Now that our readers have had time to digest our post about excellence in 2013, it’s time to look forward. At UTBA that means our annual “wish list” for Utah theatre. Some of these wishes have made appearances before on our blog. Others are new. Read them, tell us what you think, and tell us what your wish list is for Utah theatre in 2014 . . . and beyond.

Food for thought for Utahns

I saw a few plays that gave a commentary on the LDS culture in Utah. Racking my brain, though, I’ve never seen this topic done well. So far, playwrights and directors seem to think they can take on the entirety of the culture-with all its nuance and history – in one go. And the truth is, I’ve never seen a contemplative theater piece about the LDS culture that didn’t come off as so biased for or against one particular view that it wasn’t completely off-putting. So that’s my wish: I’d like to see a well done piece of original theatre that looks at Utah culture in a manner that it gives the audience something to think about without cramming an agenda down their throats. —Julia Shumway, UTBA reviewer

Playwright festival

Something that I feel would be a wonderful endeavor for the Utah theatre community would be for a few of the companies to band together to showcase new talent.  Somewhat similar to some of the popular film festivals we see in the area, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had a week long festival of new playwrights?  Perhaps one or two could be full productions, while there could also be writing and acting workshops, staged readings, and contests to submit work.   If this became an annual event, it would encourage creativity, collaboration, and give aspiring authors a place to showcase their work.  If a few companies pooled their resources and facilities together, this could become an exciting addition to an already vibrant theatre community. —Maren Scriven, UTBA reviewer

Be smart about concessions

Don’t sell concessions that aren’t allowed in your theater.  That’s like saying, “Yeah we want your money, but we don’t care about your comfort.”  Lame. —Amber Peck, UTBA staff

A different approach to classic musicals

My annual wish of somehow being able to make my theater dream come true: A company that produces classic musicals (Gershwin, Cole Porter, Rogers and Hart, etc.) in semi-staged readings with full orchestra so that modern audiences can hear these classics the way they were meant to be heard. —Tony Porter, UTBA reviewer

Longer runs

I didn’t catch a Grassroots Shakespeare Company production this year.  Their shows seem to come and go so quickly, so I need to pay better attention next year. I would appreciate it if they and some other great companies either had longer runs or stretched their performances out over a longer period of time. —Amber Peck, UTBA staff

Theatre for young audiences in Salt Lake County

One of my favorite things about reviewing for UTBA is the chance to take my children to see productions aimed at children.  I have three little boys, and they each look forward to their “dates” with mom to see some pretty great shows.  In fact, as I’ve reviewed I have been pleased to find that the production quality of these productions for young audiences is generally consistent with or superior to that of other community productions.  However, as a resident of West Valley City, I frequently find myself driving over an hour to attend these productions in Orem.  My wish is for more, high quality theater for young audiences in the Salt Lake Valley. —Andrea Fife, UTBA reviewer

Hispanic and Pacific Islander companies

Two companies have a disproportionate level of importance in our theatre community: People Productions and EttaGrace Black Theatre Company—the only two African American theatre companies in Utah. Neither company produces a lot of shows, but when they do the scripts are always important. My colleague raved about People Productions’s Race this year, and The Face of Emmett Till (although just a staged reading) was one of the most moving shows I attended this year. What I wish is that Utah had similar companies telling the stories and showcasing performers from Hispanic and Pacific Island cultures. It would make Utah an artisitically richer state and provide audiences with an experience that is not available from other companies. People Productions and EttaGrace have both shown that these sort of companies can find an audience here in Utah. I imagine that it would be easier for a Hispanic or Pacific Islander company because both of these communities are larger in Utah than the African American community. —Russell Warne, UTBA staff

Expand the repertoire

For 2014, I would love to see arts councils dare to pick some new shows to do, and think a little outside of the box, rather than stick to the regular Utah favorites.  We’ve had enough of Annie, Joseph, The Sound of Music, and The Music Man for a few years.  There are many lesser known shows that can appeal to the same demographic, but they haven’t been produced as often in this state.  I’d love to see arts councils do some research and pick some of these lesser produced works rather than stick to the same 15 regulars. I also hope to see the independent theater movement continue, it really has shaken things up in the theater community in a good way.  I’m excited to see Pinnacle Acting Company back on the scene (with Boeing-Boeing in January) and hope Dark Horse Theater will find a way back onto the scene.
My wish list of shows I want to see produced: Any of Sondheim‘s less frequently produced shows (A Little Night Music, Passion, Follies, Merrily We Roll Along, and Sunday in the Park with George in particular).  Also, I’d love to see a few of the classics re-vamped, including some of the lesser known Rodgers and Hammerstein or Lerner and Loewe, or other revivals.  Other great shows would be the great classics such as Amadeus, David Mamet, Arthur Miller‘s lesser known works, and August: Osage County (not a classic, but needed in Utah), Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Proof, and A Doll’s House. —Johnny Hebda, UTBA reviewer

Improve Marketing & Communication

I know many of us will read through the list above and say, “We have that! We’re doing that! Why don’t you know about us?” and, well, that’s a problem. There are many likeminded individuals in this state striving to foster new talent, introduce new titles, and start new theatre models. Sadly, if no one knows about it, it’s almost as if it didn’t happen. It’s my wish that theatre professionals will continue to work together more closely in promoting their seasons and initiatives. I know we all have to watch our own backs, but increased cross promotion and group initiatives would be phenomenal. The stronger theatre community we build, and the closer we can work with our non-theatre community the better. Oh, and I’d love to see a few more blogging sites pop up to support the great work everyone is doing. The more people we have talking about the arts, the better chance we have of having some great critics pop up. UTBA is not THE authority on theatre. We just write about it because it needs to be done. —Dave Mortensen, UTBA founding editor