Seek Out the Scarlet Pimpernel at the Springville Playhouse!

By Megan Graves

In a modern media world that repeatedly portrays dramatic rescues, rebellion, spies, and government intrigues, the story of the Scarlet Pimpernel has all that and more, presented in a unique way on the stage that brings you closer to the sword fights, suspense and drama then you could get just on any dimmed, elusive screen. Though I had practically memorized the soundtrack to the Scarlet Pimpernel musical a few years ago, I had still postponed seeing the show because I thought I knew the story so well after having read the book and watched the movie a few times. However, I was pleasantly surprised by unique, new, characters, a stellar presentation done by cast and crew, as well as a different ending than either the book or the movie. It is worth it to see the musical even if you already know the story, and Springville Playhouse does a stellar job at their depiction of war-torn France and the unlikely heroes who saved innocent people from Madam Guillotine and the mob mentality of the French Revolution.

The cast had excellent costumes.

The cast had great depth of vocal and acting talent, and excellent costumes to boot.

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Man of La Mancha is a Lovely Message in a Lovely Musical

By Michael Todd

Man of La Mancha, a play with in a play, is about a man Cervantes who tells a story about a “mad” knight Don Quixote who set out to find adventures with his squire, Sancho Panza. Man of La Mancha is written by Dale Wasserman lyrics by Joe Darien and music by Mitch Leigh, based off the book Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes.

The set designed by Terry McGovern was breathtaking, though a little too clean. I wanted it scruffier and more like a dungeon. But there wasn’t a part of the set that didn’t match. The drawbridge stairs to get into and out of the dungeon was pure genius.

The director, Carol LaForge and assistant director Terry McGovern, did an amazing job—though there  were moments of different actors upstaging one another. But overall, each scene was blocked well and I stayed focused on the important parts of the play and keep the distractions at bay.

Choreographers Pamela Giles and Sarah Wilson chose playful simple dances and this worked well, but I would have liked to see a little more movement.

Costumes, hair and make-up by JoAnn Gebs, Katie Fowler, were very true to the time period.  Vocal Direction by Cassidy Ellenberger was clear and excellent—her singers sounded marvelous. All the actors not only sounded great, they remained in character. The orchestra was played beautifully directed by Marilyn Syra. However, I wish they’d been a little louder but that could be the acoustics of the auditorium and where I was sitting.

Don Quixote Cervantes played by Rand Johnson gave a breathtaking performance. Just as the song says, “To Reach the unreachable, the unreachable, the unreachable star and I’ll always dream the impossible, the impossible dream yes, and I’ll reach the unreachable star.” Johnson truly had star quality in this production.

Sancho Panza played by Randy Turnbull, had a great character and lightened up the stage when he was onstage. Aldonza/Dulcinea played by Kathryn Hawley was a powerhouse on stage, I enjoyed seeing her character evolve from the kitchen serving girl born in the dirt and cater to scum to the Lady Dulcinea, helping a madman see the effect he had on the world and your character. You beautifully expressed each emotion from anger and hatred to curiosity and then to love and desire.  Other notable players were Nick Ellsworth who played the Governor/Innkeeper. I enjoyed how contrasting his two characters were. Anselmo played by Eli Unruh has the beautiful solo in Little Bird. Tony Ellenberger as Pedro—he plays a mean and nasty character very well. An honorable mention to Padre played by Colton Fowler—he had me fooled into thinking he was an actual clergy man. Truly, if it wasn’t for everyone cast in this show, it would have fallen flat, for each actor and actress on the stage made the production shine.

I was very touched by Man of La Mancha and highly recommend this show.

The production runs nightly June 15th to June 25th, except Sunday, at Tooele High School Auditorium. The show starts at 7:00 pm. Tickets are  $10 for adults (12+), $7 for senior (65+). Make sure you grab your snacks and bathroom breaks before the show for there is no intermission, the show is about 2 hours running time

The Ziegfeld’s Rock of Ages is 80’s-Filled Fun

rock of ages

By Cindy Whitehair

We took a journey back in time, to Ogden Utah circa 1985 to see the Utah premier of Rock of Ages at the Ziegfield Theater.  If you think you know the plot for this show based on the movie starring Catherine Zeta Jones, Tom Cruise and Russel Brand, think again.

The first thing you encounter as you enter the theater is a gritty looking, multi-level (multi-function set) that is designed to be your backdrop for the seedy Bourbon Club on the Sunset Strip of the mid ’80s.  Designed by Erica Choffel, it really worked well for the Zieg space and helped facilitate the nonstop action that took place throughout the show.  It was also great camouflage for the speakers that were needed for the live rock band that was playing throughout the preshow, show and most of the intermission.

The band, aka The Arsenal, consisted of Rick Rea (keyboard), Jacob Lambros (guitar), Matt Conlin (bass), Cameron Kapetanov (drums) and Lindsay Kapetanov (cowbell) was superb.  When you can go effortlessly through Ozzy (Crazy Train), Blue Oyster Cult (Don’t Fear the Reaper) and Guns & Roses (Paradise City)–well, you got this ’80s gal hooked.

