UTBA guest bloggers, reviewers, and staff are united with a common bond: a love of the art of theatre and a desire to foster it at all levels. With a goal of encouraging the development of theatre in Utah, we asked our writers to give us their “wish list” for Utah theatre. Here is what they said:

What happened to Halloween in Utah County?

One thing I was especially disappointed in this year was the selection of Halloween shows in Utah County. The four years prior, there had been numerous options for Halloween season/Halloween night shows from groups like ARTE, Mortal Fools, UVU, BYU Experimental Theater Company, and Grassroots Shakespeare Company. I assumed Halloween shows had become a tradition. In 2011, Grassroots was the only group who gave us a Halloween show. I don’t know if there was a battle and Grassroots came out on top or if the other groups just ran out of resources, but it was disappointing.

Paige Guthrie, UTBA Reviewer

Social Networking

I wish that more theaters in the state would take full advantage of social networking. I feel that only a small handful of groups consistently use social networking in a way that engages their audience members and encourages them to buy tickets. Hale Center Theater Orem, the Children’s Theatre, and Pioneer Theatre Company are currently the best in the state in using social media to smartly engage their audience. (Honorable mentions go to Utah Shakespeare Festival, Salt Lake Acting Company, and Plan B Theatre.) But there’s room for improvement from everyone—including UTBA.

Russell Warne, UTBA staff
(who is, by the way, the guy who writes the FB posts, tweets, and Google+ posts for UTBA)

Community, Variety & Established Works

I feel like I just summoned a genie from a bottle. This was actually a hard topic for me. But alas, I have 3 wishes:

Community. I’d like to see a “Utah Theater Dinner Group,” a “Meet-up” or “Coffee with the Critics” where we go see a show and either pre or post event, we meet and socialize with others who love theater. Interested? Let me know, I’d be happy to organize. In addition, it has taken me years, as a patron, to really feel like I have an idea of what’s out there and it’s time consuming and difficult to stay on top of what’s happening. I think Utah Theater Bloggers has gotten us one step closer. I’d love to see some joint efforts to create a one stop shop for theater professionals, reviewers and patrons. Again, interested?

Musicals. I began my love of theater with a musical and I still crave them. However, one can only see My Fair Lady so many times. I’d like to see smaller theater groups try their hand at a rare musical more often. I love what Spotlight Theater did with Parade or Egyptian with tick, tick… Boom! I’d like to see The Last Five Years, Assassins, Side Show, or Bare done closer to home.

Plan–B. I love the talent and direction that Plan-B takes and I appreciate that they showcase new local work. However, I’d like to see just one established piece each season. Plan-B is such a strong equity house and they are a theater that takes risks, which I love. The taste I got from their scripted reading of Normal Heart in 2010, gave me a peek into what they can do with a beloved work. Again, adore the new plays (Borderlands was brilliant) but I’d like to see their talent at work with some Terrence McNally or Sarah Ruhl.

Megan B. Pedersen, UTBA Reviewer

Season Planning, University Support, More of the Classics

I wish theatres and theatre companies would pay a little more attention to each other’s seasons. For example, The Diary of Anne Frank is a classic. But it’s a bit of overkill when I can think of at least four different productions of it went up in Salt Lake or Utah County, all in the same season, and sometimes within weeks of each other. Just think: four theatres could have done four different shows. Instead they all did the same one, and that seems like a loss to me. Sadly this is something that happens all the time.

I teach theatre at BYU and UVU; naturally I go to their shows. I also see occasional productions at the U, Weber, Westminster, and USU. I went down to see a show at SUU earlier this year. It’s so important to support university theatre. It’s sad when a student tells me he’s never seen a show at another school. Theatre isn’t a competition; it shouldn’t be treated like a sport, where we play favorites. Exciting stuff is happening at ALL the university theatre programs in Utah; we need to support the future of the art.

As a playwright, I love the new, thoughtful work happening in Salt Lake (this is definitely something Utah County needs to catch up on). But I would like to echo Megan’s thoughts about established playwrights, and even go a step further. In addition to Mann and Ruhl, let’s see Chekhov, Shaw, and Ibsen. Let’s not leave the classics in the dust. I would thrill to see one of our resident professional companies tackle The Three Sisters. Oh, I just gave myself a chill.

Melissa Leilani Larson, UTBA Reviewer

Children’s Theater

I love theater, and I love that Utah has so many options.  As a mom, I really hope for an increase in child-friendly theater.  I love that Salt Lake has The Children’s Theater, and I hope that other community theaters will dedicated one show or so a year to families and children.  This year I had the privilege of taking my daughter, 5 years old, to see The Music Man, Mary Poppins, and Annie.  I hope to be able to double the number of shows this year.  I have friends in Davis County and Northern Utah who also hope for more of these shows up north, not just located in the Salt Lake Area.

Maren Alitagtag, guest blogger

More from the New, More of the Old, Help on the Pricetag

I have a hard time putting into words what I would like to see.  I hope to see more from some of the new theater groups in the Utah theater community like EttaGrace Theatre Company and The Hive Theatre Company.  Their shows this past year were some of the best and brightest.

I would like to see more of the “forgotten” classics of both plays and musicals.  There are some real gems that never get performed like old Cole Porter musicals, Rogers and Hart, Edmund Rostrand, Thornton Wilder, etc.  I admire the renewed interest in creating new and original Shakespeare productions, but there are other classics equally worth a second look.

And I hate to say it, especially in a down economy with dwindling corporate and government support for the arts, but I would love to see options for lower ticket prices and discounts to shows.  That is one reason I signed on to this gig: to see shows that I simply cannot afford to see.  And I have been uplifted the majority of the time in what I’ve seen.  I am enthusiastic about the future of theater in Utah.  There is much creative and artistic output happening, and the face of theater in Utah is constantly changing and adapting.

Tony Porter, UTBA Reviewer

Community/Student Talkbacks

As a student, I’d have to say that one of the things I have appreciated the most is the wonderful student talkbacks that SLAC has offered. I would love to see more programs like that in other theatres where students like myself can have the opportunity to understand how different local theatres work and understand their process in creating a show. I also think it’s great for networking within the valley and giving students a taste of what theatre is like here.

Daniel Fenton Anderson, UTBA Reviewer  

Experimental or Non-Traditional Theatre

I think it’s time for the theatrical scene in Utah Valley specifically to expose their audiences to some non-traditional theater.  With so much artistic growth and appreciation for bolder shows already happening in the area, and the community responding positively, I think the Utah Valley audience is ready for some experimental pieces. For me, experimental or non-traditional theater is that which surprises an audience in either their presentation of the piece or the way the story is told.  I have seen pieces where the audience was not given seats but gently pressed to be a part of the performance according to where they moved through the space; shows that told stories through unique forms of narrative: movement, puppetry, maskwork; or plays that simply did something completely unexpected within their given story–such as recreating a film on stage with live cameras projecting the film onto a screen in real time.  In short, let’s push artistic boundaries and ask our audience to step outside their box of “proscenium stage” comfort.  Utah Valley is ready for the challenge.

Katie Sue Sullivan, UTBA Guest Blogger

What’s on your wishlist?