Author: Julia Shumway

A Modern Take on Molière

SALT LAKE CITY — The Would-Be Gentleman, presented at the University of Utah’s Babcock Theatre, was wildly entertaining. While Molière’s comédie-ballet was originally written and performed for King Louis XIV in the year 1670, director Gordon Reinhart’s adaptation spruced up the play to appeal to a modern audience. Most noticeably, he took out the ballet and threw in a lot of contemporary humor, music, and choreography. The Would-Be Gentleman stars Kory Kyker as Monsieur Jourdain, a member of the middle-class who aspires to become a member of the aristocracy. His attempts at aggrandizement lead him to hire instructors of music (Cameron Tyrrell), dancing (Bryan Glick), fencing (Olivia Vessel), and philosophy (Ruth Ann Jones) – all with comic results. For example, Monsieur Jourdain is delighted when he discovers that all his life he has been speaking perfect prose (as opposed to the only other option: poetry) – “Never cracked a book!” he exclaims with delight at his mastery of day to day speech. Everyone else in the play is perfectly aware of, and mocks rather openly at, Monsieur Jourdain’s ludicrousness: it would be hard to miss his absurdity with the clothes he wears – provided by the Hollywood-esque fashion designer (Jacob Lewis). Kyker did an amazing job – he played the part perfectly and was hilarious – his acting alone could have carried the entire show. But the rest of...

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A play at the Gallery Theater provides a delightful evening

OGDEN — Anyone attending a production at the Gallery Theater can look forward to a charming evening. The Gallery Theater is located in the lower level of the Eccles Community Art Center. Now on the National Register of Historic Places, the building was originally built as a private residence, and the theater has since been used as a ballroom, a college dormitory, and a dance studio. The tell-tale ballet rails still line the room, and all the theater implements are no-impact, so as to preserve the historic building. Clarence Socwell, poet and playwright, as well as one of the play’s producers, teaches a playwriting class at the art center, and many of the scripts produced in the Gallery Theater are written by his students. The scripts are all original works, and the cast and crew are local volunteers. The fourth of writer and director Paul Birbeck’s plays to be performed at the Gallery Theater, Slide Rule is a poignant tragedy disguised as a comedy. It portrays two climactic days in the unraveling of the 11-year marriage of Joan (Michele L. McGarry) and George (Trenton McKay Judson). The only other character in the play is George’s best friend, Rex (Jonathan D. Crittenden). The two-scene play opens with George, having been chased from his home by a projectile bread maker, taking refuge at Rex’s house. In comedic banter, the bachelor Rex tries...

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Mortal Fools Theater Project got it right with ‘The Glass Menagerie’

PROVO — I read the basic synopsis before going to see The Glass Menagerie:  a fatherless family living in 1937’s St. Louis.  I was expecting to see something about the effects of the Great Depression on city folk. Something like The Grapes of Wrath meets The Jungle. I was surprised, then, when the play didn’t make a grand social or political statement but instead spoke of the immense capacity for love and hurt that can be experienced within a family. For me, the play began even before the characters stepped on stage. Provo Theater, which seats an intimate 125 audience members, provided a perfect venue for the set (Nat Reed), lighting (Josh Gubler), and music (Amy Cloud) to draw the audience into the faded home of the Wingfield family.  My attention was already captured by the crazy-angles of the wooden framed living room, the room’s sparse furnishings, the distant boogie woogie music playing intangibly, and the prominently lit table decorated with tiny glass ornaments. The lights dimmed, and Tom walked in behind the audience, lit a cigarette (no cigarettes are actually lit), and introduced us into a “memory play.” In playwright Tennessee Williams’ beautiful prose, Tom introduced the remembered renditions of his sister Laura, his mother Amanda, a gentleman caller, and his father who, despite being present only as a portrait hanging on the wall, played a vital role in the family’s dynamics. While...

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