Catch “Brigadoon” at the SCERA Shell Outdoor Theatre in Orem Before It Disappears

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By Angela Dell

Lone bagpiper, James Moyar, stands at the top of the hill at the back of the audience and plays traditional bagpipe music in a kilt and hose before the start of Brigadoon at the SCERA Shell Outdoor Theatre in Orem. This is my first time seeing the original musical written by Lerner and Loewe, so I had zero expectations going in.

For those like me who are not familiar with the show, it follows two Americans, Tommy Albright (Logan Bradford) and Jeff Douglas (Sam Arnold), on vacation in the Scottish Highlands. There they find a magical village that only appears on the earth once every 100 years, unless someone from the village leaves. In which case, the village ceases to exist and the people are lost forever. Tommy falls in love with the beautiful and ever hopeful Fiona (Aubrey Rose Jackson) but must decide to either give up the life he knows back in America or his one true love.

Both Bradford and Jackson absolutely floor the audience with their amazing vocal talent. Bradford’s vocal performance history is extensive and impressive. His acting ability is consistent and dedicated. He gives his character depth and feeling as much while singing as well as delivering dialogue. This being Jackson’s debut performance, I’m absolutely stunned by the amount of talent she delivers. It’s not easy learning and maintaining a Scottish dialect, but she pulls it off superbly. She adds complexity and strength to her character that makes her a far more interesting person to follow onstage. Bradford and Jackson’s multiple duets throughout the show are a complete treat. Their duet “Almost Like Being in Love” is so charming and sweet, I heard audible sighs from the three girls sitting in front of me and my friend.

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Arnold’s devotion to his character is extremely apparent. Although his singing talent wasn’t specifically showcased in this production, Arnold is a talented 17-year-old with excellent comedic timing. He plays off his scene partners with a very natural sarcasm and never drops a line. Maggie Warren plays the formidable Meg Brockie, who just can’t seem to leave poor Jeff alone. Warren’s energy is contagious onstage. She gives her all in the song “The Love of my Life” in order to convince the reluctant Jeff Douglas of her suitability as a wife. The scenes with Warren and Arnold are absolutely charming and hilarious with their clashing desires.

The real reason we’re all here is to watch the dashing Charlie Dalrymple (Kyle Hansen) and sweet Jean MacLaren (Elizabeth Crandall) marry. Hansen’s understanding of his character goes beyond this production as he played the same character in a previous production in American Fork. His confidence onstage matches his character’s confidence about life. His character’s relationship with Jean is sweet and exactly what every girl wants in a guy. In the song “Come to me, Bend to me” he sings it with such care and humility, you’re grateful when she comes out and dances around him while he’s blind-folded to give him the assurance he needs when preparing for their wedding. Crandall’s performance shines during her ballet pieces. Her dance during “Come to me, Bend to me” is so sweet and meaningful, in tandem with Hansen’s singing, it makes for a beautiful piece.

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This was Christopher Gallacher’s first show choreographing and it was absolutely stunning. He used his background in folk dance to bring out the movement of the villagers in a symmetric and organized display. The ensemble did a marvelous job moving together as well as accomplishing the beautiful and sometimes complicated steps choreographed. Paired with Kelsey Seaver’s costume design, there is a veritable rainbow of color crossing the stage.  The set is easily movable and designed to allow for the impressive ensemble to dance, float, or chase across the stage thanks to set designer Shawn M. Mortensen.

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Director Jerry Elison is a hometown treasure to the local theater community. His hard work and dedication to this performance shows through as it does for all of his productions. His casting choices, blocking, and vision for the show was thoughtfully made and excellently executed. His devotion to theater shows through in this production.

The theatre is hard to miss sitting right in the middle of SCERA park but as there is construction on the parking lot on the east side of the theatre, parking may be limited so get there early. Also, bring bug spray as there are lots of bugs that come out around Intermission. If you are lucky enough to get seats in Section A or B, you have a white chair provided for you. If you opt to sit in the higher up seats, you can bring a blanket to sit on, your own folding chair, or rent a chair from them for one dollar. I’ve sat in the higher up seats with a blanket, and it was perfectly comfortable. They have concessions that are reasonably priced with an assortment of snacks or the option of getting a slice of Papa John’s pizza or a six-inch sub from Gandolfo’s.

