Playing through August 7, 2010

OREM — “Lizzy will last me my whole life through!” And this production of 110 In The Shade will last many their whole lives through. A beautiful story was told tonight at Hale Center Theater Orem. With plenty of comedy, spot-on acting, musical talent, a love triangle and a hint of tears – you have a recipe for delight.Only last week, featured Broadway actors Will Swenson and Audra McDonald appeared in this production at Hale Center Theater Orem.  It’s no surprise that they were met with fantastic reviews.  With expectations set high and tough acts to follow, the local cast took the reigns and roped in a success.

Based on N. Richard Nash’s 1954 play, The Rainmaker (later made into film with Katherine Hepburn and Burt Lancaster) became a musical in 1963 and was revived on Broadway in 2007 (with both McDonald and Swenson).  Even given great material to work with, it‘s possible for a production to fall flat – this one soared!

Lizzy (Natalie Wheeler) is a strong woman trying to find a man who will “stand up” and allow her to “stand up to him.” Considered to be “plain” by many, she finds herself doubting that she will ever be loved.  Wheeler’s performance is everything that Lizzy Curry needs it to be.  Both powerful and vulnerable, she takes you on a roller coaster of strength, humor, sadness and peace.

Pead and Wheeler

Will Lizzy find love with File (Kevin Goertzen), the strong and stable sheriff, or Starbuck (Darick J. Pead), the wild and free dreamer? Goertzen is grounded in his character and is stalwart in every moment.  Pead plays with just enough lightness to be a man living in his dream.  Who has the best chemistry when kissing the girl? You will need to be the judge on that one.  When they sing (and kiss), expect chills!

This review could go on for pages highlighting the incredible vocal and acting talent of the evening. Needless to say, all the leads were fantastic.  H.C. Curry (Marvin Payne) plays a mean harmonica and is an absolute riot. Anyone would be lucky to have him as a dad!  A perfect blend of love, frustration and near outrage is felt whenever Noah Curry (Tim Threlfall) opens his mouth. And by far, the standout surprise of the evening goes to Jared Young as Jimmy Curry.  Young is absolutely brilliant as the lovable younger brother and is destined for an amazing future in the theater.

The sound was the biggest drawback of this production with feedback being a major problem.  It seemed that something was wrong with Pead’s microphone because whenever he was on stage there were problems. It seemed either not to work or had distracting static.

Payne, Goertzen, Young, Threlfall

“Poker Polka” showed off some excellent choices in direction (Dave Tinney). The staging and comedic timing (props to the actors) came together perfectly.  Another nod goes to the firework scene (Cody Swenson) and choreography in “Hoedown.” However, there were times where the stage felt too crowded with unorganized chaos.  Tightening the choreography or slimming down the cast members in these scenes may help.

The biggest problem with this production is that one tends to forget to critique and review when swept away with talent.  An obvious job well done is indicated by the lack of notes at the end of the night, and in this case, there were very few. Bravo!

110 In The Shade is playing through August 11, 2010 at Hale Center Theater Orem (225 W. 400 N.).  Tickets range from $13.50-19.50 and can be purchased here.