OREM — In the demanding age of “Abbey Road” and Apollo 11 landing on the moon, The Man With the Pointed Toes remembers the importance of oil fields and Texas wranglers. The story focuses on Tom, a young millionaire who falls in love with a secret gold digger named Pamela. Pamela is from New York and Tom can’t quite keep up with her gogo boots and disco dancing. To help him get some learnin’, he hires Florence, a private tutor, to help him impress Pamela when she comes back at the end of summer. Hale Center Theater Orem provides many laughs accompanied by romance in their production of Man With the Pointed Toes.
Director Cleveland McKay Nicoll helps provide some of that joy and love. Nicoll provides great use of the stage and implementation of unique ideas. When all of the characters are in one scene, it never feels crowded due to the clever blocking and direction. Nicoll has the actors use the stairs, the bar at the end of the set, and the hallway to the kitchen—every space has a time to shine and never feels dull.
Nicoll also creates humor in the unique scene changes. While pieces are moving in and out and new props are being set, the actors create a second narrative with little side stories that seem to be of their own creation. These mini-scenes are full of humor and help deepen the character relationships. To Nicoll, well done.
The lighting design (done by Ryan Fallis) is simple but one of my favorite aspects of the production. At the beginning of the play, lights project bright yellow letters on the wall, the kind that are typically found at the end of old western movies. While complementary western music (designed by Cole McClure) echoes through the room, the letters highlight the cast, the director, and the title of the play. These letters are also used throughout the scene changes, telling the audience of the time that had passed within the narrative.
The set has an old saloon feel, complete with giant longhorn mounts hanging above pictures of western figures, such as Clint Eastwood. Under one of the longhorns, two halves of a whiskey barrel support the bar and serve as the shelves to hold the liquor. Within the set, designed by Bobby Swenson, nothing feels out of place—even the worn out, matching leather armchairs and couches. Above the kitchen table hangs a wagon wheel, bearing 5 lanterns that light up throughout the production. The set is the first thing that brings me straight into Texas and it, too, never feels boring.
Though each actor did an incredible job, I will only highlight four; the first being McKell Petersen, who played Florence. Petersen is full of light and energy throughout the entire performance. As Florence, Petersen carries herself with dignity as a private tutor from New York, but she also has some personable quirks. In one scene, she pokes fun at women who wear shorter skirts than her character. Thinking she’s alone, she lifts up her skirt to show off her knees and then dances around, acting silly. When someone enters the room, she jumps and smooths her skirt out, while awkwardly falling into a chair. Including these physical moments, Petersen also shows everything her character is feeling on her face. These facial expressions are humorous, kind, and loving. These little details are what makes Petersen charming and relatable.
Will Ingram does an incredible job being Tom, an uneducated Texan with two left feet and a thick southern drawl. Ingram’s accent is well done, being authentic and understandable at the same time. Throughout most of the show, Ingram has to switch between “git” and “get,” “bloomin’” and “blooming,” and does a great job at not mixing up the words. Most of all, Ingram is a well-rounded actor who can be both a rough and tough cowboy and a tender, loving man.
Dallin Bradford, who played Link, is my favorite man of the night. At first, Link seems to only be a supporting character, but he eventually steals the show. Bradford understands his character well—being lighthearted, caring, and the brains of the operation. He shows off his funny side when he describes to the boys his misunderstanding of social hygiene and also what makes girls feel confident (which includes his own sound effect of a cat getting feisty). Bradford makes Link real, someone that is actually a part of life and not just made up in a fairy tale.
Last but not least is Alexis Terrazas, who makes his onstage debut in Man With the Pointed Toes. Terrazas played Jose, a cook hired to feed the family, who eventually learns how to speak English. Terrazas looks natural on the stage and creates his own funny moments. When Florence first arrives, she speaks to Jose in Spanish, and Jose drops what he is doing to run to hug her. As Jose, Terrazas has sass and kindness and always has great facial expressions. I would love to see Terrazas in future shows.
In the program, Nicoll leaves a director’s note that I would like to mention. He says, “I’m grateful for the casts’ … eagerness to make this more than just a cute show.” The cast and crew for Man With the Pointed Toes does that and more. The jokes are not there just for laughs but to explore the depth of the love and the pain that the characters feel. It is more than a cute show—it is splendid and enjoyable.