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The SCERA Shell Outdoor Theatre gives us beautiful music, talented actors, and devoted crew that creates a show that reminds us “when ye love someone deeply enough, anythin’ is possible. Even miracles.”

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SCERA Shell Outdoor Theatre presents Brigadoon by Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner

SCERA Shell Outdoor Theatre, SCERA Park, 699 State St, Orem, UT 84058

August 4-19 Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturdays 8:00 PM

Tickets: $10-14

801-225-2787

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Crazy About The SCERA’S Crazy for You

cfy1By Joel Applegate

The Summer of 2015 provided the perfect night for opening a delightful musical under a blue, blue moon. SCERA Shell’s outdoor production of Crazy For You, directed by Jerry Elison, is a pastiche of Gershwin favorites specifically chosen to make a plot work. But who cares about a plot when you’ve got nineteen back-to-back Gershwin favorites to listen to and a platoon of chorus girls?

Think Gershwin, and you probably think New York – or the hoi-polloi of Eastern literati. On the SCERA’s big stage, Nat Reed’s set evokes classic New York sophistication; a stroll down Broadway and 42nd Street. We find ourselves in a story that takes place during the 1930’s, one of the most fertile eras of American Theatre – led by the glorious Gershwin’s.

But wait! We’re not in New York. We’re in – Nevada? Crazy for You is Ken Ludwig’s clever brainchild incorporating classic 1930’s Gershwin standards into the Tony Award winning Best Musical of 1992. Ludwig wrote the book, and the script is very witty with way more of a plot here than you might expect. Sure, it’s a little corny; Boy meets girl; girl hates boy; boy disguises himself; girl falls in love with disguise – oh, never mind.

Bobby just wants to dance, preferably in New York. But his fate and his bank inheritance depend upon the mortgage of the old Gaiety Theatre out West in Deadrock, Nevada (no such place; I already looked.) You see, Bobby’s mommy, who owns the bank, wants to foreclose on the theatre, and she wants Bobby to man up and be the villain.

So we’re off on a cross-country road trip of song and dance! Things turn out differently for Bobby when he gets to Deadrock. First, he falls in love with Polly at first sight, and decides if he can’t dance his heart out in New York, he’ll make do with an old run-down theatre: The Gaiety – now converted into a post office. But Polly and her Dad won’t let the old palace go without a fight. They fight back with – what else? – song and dance! In the best tradition of Hollywood cheese, Polly and the now disguised Bobby decide the best way to save the theatre is to “put on a show!” with a tip-o-the-hat to Mickey Rooney.

There’s plenty of Cowboys on hand – and Follies Girls to talk them into auditioning – and it’s all hands on deck. The denizens of the town of Deadrock are a spectacle in front of a set doing double-duty rotating from drab New York to the colorful landscape of the West – the best achievement of Reed’s design. The set changes are integrated into the action, and I’ll refrain here from giving away the visual surprises.

Director Jerry Elison and the production crew pay tribute to the spirit of Golden Age Broadway in so many ways, with the staging, the costumes, the dancing and the pacing. A taxi pulls on stage and before you know it, 19 – count’em! – 19 chorus girls burst out of it singing and high stepping. There’s hardly a dull moment in two and a half hours.

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Deborah Bowman’s costumes exhibit a pleasing variety of style and interest. The chorus line is cleverly and cutely outfitted, a delightfully designed mash-up of old Burlesque, slyly accented with nods to the western plaid.

There are some HUGE numbers in Crazy For You to choreograph, and SCERA clearly made a wonderful choice with choreographer, Sam Alva. This is a highly energetic cast and crew – THIRTY tap dancers all dancing in sync is a massive accomplishment. It might not seem so on paper, but to watch it happening is like watching a giant engine of many gears working perfectly. It’s rather amazing and you won’t be able to look away. This took a LOT of good old fashioned work to accomplish, deserving of hearty applause. “Slap That Bass” was among my favorites of the night.

