Author: Russell Warne

Utah Shakespeare’s GUYS and DOLLS is a safe bet

CEDAR CITY — For readers’ musical theatre needs, I’ve got the horse right here, and it’s the Utah Shakespeare Festival production of Guys and Dolls. In classical musical comedy fashion, Guys and Dolls tells the story of two romantic couples. Gangster Nathan Detroit has problems in his professional and private life. Professionally, he needs to find a place to host his illegal craps game. Personally, his fiancée of 14 years, Adelaide, is pressuring him to get married. To raise the money to rent a location for his craps game, Nathan places a bet with master gambler Sky Masterson that...

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Arts education does NOT raise academic achievement (and that’s OK)

In my day job as an educational psychologist, I read over 300 scholarly articles and books per year. A lot of these discuss how to raise academic achievement (i.e., grades, test scores) in children. But because of my moonlighting gig as a theatre critic, a new article grabbed my attention. Titled “Does Participation in Music and Performing Arts Influence Child Development?”, the article was written by E. Michael Foster (University of Alabama at Birmingham) and Jade V. Marcus Jenkins (University of California, Irvine). Much to the dismay of many UTBA readers, the answer to the article’s title question is “no.”...

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Explore TARZAN this summer at Hale Center Theater Orem

OREM — Stories about children growing up and leaving home to become adults will always have a place in family-centered Utah County. Maybe that is why Tarzan, which features two grown children each facing the prospect of creating a new life apart from their parents, is such a hit in Utah County and why Hale Center Theater Orem made it their featured summer show this year. Based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs novels and the 1999 Disney film, the stage musical Tarzan tells the story of a man who was raised by African gorillas after his parents were shipwrecked and...

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A movin’ and groovin’ HAIRSPRAY at the SCERA

OREM — The best sort of musicals are the ones that make me want to put away my critic’s pen and go be in a show. The current production of Hairspray at the SCERA is just this type of show. With of a joyous score (by Marc Shaiman, with lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman), colorful costumes, and entertaining choreography, it’s not clear whether the audience or the actors are having more fun in this production. Adapted by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan from the 1988 film of the same name, Hairspray tells the story of the Tracy Turnblad, a...

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An adventurous ARGONAUTIKA at BYU

PROVO — One of the oldest stories of high adventure, Jason and the Argonauts has a modern twist on stage as Argonautika plays this month at BYU. Fight scenes, monsters, political intrigue, humor, and a love story make Argonautika a show that has something for everyone. Based on the account of Jason and the Argonauts as recorded by Gaius Valerius Flaccus (translated by David R. Slavitt) and Apollonius Rhodius (translated by Peter Green), Argonautika is an exploration of Greek mythology through the modern lens of playwright Mary Zimmerman‘s imagination. The story follows Jason, a demigod son of Zeus, as he searches for...

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