and feeling the fun of the performance. Being able to feed off of the energy of the people on the stage was such a refreshing feeling, and I know it’s one that I truly love. So thank you Plaids for providing that energy.

All in all, I was truly sad when this show ended and we exited the theatre. I heard a few people say, “We need to see this again,” also “I wish it kept going.” My roommate even said, “I need to bring my girlfriend to see this. Luckily I have two more weeks.” I even said, “I need to take my family to this.” There is a buzz with this show, and it is all positive from what I’ve heard so far. Let this review be my second standing ovation for you, gentleman. You haven taken one of my all-time favorite shows and let me see it in a way I’ve never seen before. I didn’t see a show, I saw a concert put on by The Plaids and I’m honored they were brought back for one more night with us.

If you have the opportunity to see this show, don’t hesitate. It can not be missed.

The Grand Theatre
1575 South State St. Salt Lake City, UT 84115

Show runs September 11-27th @ 7:30 PM
Matinee shows on Sept. 13, 20, and 27 @ 2:00 PM

Tickets $14-$20
Purchase tickets online at, at the door, or call the box office at 801-957-3322

Love, Forgiveness and Strength Reign in Wasatch Theatre’s The Color Purple


By Michael Nielsen

Paraphrasing a line delivered by the main character, Celie, “If God listened to a poor, black woman, the world would be a different place”. And watching this intriguing and touching show about a poor, black woman WILL change you. This production has so many shining and poignant moments, but is definitely driven by the tremendous characterization of Celie, portrayed by Latoya Rhodes. From her beginnings as a 14-year-old pregnant and abused girl, through forced marriage and many, many hard times, Rhodes’ body language and exquisite turn of phrase keep the audience completely involved and wanting to know what happens to her next (over a 40-year period.) We hope that she finds the strength to love and be loved.

The cast is full of talented and hardworking actors, most portraying more than one character and doing justice to them all. Never did I see anyone on stage drop character or not be completely involved in the scene. There is so much that happens, I am hesitant to try and explain the plot or the many twists and turns. Just know that this cast and production team have put together a show that will keep you watching and waiting for the next emotional interaction, whether between fellow church goers, father and daughters, husbands and wives or the patrons of the Honkey Tonk. Special note should be given to Terry Lee Hicks, playing Harpo, who transforms from arrogant young man to loving husband and friend. Erika Richardson as Sophia brings humor and strength to a story where the women are treated as second-rate humans and as property, eliciting great response from the audience. Shug, played enticingly by Malinda Money, shows how a woman can be sexy and strong but still with her own vulnerabilities. My only regret with Ms. Money was that her voice wasn’t quite strong enough in the lower ranges to soar over the crows in the Honkey Tonk scene (the ONE time I felt a microphone could be utilized). The scenes between Shug and Celie helped both characters grow while endearing them to us without being cloying or superficial. In all, the casting was excellent, with no truly weak performances. If time allowed I could praise them all, since each had at least one brilliant moment and never a bad one.

Technically, the show was very well produced and executed. Director/choreographer William Cooper Howell (along with assistant director/choreographer Stewart Fullerton) did an amazing job of taking a difficult performance space and a potentially intimidating large production, making it personal and intimate with just the right amount of “big” musical numbers. With a three-quarter audience and no backstage or even stage entrances, the action flowed smoothly and seamlessly, which is no small feat for a show that spans some forty years and many fluid relationships. One of my favorite directing moments comes near the end. Not wanting to spoil the show, I will only tell you that Howell allowed honest and real timing when lost relatives reunite. Avoiding the directorial instinct to “keep the action moving,” the embraces were almost uncomfortably long, yet that made them all the more real and emotional. Many moments were given the time needed, but never did I feel time or action was wasted or important lines thrown away. The movement, staging and African dancing were always fun to watch, enticing and perfectly appropriate for the story and the space.

Kit Anderson (set design) and Ann Davis (props) kept the feel very minimal, but functional and relevant. The simple set of one wall with wooden chairs hanging haphazardly (which were taken down and replaced as needed by the actors) gave color and texture without having to “set” any scenes. Lighting Design (Danny Dunn) helped a relatively bare set serve many locations and periods without announcing where they were (also complemented by the staging.) And, though they are a rarely seen aspect of a production, it was obvious that the Stage Manager (Kris Bushman) and Assistant Stage Manager (Nikki Brown) kept the flow running through the rehearsals and the run of the show–NOT an easy task when dealing with theatre personalities! Linda Eyring’s Costume Design was also simple but effective. Ms. Eyring resisted the temptation to constantly change entire outfits as the years passed, and the clothes had the patina of wear and tear that was so crucial to the characters’ lives. One could easily forgive the occasional wrong length of skirt or style of lapel for a certain time period, knowing that it was preferable to waiting for costume changes and sacrificing the action.

Overall, the musical performances were spot on, and filled with the emotion and feeling needed in the often Gospel style music. There were times when parts of the many a capella solos and numbers drifted a bit from pitch and key, but the messages still shone through. Being close to the action, I think I was able to hear most each member singing at some point, and each had strong, resonant vocals which were obviously well coached. I do wish that I could have understood a few more of the lyrics, but I wonder if that was more the style of the music than the actual enunciation of the words. It certainly wasn’t enough to distract of negate the performances! Again, I won’t go in to the details of the story–most probably know it from the movie. Suffice it to say that you WILL laugh, cry, hurt, yearn and love as you watch this poor black woman make her way through life.

The Color Purple

Wasatch Theatre Company

Studio Theatre at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center (138 West 300 South), SLC

Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays through September 27th at 8:00 PM. There are also 2:00 PM Saturday matinees on September 20th and 27th. Tickets are $15.00 and can be purchased at or by calling