Meanwhile, back on the buckboards with Bobby and Polly, their romance is inevitable, no matter how much they annoy each other. As Bobby, Christopher Gallacher has obvious chops as a trained dancer. He’s a great tapper and his jete ain’t too shabby neither – for a city slicker. Gallacher’s voice is clear and good – we don’t miss a single word. T’Naiha Ellis brings our Polly to life with a confident belt when she’s showing who’s the boss. There’s a beautiful clarity to her voice in “Someone To Watch Over Me.” A pas-de-deux with some sweet moves brings Polly and Bobby together: the dance number that starts the romance.

Our two protagonists, Michael DuBois as Bella Zangler in New York and Tyler Scott Mitchell as Lank in Deadrock, are both won over by the end. (It IS a musical, folks.) Lank’s clumsy attempts to win Polly’s hand (and take over her theatre!) lack finesse, but not humor. Dubois has a truly fine voice, and he commiserates with Bobby in a number that is an act in itself, combining some tricky business in a well-blended, over-the-top, and drunken duet.

Julia Sanchez plays the jilted and clingy Irene. Once freed of her engagement, Sanchez has a chance to show her true colors; a beautiful smooth tone on “Naughty Baby.” She might have dared to insinuate even more.

The Cowboy Trio composed of Neil Ellsworth, Max Sneary and Andrew Walsh, lives up the harmonies the Gershwins crafted. It’s great music to listen to – sure wish we could have heard them more.

As A Chorus Line so famously reminds us, the core of any musical is the company. Crazy For You’s chorus filled the entire stage with well-coordinated action. You can bet a lot of hours went in to their performances. Some of the troop stood out, not least of whom was Jasmine Petrell as Tess, assistant to the impresario Mr. Zangler. She was out front on most big numbers and took the lead with confidence and a smile as big as the West.

You simply can’t lose with the Gershwins. Together, George and Ira wrote American tunes that are among the most beloved – and hummable – in the lexicon.

Crazy For You
Scera Shell Outdoor Theatre – 699 S. State St., Orem, Utah (East of the Scera Pools)
~ July 31 – Aug 15, 2015; Mon, Thur, Fri, Sat at 8:00 PM ~
General Admission: Adults: $12 Children & Seniors $10 [Children: Ages 3 – 11]
Reserved Seating, Section B: Adults: $14 Children & Seniors $12 [Seniors: 65+]
Reserved Seating, Section A: Adults: $16 Children & Seniors $14
www.scera.org Phone 801-225-ARTS (2787)

Note: Crazy For You is two and a half hours long. You may want a light jacket or blanket by the end of the night. You can rent a seat for a dollar in certain areas of the amphitheater, and there’s lots of room on the grass. On Opening Night there were plenty of empty seats up front, and it’s worth the little extra you pay to be close. There’s a lot to see here and it’s more rewarding to watch the principal roles interact with each other. You will definitely enjoy the show more.

 

SCERA’s The Scarlet Pimpernel is a Visual and Vocal Masterpiece

By Larisa Hicken

ScarletPimpernel+11x17+Poster_OL+1The Scarlet Pimpernel based on the work by Baroness Orczy, with music by Frank Wildhorn and book and lyrics by Nan Knighton, is Director Jerry Elison’s 28th show at the SCERA theater in Orem,  Utah.  It is also one of my all-time favorite shows, so I was eagerly anticipating seeing this production.

The Scarlet Pimpernel takes place during the French Revolution and is full of romance, intrigue, and humor.  On his wedding night, Sir Percy Blakeney discovers that his bride, actress Marguerite St. Just,  provided information that led to the capture and execution of St. Cyr so he turns away from her and together with his friends decides to save as many aristocrats from the guillotine as he can through disguise and trickery.  Percy becomes the Scarlet Pimpernel and he and his bounders rescue many nobles from the guillotine and Chauvelin, a leader in the French Republican guard.  Eventually Chauvelin captures the brother of Marguerite and threatens to kill him if Marguerite doesn’t help him capture the Scarlet Pimpernel, but she has no idea that the famous hero is her own husband.

