Author: Christian Cragun

SEE HOW THEY RUN finishes strong at BYU

PROVO — See How They Run by Philip King is a classic farce about the Toops, a vicar and his uncouth wife living in a small English hamlet during World War II. Things get tricky when the vicarage has a number of unexpected guests show up all at once, including a nosy neighbor, a Russian prisoner of war, Mrs. Toop’s old USO buddy of Mrs. Toop’s, her father-in-law (who also happens to be a bishop), and a bumbling vicar from out-of-town. Things get complicated with all of the random visitors, but it all comes to a head when at least five...

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STEEL MAGNOLIAS finds moments of beauty

SPRINGVILLE — Full disclosure: I am nowhere near the target demographic of Steel Magnolias. Now with that out of the way, I can fully attest that this show can be enjoyed by most anyone. Though it centers around a group of gossipy women, I was truly able to have a great night watching the Springville Playhouse production of this perennial classic. Steel Magnolias is a show all about character relationships. Written by Robert Harling as a means of healing after a family tragedy, the show focuses on friendship and the strength and support that can be found in tribulation. Everything...

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Echo Theatre’s BIELZY AND GOTTFRIED is moralistic, not a morality play

PROVO —  Bielzy and Gottfried is one of the first entries in what the Echo Theater is calling its Playwriting Showcase. Unfortunately, this entry featured a poor script and an unpolished production that lost sight of the goal of making the audience really think. The show is structured using a series of short plays that are all tied together (and sometimes influenced by) the over-arching story of Lucius Bielzy and Joshua Gottfried; two play producers who were symbolic of the Devil and God. In the prologue, they reach an agreement to show a set of plays to an “unbiased” audience,...

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FARLEY FAMILY REUNION is a study in character and culture

PROVO — There are certain shows that know their audience. Some know their audience a little too well. Such is the case with James Arrington’s perennial one man show The Farley Family Reunion, now playing at the Covey Center in Provo. Arrington’s show uses familiar Utah/Idaho stereotypes to create a show that seems almost perfect for Utah County audiences. The premise of the show is simple and is summed up quite nicely in the title. The Farleys are gathering for their annual reunion. Arrington plays all of the characters (hence, one man show) from Heber, including the septuagenarian emcee and a four year old girl who can’t keep herself still. The audience is also included in the fun, as everyone was welcomed as a member of the family and asked to wear a name tag throughout the show. The Farley Family Reunion is also unique in the sense that there really isn’t a plot to speak of. The audience gets the basic outline of “family reunion,” but from there it’s really just a series of monologues that don’t really build on one another. That’s not to say that the show needed a plot, but it becomes more of a character study at that point. It’s almost as if Arrington is saying, “Here’s this character, look at the funny way they act. Okay, now here’s this character, look at the funny...

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No deliberation necessary: TWELVE ANGRY MEN is a superb show

CEDAR CITY — For me, the best theatre has always been the type that does more than just entertain. I love a show that tries to improve the audience in some way, or makes them take a hard look at who they are and what they do. The current production of Twelve Angry Men playing at the Utah Shakespeare festival is a great example of a show that does just that. It manages to instruct without being too preachy and accomplishes this through a proven script, powerful acting, and purposeful directing. All of which is capped off with a strong...

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  • We saw it too! Loads of fun!
    September 27, 2016 12:23 pm on It makes sense to see NUNSENSE at the SCERA
  • I watched Nunsense, when is was an off Broadway play in Grenwich village. It is a cute play!
    September 25, 2016 11:23 pm on It makes sense to see NUNSENSE at the SCERA
  • This production was hilarious! Such amazing talent!! YOu need to go!!
    September 24, 2016 11:23 am on It makes sense to see NUNSENSE at the SCERA
  • We saw this! Those ladies are incredibly talented!!! What great voices!!! And great acting. A lot of fun!!
    September 24, 2016 11:23 am on It makes sense to see NUNSENSE at the SCERA
  • Great review! Well done!
    September 23, 2016 2:23 am on It makes sense to see NUNSENSE at the SCERA
  • Nice review!
    September 22, 2016 10:23 am on It makes sense to see NUNSENSE at the SCERA
  • I very much enjoyed this unique, creative production. Check it out!
  • Maybe it's just because I notice it more now, but this year at the festival has been absolutely unbelievable in terms of costume design I've never seen so many shows where the costumes help tell the storybook well.
  • I have to say, I *LOVE* this costume design. Great way to bridge the past and the present. Also, the principle behind the costume design costume for this show is incredibly faithful to the way Shakespeare's actors would have costumed themselves. Brilliant work USF!
  • Everyone go see this!
  • I totally understand that having a large and varying group writing for you would have differing opinions-and it IS a big task. I can appreciate that. I'll have to see if I can remember specific shows I read things about... I would LOVE to share information about the scholarship. Do you have a link that gives me more info?
  • I apologize if I came off insulted. I'm not. I'm trying to elevate the discussion on Utah theatre and it's never going to be awesome unless more people do it. I'm sorry if I've offended, too. Yes, UTBA's reviews are inconsistent. It's a collection of volunteer patrons (with varying degrees of experience) writing about nearly every show that requests a reviewer. It's a monumental task. I'm sorry that you've read things you've felt were cruel. I would welcome a personal message so I can take a closer look at them. I'm not involved in the day-to-day or editorial content, but I can help. And please encourage UVU students to apply for our critical writing scholarship next year. It's judged by the three SLC-based Equity houses. I would love to see a Utah County student to win sometime.
  • I didn't mean to make it a personal attack. And yes, they can absolutely use some criticism, but I've read some pretty cruel things. And although not every show is good (we've all seen our fair share of terrible theatre) every production has something positive about it-because it is people making art. I am not a reviewer-nor do I plan to be, but as a professional and a consumer of theatre, if I read even a few reviews that have nothing good to say or seem poorly written, those reviews represent the whole. UTBA isn't the only review I'm disinclined to read-but for different reasons. I know some of the reviewers for UTBA, and respect their opinions immensely-but I have found it to be inconsistent. I apologize that you took this as a personal insult.
  • I've yet to see a review in Utah that levies personal attacks on artists. As for students I think it's valuable to receive criticism. Utah's negative reviews are pale when compared to the biting commentary on the national and international scenes. UTBA always welcomes readers that feel they would do better to apply and write for the site. And if they don't want to write for ours, then please start their own. More public discussion of theatre in Utah can only help.
  • Yes and no. You must be able to back up your opinion of a production with thought. You can't just hate it for no reason. I also really dislike when reviewer aggressively attack performers, particularly students, who are learning their craft for their performance. And sometimes they completely neglect to even mention design. All poor quality reviews in my humble opinion.
  • Oh, La. Every review/article out there is hit or miss for quality and bias. Take them as one patron's perspective. I believe every patron's opinion in my audience is worth hearing and receiving. I just have to remember to take praise with as many grains of salt that I do criticism.
  • :) I'll read it after Friday then...
  • It's very fair. But it might spoil the show for you if you haven't seen it yet ;)
  • Is it fair review? Their reviews are hit & miss for quality & bias so I usually won't read them.
  • I appreciate what you're trying to accomplish with The Fringe. And we received such great feedback from women who had suffered that I feel good about out attempts to shine the light. It's a revelation that the issues relating to women were ignored in a production that works so hard to bring them to light. Especially by a woman. It's also disconcerting to be seen as racially insensitive in our attempts to look at other issues in the text. Perhaps we took on too much for a one hour production. Hopefully, there will be women strengthened by our production though.