Author: Melanie Parry

The fantastic FANTASTICKS at the Empress

MAGNA — The longest-running show in America, The Fantasticks is an exciting and intriguing story with a small cast. But it’s so energetic that it feels like a huge production. Director Kyle Esposito explains it well in his note in the program, “The Fantasticks is, at its core, a morality tale about the realities of life and love.  It is the ultimate romantic Anti-Romance.  It satirizes the over-the-top nature of young love and those romantic stories, while simultaneously viewing that young love as important in forming who we are.” The story begins with Matt and Luisa (played by Jordan Briggs...

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Funny fraud, hilarious hijinks in CASH ON DELIVERY

OREM — If you’re in the mood to laugh for two hours straight, Hale Center Theater Orem’s Cash on Delivery is where you need to be. The jokes were non-stop, the characters were hilarious and charming, and the energy between the actors was electric. Michel Cooney’s play has many different kinds of humor, from clever wordplay to slapstick injuries, from mistaken identity to a fight with a rogue washing machine. Real-life married couple Greg Hansen and Rachel Woodward Hansen play Eric and Linda Swann, two lovely British people with steady jobs and calm lives—except that while Linda is at work, Eric is at...

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Charming holiday cheer in A CHRISTMAS CAROL

WEST VALLEY CITY — The Christmas Carol has been a popular story for over 170 years.  It has the magic of Christmas, the human condition, redemption, family, love, kindness, unrequited romance, it’s a wonderful mixture of reality and the supernatural.  The set is not contained to the stage, and even every entrance is decorated to look like the streets of old England, even the ones that are not used in the production.  Evergreen garlands, red velvet ribbons, and flickering candles in old fashioned lanterns fill the space and draw the audience into the production with the actors. The Hale Centre Theatre in West Valley takes on this production every year to sold out audiences.  many families traditionally attend or even participate each year.  I attended this show on a Monday so I saw the Monday/Wednesday/Friday cast, but I’m sure the other cast is equally talented and engaging. This year’s Ebenezer Scrooge played by David Weekes was energetic, emotional, and engaged.  There are many times when Scrooge is left on the sidelines to observe a scene in which he does not participate, and Weekes stayed involved and focused through the whole thing.  This was particularly impressive because it was the second show of the night.  Playing Scrooge means playing two different characters and transitioning smoothly from one to the other. Weekes did this very well with his subtle reactions to the...

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Westminster’s TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA is how it’s meant to be seen

SALT LAKE CITY — When choosing a Shakespearean play to perform, most theaters choose a well-known play like Romeo and Juliet or Love’s Labour’s Lost. But Westminster College didn’t go the safe route, and (rightly) chose Two Gentlemen of Verona. Nina Vought‘s set design was built in giant pages that revolved like a monstrous Rolodex around the fountain and steps in the center of the stage. This effect tied all the set pieces together and made scene changes smooth and rapid. The sound design by Griffin Irish really helped set the mood with lively music during scene changes and perfect ambient noise—like crickets...

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No mystery to enjoying Highland City’s THE MOUSETRAP

HIGHLAND — Agatha Christie‘s The Mousetrap, presented by the Highland City Arts Council, is a fun and exciting murder mystery just in time for Halloween.  The show is family friendly, but possibly frightening for very young children. Directed by Gabriel Spencer, The Mousetrap is a classic whodunit murder mystery. Because it’s an Agatha Christie story, all of the characters are neurotic and they all have something to hide. There are eight characters in the play and every one of them could be the the murderer. As new evidence is found, one by one each of the characters fall under suspicion. As is tradition with this play, the audience is sworn to secrecy and asked not to reveal the ending to anyone who hasn’t seen the play. Spencer created a coherent ensemble of actors of varying ages who worked well together. There was occasionally unmotivated blocking when a character would walk across the stage for no reason, but for the most part the movement of the characters and usage of the space made sense and were easy to follow. Spence created a first act that was faced-paced, interesting, and quite funny at times. However, during the second act there were several missed cues and forgotten lines, which dragged down the pacing of the play quite a bit.  The climax of action and resolution happened very suddenly which was rather jarring, which fit well...

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