I was worried that I would miss the performance due to storms that lasted most of the day.  Just in time the sky cleared up and the show went on.  Thank goodness it did because the set designed by Teri Griffin is truly something amazing that made the whole night truly unforgettable.  I was in awe of the genius and planning that must have gone into such a brilliant design.  If you get a chance to see the show, it’s worth every penny of the ticket price just to see the set.

Of course, the show would be nothing without the actors, particularly the three lead roles of Percy, Marguerite, and Chauvelin.  Sir Percy, played by Stephen Gashler, has excellent comedic timing and I really enjoyed the scenes with his bounders and the interaction between him and Chauvelin, played by Bryan Thacker.

marguerite-chauvelin-webThacker has an incredible voice and his singing was by far the best of the night.  Chauvelin’s song, “Falcon in the Dive,” is not traditionally one of my favorites, but it was one of the highlights of this particular show.

The role of Marguerite was played by the lovely Kelsey Mariner Thacker.  Her spunky portrayal of Marguerite was delightful and I really liked her character choices.  Her French accent was a little distracting at times – mostly because nobody else in the show had one, but her French during the reprise of the song “Storybook” was “incroyable.”

The music was very well done throughout the show, particularly by the very talented ensemble.  Martha Glissmeyer, the Music Director, did a nice job and the harmonies were spot-on in the chorus numbers.  The solos in “Madame Guillotine” were all very nicely done.

The most fun characters in this show are, of course, the Scarlet Pimpernel’s bounders and the actors Kristian Huff, Eric Glissmeyer, Justin Stockett, Duncan Johnson, Brodee Ripple, and Sawyer Griffin were highly entertaining.  They each had well developed character relationships and interactions.  My favorite bounder was Elton played by Stockett.  He had me laughing out loud several times throughout the night.

marguerite-percy-chauvelin-webThe most entertaining moment of the night was when Choreographer Penny Colvin and Costumer Kelsey Seaver showed off their style in the song “Creation of Man.”  The bounders truly looked hilarious in fringe-covered pastels and their dance was perfect!  Seaver also impressed me again with the costumes for the King’s Ball in Act II.  When Percy and Marguerite entered in their matching outfits, I was wishing for my camera.

I’m glad the weather cooperated and allowed me to see this well-done production of my favorite show.  If you get a chance to see it, bring a blanket or jacket and enjoy an evening of quality entertainment with stunning visual elements that make this show a true visual and vocal masterpiece.

Photos by Mark A. Philbrick

SCERA Shell Outdoor Theatre
699 South State Street, Orem, UT 84058
In the middle of SCERA Park

General Admission: $10 Adult, $8 Child/Senior/Student
Reserved Section B: $12 Adult, $10 Child/Senior/Student
Reserved Section A: $14 Adult, $12 Child/Senior/Student

August 2-17 @ 8:00pm
Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays
Gates open @ 7:00pm

The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley is Flat Out Entertainment for the Whole Family!

A Utah Theater Review by Shannon Eden

The Scera Theater for the Arts, located just off of State St. in Orem, is home to many venues – the latest being their production of The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley, put on by their Theater for Young Audiences and directed by Julie Nevin. In the heart of the city, the theater is easily accessible and easy to find. The seats are assigned, which makes finding an ideal spot convenient and simple, but make sure you’re on time so you don’t have to climb over too many legs! There are the regular house seats, as well as a balcony option and there really isn’t a bad seat in the house. I brought my family along, and – thought we were meant to sit front and center – we opted for a side row with easy access to the aisle, just in case my 18-month-old made it necessary to take advantage of their cry room (a quiet room, set in the back corner with glass walls so that moms can take care of those other-than-quiet children and still enjoy the show – genius! I always appreciate when accomodations are made for families). We could see and hear everything quite clearly. Not only were my six- and three-year-olds on the edge of their seats, listening intently through the entire production, but little britches was completely captivated as well! So, I didn’t get a chance to use the cry room after all. Continue reading