“Utahoma” at Off Broadway Theatre in Salt Lake City Should Draw Audiences from Pioneer and Pio-far

By Adam J. Woodhouse-Keele

Make sure to bring your friends and family to Utahoma at the Off Broadway Theatre in Salt Lake City. It is a pun filled, raucous good time for all ages.  This intimate theatre makes sure that everyone gets involved in this rip-roaring production.

Utahoma is an original parody, the lyrics and script both written by one of the co-founders of the Off Broadway Theatre, Eric R. Jensen. This Oklahoma parody has recognizable tunes with new and zany lyrics. The show takes its audience on a journey to show how Utah was settled by the Mormon pioneers lead by Brother Brigham (Jason Wadsworth.) Utahoma also follows the love story of two couples, Lil’ Ellie (Denali Mckinney) and Del Lyman (Austinn Jensen) and Lenora Wright (Mary Neville) and Laverle Norman (Fred Sherman Lee.) The men, Del and Laverle, must prove themselves to their gals against two new suitors, Jed Bridger (Chris Harvey) and Giuseppe Ramin (Eli Unruh.) Mishaps, mayhem, misfortune and a myriad of puns ensue in this ‘fun for all’ production.

The puns alone deserve their own recognition so I give credit to Jensen for writing such incredibly witty puns. What made the show, for me, however, were the moments that are unscripted. The sheer improv talent onstage is fantastic. The actors read the audience perfectly and add things in or extend jokes based on audience reaction. During the production, there was a cute child heckler who kept telling the actors how funny they were in the middle of the show. Once during the show he said, “This show is awesome!” and without missing a beat, the Prospector (Rusty Bringhurst) joked with the kid and had the audience rolling.

I also really enjoyed the ensemble actors not just blending in with the scenery but creating small character choices that added to the scenes. This great ensemble is made up of Aubrey Bahn, Reeve Boyd, Denali McKinney, and Emily Smith. My favorite moments with them were during the song “Oh, the Cougar and the Ute They Should be Friends.” They all create such fun characters and truly fill the stage with their energy. Director/Choreographer Sunny Bringhurst has made sure all characters are highlighted in some way and the entire production shows her deft handling,

For me, my favorite performances came from the two narrator characters the Prospector and Timpanogos (Kati Paul.) Bringhurst plays an over-the-top wacky Prospector who is constantly joking with the audience and other members of the cast. His performance doesn’t just have the audience laughing, but he manages to cause his fellow actors to break character and laugh along with us. Paul plays a more mellow character with witty lines that help bring balance to Bringhurst’s Prospector. The duo is a great combo onstage and they work well as the narrators to this fun story.

This show is so much fun. With an amazing cast like this who all have the freedom to improv, you will feel like you are part of a unique experience every night. You won’t want to miss this show, and you will probably want to see it a couple of times. So pack up the handcart and go see Utahoma at the Off Broadway Theatre in Salt Lake City. If you are wondering where you want to go this weekend, this is the place.

Off Broadway Theatre presents Utahoma by Eric R. Jensen                                             Off Broadway Theatre 272 South Main Street, Salt Lake City, UT                                      August 11-September 16, Monday, Friday, and Saturday at 7:30 PM                                Tickets $10-$16                                                                                                             801-355-4628                                                                                                               Facebook Page                     Facebook Event

 

“Oh, the Places You (Should) Go” to Draper Historic Theatre’s “Seussical the Musical”

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By Adam J. Woodhouse-Keele

Seussical at Draper Historic Theatre is a great show for all ages, so you can bring the kids or make it a date night. Just don’t miss this gem.

When I entered the theatre I was met with a beautiful, colorful set. It’s lively and looks like it’s directly out of a Dr. Seuss book. After sitting for a bit, The Grinch (Casey Dean) came onstage and delighted the crowd with a “turn off your cell phones” speech in character. Dean is quite the entertainer and does some improv comedy based on crowd reactions during the speech and it was a very fun way to start the Suessical.

When the overture began, I was transported back to the other side of the curtain. Some backstory, I was involved in a production of Seussical and fell in love with the show. This show really speaks to me in a lot of ways. I’ve seen Seussical several times in addition to being in a production of it, so I had a high bar set for this show, and I was not disappointed.

The Cat in the Hat (Michelle Hickman) and Jojo (Ally McCune) light up the stage the moment they walk out. Hickman is animated and really commands your attention while she is onstage which, as the narrator of the show, is extremely important. McCune plays a more reserved and controlled character, which really helps to balance Hickman. They both work very well together to tell this eclectic story.

Though I enjoyed the vocals and acting of all three Wickersham Brothers (Paul May, Robert Van Noy, and Joseph Rose) I was blown away with Rose’s performance. At the age of ten, Rose takes the lead vocal solo during the Wickersham song, “Monkey Around” and he slays it. Rose’s stage presence is well beyond his age and with a voice to match, this kid is going places.

Horton the Elephant (Doug Cahoon) is a star even after a ten-year absence from theatre. Cahoon plays a loveable elephant who is just trying his best to take care of everyone. I believed his character emphatically and enjoyed watching him onstage. As far as singing goes, this man kicks it into high gear. Cahoon in tandem with McCune performed “Alone in the Universe” and it brought tears to my eyes. Though he deserves more than praise, I sincerely would like to thank Cahoon for sharing his talent with me and everyone who comes to see the show.

The directors Taylor Twitchel, Alix James Van Noy, and Max A. Moreno should be applauded for their efforts. The show is incredible and you should make the time to see Draper Historic Theatre’s production of Seussical the Musical.

Draper Historic Theatre presents Seussical the Musical by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty

Draper Historic Theatre 12366 South 900 East, Draper, UT 84020

August 4-5, 7, 11-12, 14, 18-19, 21, 25-26 7:00 PM Saturday matinee August 19 2:00 PM

Tickets $7-15 (not a bad seat in the house)

801-572-4144

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