MURRAY – The Amphitheatre at Murray Park is bright little bit of wilderness in the Salt Lake urban sprawl. What a delight it was to attend their production of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.
Community theatre can sometimes be a wildcard. Oftentimes we go because we know someone in the cast and that generally overshadows any weaknesses in music, design or acting. But community theatre is huge in Utah. Most cities have formed their own arts councils and still more are simply host to a few individuals bent on making it happen. Murray City is a strong case for the quality productions that can come together from a neighborhood of talent.
The story follows the courtship and marriage of backwoodsman Adam Pontipee and his six brothers to Milly and a gaggle of six girls from the town. The script, while somewhat antique, is still very humorous as Milly attempts to domesticate these wild men so they can properly woo and wed as well.
Kelly Griffiths (Adam) has an incredibly tone to his voice and he carries it well throughout the show. Julie Nelson Blatter (Millie) provides an equally strong melody to the mix, though somewhat jazzier that expected. The pair are excellent on stage and complement each other nicely. Their acting is average, which is to be expected at most community productions, but I never doubted their commitments to the roles.
Adam’s brothers were played by Benjamin Plowman (Benjamin), Josh Lloyd (Caleb), Jon Scott (Daniel), Kent Lloyd (Ephraim), Brett Higley (Frank), and Josh Durfey (Gideon). This bunch is a lot of fun. Their energetic execution of the acrobatic choreography by Tracee Conde Walker was thrilling. More than once I was incredibly nervous that someone was about to dance or leap accidentally into the pit. Really, when imagining six lumberjacks dancing in the forest one can only hope it would be so exciting.
The boys’ sweethearts were played by Natalie Fortie (Dorcus), April Kimball (Ruth), Adi Shewell (Liza), Liz Hebdon (Martha), Mary-Martha Jackson (Sarah), and Alexa Steed (Alice). I appreciated the technique displayed in each of their dance numbers. Particularly enjoyable was their performance during the town dance.
Lorraine Brighton-Smith’s costumes well suited the production. Dave Newton’s set design was both functional and appropriate for the space. I was particularly pleased with the quilts prop designer Marla Smith-McKinney matched to each couple.
Overall this production an enjoyable evening in the Murray City Park. I recommend arriving early in order to snag the best seats. No need for blankets to sit on, but you might want to bring one along to keep warm.