Author: Elise Hanson

Weak dialects muddy strong acting in THE WITNESS

SALT LAKE CITY — In the spring of 1994, the Hutu majority government perpetrated a mass genocide against the Tutsi people of Rwanda, leaving 500,000 to 1,000,000 dead. Vivienne Franzmann’s stark, focused play The Witness shines a spotlight on a group of people affected by this holocaust: an award-winning photographer, the daughter he rescued from the scene and raised as his own, and the orphaned brother left behind. An examination of white liberal guilt and the ethics of journalistic information, this story is as painful as it is honest. As the British photographer Joseph, Andrew Maizner led the cast as a solid...

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LOGAN — When I was a pre-teen, my stepfather used to walk around the house bellowing, “Bess, you is my woman now; you is–you is,” in his lovely baritone voice. That, along with the iconic “Summertime” were my introduction to America’s classic Porgy and Bess. Set in the 1930’s, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess (with music by George Gershwin and lyrics and script by DuBose Heyward, Dorothy Heyward, and Ira Gershwin) tells the story of a close-knit black community whose romances, religious beliefs, and vices lead to violence, sorrow, and difficult lessons. At the center is a crippled man named Porgy, who...

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Powerful, evocative, important: UFOMT’s “Ragtime” relevant today

LOGAN — At its core, Ragtime is a story about America. Not at its best, but at its most hopeful. Hope that someday—someday—things will change. People will be more kind, the world more gentle, governments more compassionate, and systems more malleable. As I write this, I am still overcome with the emotion that this story ignited. To say that this piece is timely is an understatement. A central plot point features a peaceful black woman being beaten to death by police officers because she is thought to be wielding a gun. And it is veritable evidence that the stories we tell exceed...

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Accessible Shakespeare in the Grassroots TWELFTH NIGHT

OREM — Grassroots Shakespeare Company continues to do what it does best: provide entertaining and well-executed productions of Shakespeare’s work in a way that is as fun as it is accessible, ensuring that anyone—no matter the age or exposure to the bard’s work—can enjoy a show. Twelfth Night is a light and frothy Shakespeare comedy featuring mistaken identity, cross-dressing, pranks, and kerfuffles. It is one of my favorites, and I was delighted to see it produced so well by the folks at Grassroots. Grassroots shows are produced without a director, and so it is a credit to the actors that they work...

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STUPID F***KING BIRD is a beautiful, bored, brilliant devil

SALT LAKE CITY — People clap when cake comes out, but sometimes the lighter malfunctions. That is the theme of the superfluously wonderful Stupid F***king Bird, but it certainly does not describe the production. From the moment Latoya Cameron appears onstage, singing balefully with the accompaniment of her own ukulele and comparing how very miserable her character’s life is with that of the character played by Justin Ivie, I was deliriously delighted, and I think I have found my new favorite play. I’m dead serious. The power and magic of truly great art—something that this deconstructed classic strives and succeeds...

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