Author: Elise Hanson

UTBA reviewers sound off: EXCELLENCE in 2015

At the end of every year at UTBA we collect our members’ thoughts on the excellent shows they have seen that year. And for the fifth year in a row, it is clear that the Utah theatre scene is vibrant, with entertainment options available for patrons of all types. Below are the shows that stick out in our reviewers minds as 2015 draws to a close. Excellent Professional (Equity) Productions Who would have thought that a farce written in the 1890’s would still be belly-aching funny 120 years later? The Utah Shakespeare Festival’s take on Charley’s Aunt was phenomenal all around:...

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DON JUAN COMES BACK FROM THE WAR is visually striking and stylized

  SALT LAKE CITY — We (and by “we,” I am referring to any person attracted to the male of the species), all know one: a man who, rather inexplicably in most cases, possesses that indefinable quality, that magnetic draw, that lures people to him in droves. He may not even be deserving of all the attention. He may be cold, indifferent, or downright cruel—yet there is no resisting him.  He has the “Kavorka.” This is the phenomenon examined in the unique little play Don Juan Returns From War by German playwright Odon von Horvath, whose script bears the influence of...

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BLACKBERRY WINTER is raw and moving

SALT LAKE CITY – The stage is set simply, with plexiglass tables arranged at increments, each bearing a different item: a small wooden horse, a recipe box, a stack of scarves, a piggy bank, etc. The walls and lights on the scrim are swirls of light purple, and there are white balloons floating in one corner. Vivienne (April Fossen), enters, carrying a purse and a letter in an envelope. She introduces herself to the audience, describing herself as “wonderful desserts, a bulletproof smile, and a terrible person,” and insists that she is not going to open the envelope, because...

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THE 39 STEPS is a bright, frothy bubble of frivolity

WEST JORDAN — “When a man is tired of London, he’s tired of life.” Richard Hannay is tired of London, and therefore, as Samuel Johnson once concluded, tired of life. He is stuck in the doldrums, wandering wistfully through his aimless existence, until a fateful night at the theater hurls his life into a whirlwind of assassinated femme fatales, clandestine plots, framed murder, leaps from trains, trudging through the frigid Scottish countryside, and, of course, a bit of romance. The 39 Steps is a humorous pastiche of Alfred Hitchcock‘s 1935 film of the same name, tossing in a few more references to the master director’s work, including mentions (and sometimes direct parody) of Strangers on a Train, Rear Window, Psycho, North by Northwest, and Vertigo. Playwright Patrick Barlow adapted the film into a minimalist farce, with basic set directions and only four actors playing every role, of which there are over a dozen. The set, designed by Vic and Michelle Groves, along with Travis, Brandon, and Robyn Green, was not only built to utilize the space of the former library now known as the Sugar Factory Playhouse, but it was also ingenious, creative, entertaining, and immersive. It was definitely one of my favorite aspects of the show, from the door on wheels that was used to great comedic effect, particularly in a scene wherein Travis Green (Clown 1) plays...

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FORUM falters, but ultimately delights

SALT LAKE—Having never seen Stephen Sondheim’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum on stage (I had only ever seen the film version), I was interested to see how this exuberant farce would turn out in the small space of the Babcock theater. I was pleased to find that the stage was utilized well, with colorful and creative set design by Cara Pomeroy. I was reminded of Disneyland by the pastel house facades and neatly-trimmed hedges. Indeed, I must say that the things that sparkled most in this production were the technical aspects: the dazzling and...

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