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If you lived during the ’80s, then you know without a doubt that Costumer Alina Gatrell nailed the costumes.  There was lots of mesh, funky, clunky heels, bright colors and concert t’s that were the staple of any ’80’s child’s wardrobe.  The hair was *B*I*G* thanks to Wig and Makeup designer Dee Tur’one and oh my, that blue eyeshadow!

The cast did a great job conveying the fun of this show.  A couple of shout-outs though to JJ Bateman (Lonny), Natalie Nichols (Sherri), Jake T. Holt (Drew), Brent Jorgensen (Hertz) and Derek Gregorson (Stacee Jaxx/Father).  Each had their stand out moments during the show but it was Bateman’s Lonny that was the chronic scene stealer as the show’s narrator. His duet (I Can’t Stop This Feeling Anymore) with Daniel Akin (Dennis) was very sweetly, lightly, and humorously played.

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But the biggest shout-out simply has to go to the ensemble.  They were sharp, they were synchronized–there was no hiding.  They were leaping off of platforms, hanging from the pole dancing poles, running up and down stairs, and just making choreographer Heidi Potter Hunt’s bold choreography look amazing.  We had more fun just watching them dance!

The only real problem that we had with last night’s show was the sound.  There were times when the actors were drowned out by the band, either due to bad mixing or mics not working.  It was usually caught and corrected, but it did make for uneven sound quality in a show that demands outstanding sound quality.

rock2All in all, director Trent Cox did an outstanding job keeping this herd of cats going in the same direction.  This show is frantic and frenetic and it takes a director with vision and finesse to keep it contained but still right on the edge.

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If you love ’80s music, then Rock of Ages is the show for you.  One word of caution though, while significantly toned down from the movie, this play does carry a mild “R” rating.  There was implied drinking and drug use, a lot of bumping and grinding in the dancing, and implied sexual situations and more than a little swearing.  If any of that offends you, you are probably better off skipping this one.

However for us, it was well worth our time to make the 45-minute drive to Ogden for this show.  If you get the chance to see it before it heads up to the Egyptian in Park City, go.  You won’t regret it.

Rock of Ages presented by the Ziegfield Theatre Company.  Tickets are $20.00 and are available at the door or at their website www.zigarts.com http://www.theziegfeldtheater.com/

Ziegfield Theatre Company, 3934 Washington Blvd (Hwy 89), Ogden Ut 84403

Remaining Performances: June 17, 18, 24th 7:30 PM, June 25th 7:30pm with a 2 PM matinee on June 25th

Pinnacle’s Titus Adronicus is a Wonderful, Intense Take on this Shakespeare Tragedy

titus

By Perry S. Whitehair

On Thursday, I had the pleasure to see my first show at Pinnacle Acting Company. Pinnacle Acting Company chooses to produce classic and contemporary classic works of theatre. So upon hearing that they chose to re-envision William Shakespeare’s classic tragedy Titus Andronicus, I knew that I must take advantage of this.

The show was set in an all-women’s penitentiary in an intimate style black box with only a platform on house right and chalkboard just upstage of center. Fun fact, if you are seated in the front row there is a crowd scene where the actors encourage you to interact with them, breaking the fourth wall. The adaptation and the setting really worked out well for the director L.L West as they made great use of all of the set pieces, which helped the audience understand what happened and when we changed locations in the play.

The story follows Titus who comes home from war with prisoners in tow. Tamora, Queen of the Goths pleads to Titus to spare her son from sacrificing him for the bloodshed that occurred in the wars away from Rome. Titus refuses and thus kills Tamora’s son and leads Tamora to plot her revenge on Titus and his family for the pain that he caused her. We see the systematic and thorough plotting of Tamora nearly bring Titus to insanity. Romans are nervous of getting in between these forces and what they want. Don’t miss the twists and turns that occur that nearly bring Titus to his knees in agony.

To compliment one single actress in the cast would be foolish as the ensemble of Goths, Romans, and even the security guards really contributed to the action that took place on stage. No one ever pulled focus from where the attention needed to be in the moment of the play. That being said, I was especially impressed with the amazing work and acting choices of April Fossen (playing Titus), Anne Louise (Lavinia), and Melanie Nelson (Tamora. Each of these ladies had me connect with their characters stories and either empathize with them (Fossen and Louise) or often makes you love their anti-hero character schemes in the case of (Nelson). To bring all of these characters into the same believable world was pure joy, to which I give the utmost credit to the director for doing what often can be forgotten when creating a show. They highlighted the comedic moments in an otherwise very dark Shakespearean tragedy.

Sets and lighting were nothing to gawk at as they are located in an educational black box space but both served the purpose of the actors and the play effortlessly. This show is not meant for faint hearts as many deaths and other horrendous subject matter occurs on and off-stage but if you have the means and time to see this show, don’t walk but run to it. Find time to see a different take on a classic piece of theatre history from Shakespeare and his time.

Titus Andronicus

Pinnacle Acting Company,  1250 E 1700 S, Salt Lake City, UT

Ticket inquiries: 801-810-5793

www.pinnacleactingcompany.org

Ticket prices: $18 adults, $15 seniors and students (with valid ID), $15 matinee, Groups of 10 or more $13. (Call ahead to reserve).