Author: Elise Hanson

Get sucked into Neil Simon’s CHAPTER TWO

SALT LAKE CITY — There is something to be said for an excellent playwright. His words entertain, captivate, and get us to tune in to our emotions. Add to that a group of talented, skilled actors, and what you get is a lovely evening at the theater. Neil Simon‘s play Chapter Two tells the story of two people: one is a man named George, who has recently lost his wife Barbara due to illness, and is grieving her death. The other is Jennie, a woman whose unhappy marriage to a man named Gus has ended after six years. Both people are trying to come to terms with starting from scratch, and, through their friends who are determined to see the two happy again, the pair meet and begin a whirlwind romance. What Neil Simon is most skilled at is mingling humor in with real-life drama. I felt myself sucked into the lives of George, Jennie, Faye, and Leo almost as if I knew them. The words were so real and some struck so close to home that I even found myself tearing up at one point. In the role of George was Brian Pilling, whose portrayal of the grieving widower was graceful and emotional, and very well-handled. He slipped in and out of the lighter to more dramatic moments with the skill of an experienced actor, which was very refreshing...

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Valley Center Playhouse presents MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING

LINDON — Benedick and Beatrice absolutely can’t abide one another. They hardly meet, but there is a “skirmish of wit” between them. So what happens when their friends and relatives conspire to make the pair fall madly in love with one another? Much Ado About Nothing is one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays, so much so that one can be assured that if they have never seen it, a production will most likely be in play within the year somewhere in their vicinity. The play is a funny one, and I would recommend seeing it at some point in your life....

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THE HOBBIT gives you puppets, and dragons, and Gollum, oh my!

SPRINGVILLE — It’s a simple story: a mild-mannered hobbit by the name of Bilbo Baggins, who spends his days lying in the sun by his hobbit hole, dreaming of his next meal, is commissioned one day by a certain wizard called Gandalf the Grey to go on an adventure with some temperamental dwarves in search for some long-since stolen treasure. Over and under mountains they go, through forests and rivers, finally reaching their destination: the Lonely Mountain, wherein resides the dread dragon Smaug, who hoards the treasure that rightfully belongs to the dwarves. Along the way, Bilbo runs into a strange creature called Gollum, and becomes the owner of a most extraordinary ring. It was a story J.R.R. Tolkien meant for children, and this play, directed by Brian Randall and adapted by Markland Taylor, honors that intention. This bread-and-butter fantasy tale is broken down to its simplest form, eliminating many characters and unnecessary prose to tell the story in a way that children can understand and enjoy. The play was staged simply in a small space, with a two-dimensional mountain range the only backdrop for most of the action. The real set decoration came in the form of the puppets themselves, which were carefully crafted by Caitlin Shirts. I’ve never been much of a puppet person, but I enjoyed the Japanese Bunraku style in which the puppets were handled,...

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THE LUCKY STIFF in Murray is a lively surprise

HOLLADAY — Harry Witherspoon is bored. All day long he sits in a shoe shop with no one to talk to but some Italian leather loafers. He wishes his life could be more exciting, more adventurous; instead, he is stuck with an overwhelming sense of ennui. One day, Harry receives a telegraph that his uncle Anthony, whom he has never met, has passed on. Harry is in line to inherit six million dollars. That is, if he can fulfill his late uncle’s every wish. Otherwise, the money goes to a charity for dogs. Harry must take his uncle’s corpse on...

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Sandy Arts presents a classic: ARSENIC AND OLD LACE

SANDY — Since the 1941 premier of Joseph Kesselring’s farcical romp through the darker side of comedy, Arsenic and Old Lace has been a fan favorite and one of the most widely performed plays in theater to this day. The production currently underway by the Sandy Arts Guild is the perfect example why. Arsenic and Old Lace tells the story of Mortimer, a freshly engaged drama critic who returns to the home of his aunts one night only to discover a dreadful secret that could ruin the entire family. Things are complicated further when his evil brother Jonathan shows up,...

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