Author: Andrea Fife

A vibrant JOSEPH…DREAMCOAT at Hale Centre Theatre

WEST VALLEY CITY — Most active members of the Utah theatre community have had more than one opportunity to memorize the particularly famous list of 29 colors attributed to one amazing dreamcoat. Heralded as one of the most overdone musicals in the local scene, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat lends itself to a certain predictability, relying on a standard set of gags to carry the audience from through in this Biblical tale. Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s score and Tim Rice‘s lyrics provide a familiar palette, and many directors simply paint by number.  I entered Hale Centre Theatre tonight expecting to see a similar Joseph to the one I saw...

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Give a hand to Salt Lake Acting Company’s HAND TO GOD

SALT LAKE CITY — Book-ended by monologues contemplating the nature, origin, and roles of basic Christian tenets of good, evil, the devil, and salvation, Hand to God tells the stories of a teenage boy Jason and his mother Margery as they each struggle to cope with the respective loss of father and husband. While Margery seeks reprieve through an illicit relationship with a student in her church-sponsored puppetry class, Jason confronts his issues through his outspoken and painfully direct puppet Tyrone. Set entirely in the classrooms and offices of a Lutheran church, the vein of religion woven strongly through this Robert Askins script...

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Anything can happen in CenterPoint’s MARY POPPINS

CENTERVILLE — A classic adaptation from the silver screen in 1964, Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins debuted on Broadway in 2004.  Not only does the stage adaptation include a few new numbers in the score (with music by Robert B. Sherman, Richard M. Sherman, and George Stiles and lyrics by the Sherman brothers and Anthony Drewe) such as “Playing the Game” and “Brimstone and Treacle,” it brings additional depth to each member in the Banks family.  George gets a deeper backstory in Julian Fellowes‘s script, revealing the origins of his inclinations toward precision and order.  Jane and Michael have plenty of scripted...

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Unmet potential in Riot Act’s POOR BASTARD

SALT LAKE CITY — Light carpet topped with a red runner and lined with chairs on two sides designated a portion of the Central Utah Art Center basement as the stage.  Orange extension cords wrapped around the building’s exposed pipes, routing the bare pendant light bulbs to the board at the temporary tech table.  Aware of the venue’s weaknesses, writer/director Whit Hertford passed out blankets to potentially chilled audience members.  As I waited for this Riot Act production, Poor Bastard, to begin, I reflected on why I love the bare bones storytelling style of blackbox theatre wherein the emotional depth is often...

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A gradual build in FENCES at Pioneer

SALT LAKE CITY — Fences tells the story of Troy, a has-been baseball player who missed the big leagues because of the unfortunate combination of the color of his skin and the year of his birth. Against the backdrop of this injustice, Troy optimistically fights the union to allow African-American workers to drive the truck while pessimistically denying his son Cory a chance to make it as a football player.  In fact he lives much of his life in opposition, joking on the front porch with his wife Rose and longtime best friend Bono while wrestling with the knowledge of his...

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