MARRIAGE GO ROUND is equally fun and bittersweet

LINDON — For thirty-seven years, the Valley Center Playhouse has been bringing quality, fun-filled, family friendly shows. Playing now until February 13, they are performing Marriage Go Round, which is a compilation of two different one-act plays. Interestingly, the combination of these two pieces give a pretty good showcase of what marriage is. And that’s saying something.

The first play is Why I am a Bachelor written by Conrad Seiler. The premise of this is that the Lecturer (Tyrone Svedin), one of the modern-day conmen who play to large audiences who have more money than sense, conducts seminars pontificating why people should stay single. Svedin has the swagger necessary, and interacts with the audience easily.

To show why singlehood is preferable to marriage, he has an example couple: Heidi, played by Sarah Pendleton, and Andrew, played by Daniel Tomlinson. We first see Heidi and Andrew just after their engagement. Andrew is completely insane with romantic love, and Tomlinson is hilariously perfect in this role. His facial expressions are appropriately goofy, and we ache to watch him act like such a fool. But I cringed because I had a premonition of what was coming.

Fast forward two years. It’s Heidi and Andrew’s anniversary, and they’re having a big fight. It isn’t pretty, but it is pretty realistic. The Lecturer by this time has been confronted by a lovely girl, played by Makinsey Eddy, who relates that her parents have been married for 40 years and yes, there are some tough times, but they are littered with tender moments, too. The Lecturer obviously doesn’t want to show this. He’s making money by convincing everyone to stay single. But the Girl asks the couple to show one of those tender moments, and they do. I won’t tell you what it is, but it’s charming and heartwarming and sweet. And it completely obliterates the icky fight.

What I liked about this play is that the couple is supposed to be a real couple, but is happy to recreate their happy and not-so-happy moments. It’s a shift in perspective that delighted me. All the performers were great, but Tomlinson definitely stole this show with his sincere performance.

The next one-act is a play written by Mark Twain called Adam and Eve. This has some really funny moments and some serious ones, too. For the first part of the play, Eve (played by Tonya Patterson) calls Adam (delightfully played by Dave Patterson) a reptile and he calls her “The Creature.” When they are cast out of the Garden of Eden, they begin to recognize their value to one another and realize they love one another. As anyone familiar with the story knows, soon Adam and Eve know sorrow when their elder son kills his younger brother. The end of the show is tender but, I’ll be honest, really sad. It’s an inevitable ending, but still…

Adam Cannon, the show’s director, did a fabulous job with both plays, choreographing movement throughout. Especially in Adam and Eve, with only two actors and minimal set decoration, movement was required. His directing for Why I am a Bachelor is equally proficient. The Valley Center Playhouse is a theater in the round, in that it has a “stage” in the middle and seats on all four sides. All the actors did well to keep moving so they never had their back to any audience for long. I also love venues like this because the actors don’t have to wear microphones. We hear their pure, clear voices without a bunch of static. Ahhhh.

I was sorry that only eighteen people attended tonight’s performance. However, I’m not sure this show is for children. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, but kids might get bored because it has a theme that’s more interesting to adults than children: marriage. My 16-year-old thought it was great, so I’m going to say teenagers and up will love this show.

The only thing I can say that isn’t totally positive is the Valley Center Playhouse has some miles on it. It could use a little sprucing up. But it really is a gem and it’s nice that there are places to go that aren’t too expensive and have a little bit more pizzazz than the same old movie date night or family activity.

Marriage Go Round plays Fridays, Saturdays, and Mondays at 7:30 PM thru February 13th at Valley Center Playhouse (780 N. 200 E., Lindon). Tickets are $5-7. For more information, visit www.valleycenterplayhouse.com.

About Jennifer Leigh Mustoe

Jennifer Leigh Mustoe is a graduate of BYU with a degree in Humanities and theater minor from Saddleback Community College in Mission Viejo, CA. One of her claims to fame is she is the daughter of Bozo the Clown (Jim Chapin) and starred in several TV commercials when she was a baby. Her father, not surprisingly, was producing commercials by then. When not writing reviews for UTBA, Jen is a freelance editor, acting in shows herself , being a stage and band mom for her son Caden, who usually accompanies her to her UTBA reviewing and supplies a teenager's perspective, going to movies, hanging out with her English teacher husband, jogging with her 4 Huskies, or riding one of her 4 horses. She also is producing a short film, and is a member of the Spanish Fork Community Theater board. She loves being one of the UTBA reviewers and is amazed and pleased with the quality of live theater in Utah. Play on!
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