SALT LAKE CITY — I have never seen Saturday’s Voyeur in its many years. I have never been to a show at Salt Lake Acting Company at all in fact. So although I had of course heard tell of it, I really didn’t know what to expect on Friday night. Well, now that I know the high energy, superb type of entertainment they provide, I will be attending again and again.
The theater is in what I believe used to be an old church; the stage is small and the room feels intimate, but it was well decorated and they certainly make the most of it. The dialogue and humor comes from the intricacies and oddities of Salt Lake and Utah humor, everything from Jimmer to the feral cat controversy, to The Book of Mormon musical. It is certainly no love letter to Republicans. The actors portrayed humorous and sometimes unflattering renditions of such characters as Gary Herbert, Orrin Hatch, Donald Trump (one of my personal favorite impersonations of the night) and Ralph Becker. The sketches performed by Alexis Baigue as Ralph Becker were hilarious; his portrayal of the Salt Lake City mayor was a hybrid of the Mayor and Mr. Rogers, red sweater and all. What made it even a little more exciting on this particular night was the presence of Ralph Becker himself. Yes, two rows directly in front of us, Ralph Becker watched a comical version of himself sing “Won’t You Be My Neighbor.” What a good sport! The Mayor appeared to be having as good a time as the rest of us, and I even heard an audience member scream, “Hang in there, Ralph!” in support of his tolerance. The crowd was certainly an important part of the production; I felt more that I was in a room full of friends where anything goes.
The show began with a bang: a high-energy full-cast musical number to get us going, the perfect way to set you up for an evening of irreverent fun! Right off the bat I was impressed by the talent on the stage, and the hard work that clearly went into the show. The singing was on key, and whereas an ensemble can sometimes sound messy, the cast was together, harmonized, and pleasing to the ear. The choreography for this song was a lot of fun, complete with cast members running through the aisles. The director used the entire stage and immersed me into the fun that the actors themselves seemed to be having. The movement was perfectly timed and the dancing seemed to be focused mainly on the upper body, which made it very easy for the audience to see and enjoy the dancing. This first musical number—like the songs to come later in the show—was a popular song with re-written lyrics (“I Got a Feeling”) and a great way to start the evening.
The stage had a scattering of American flags hanging from the ceiling that were utilized throughout the show in a brilliant and fun way. I don’t want to give anything away, but these flags served as clever props to push along scenes later and were used to reveal characters during the night in a surprising way. What ensued after the opening number was a cluster of sketches and scenes all cleverly melded together by Paul Revere, played by Kent Harrison Hayes. Hayes would ride in and out of scenes, shout warning which seemed—in a sense—to prepare the audience for what was to come in next the show. Paul Revere frequently shouted, “The wackos are coming!” and he was not referring to liberals . . . if you catch my drift.
Victoria Elena Nones was a favorite of mine among the performers. Her rendition of Becky Lockhart was fantastic, her musical numbers were sexy and fun, and she has a good voice to boot. I specifically loved her rendition of “When You’re Good to Mama.” Other favorite performances for me included those from Jacob Johnson and Austin Archer. The former played staunch Republicans throughout the evening, he was able to make us laugh and bring in a little absurdity, without making his portrayal a full-on caricature. Archer played multiple characters, but was almost unrecognizable in his roles each time. It’s refreshing to see such a versatile actor. There were other impressive actors for sure and no weak links in the cast.
One device used to tie in the many scenes was the clever ensemble of the founding fathers re-entering throughout to provide commentary. Frequently they had the audience rolling on the floor every time they were on stage. The gag about the founding fathers discovery of Viagra was a brilliant idea! Writers Allen Nevins and Nancy Borgenicht wrote very funny dialogue and had a script that kept the show moving. My goodness, they must have spent hours combing the local papers to have so much local news to poke fun at. Although the script was funny, there were moments that felt a bit eye-opening and thought provoking as well. The jokes were at the expense of the local culture definitely, but the ribbing was also very tastefully done. I never felt like they took it too far and that the satire was classy.
I commend director and choreographer Cynthia Fleming for her fine work in this production. The work seemed so polished. There weren’t any sloppy moments in the musical numbers as far as the vocal or dance performances. When one actor moved their head to the music, they all did in perfect unison. I never caught someone out of step with the group and the timing on everything from the comedy to the blocking was excellent. I could even this great timing in unexpected places, such as Gov. Sherbert (Haha!) being mentioned in a song and his head popping up at just the right beat in the song and shout, “That’s me!” like a child proud of recognition. I enjoyed the little unexpected gems like this all throughout the evening. In seemingly every scene, the actors had it down to clockwork, ten people on stage moving in perfect unison is certainly something to see.
My only concern (if you could even call it a concern), was that a few of the jokes seemed to be repeated a few too many times. For example, far too many times throughout the evening, when a character was dissed, or forcibly removed, the same Jimmer joke was used. Frankly, they should have “Jimmered” that joke after the second or third time. And if you are not super up-to-date on a lot of the current Utah politics, you may miss a few jokes. Also, some of the references seemed too specific to certain areas of the state. I think you would be hard pressed to find a person who would be familiar with all the jokes, politicians, and references made. It is certainly not a reason to stay away, but be prepared for a few “Wait . . . What . . . ?” moments.
If you are easily offended and very sensitive to adult language, or don’t have much of a sense of humor about this lovely state of ours, this may not be the show for you. But I had an overwhelmingly lovely night. Saturday’s Voyeur is a very professional show with great music and lots of laughs. It felt like a party. If you haven’t seen Saturday’s Voyeur yet, let this be your year. Bring a bottle of wine, your favorite munchies, or even a picnic basket full of goodies (like the gentleman next to me), and be prepared for a light tummy ache from all of the laughing that will surely ensue. It is easy to see why this great group of artists and this fantastic concept for a show has been around for so long.