BLUFFDALE — I love going to professional and semi-professional live theater where everything is polished and goes off without a hitch. At the same time I also love seeing true community theater in small venues where everyone is doing the best they can to entertain their friends and family. The latter is what you get at the Bluffdale Arts‘ production of A Christmas Carol going on Dec 8-10th at Bluffdale City Hall. I saw the show on Friday the 9th and was going to rush home to write my review that night but they completely sold out so my review today is more to make you aware of the theater company as they have several shows planned for 2023.
During the summer Bluffdale Arts puts on their shows at the Bluffdale City Park (I saw Arsenic and Old Lace there recently) but during the winter they have a new venue inside Bluffdale City Hall. This venue presents some challenges for the troupe. They are basically in a business room with an elevated platform but they don’t have spotlights or other fixtures normal to a theater. There are some stadium lights but they don’t provide the nuance or colors of theatrical lights. They are also still working out the sound system for the venue and it never doesn’t feel like you are in an office space not a theater.
That said, there’s a certain charm to a group of friends making the best with what they’ve got. It has a “pull oneself up by one’s bootstraps” appeal that sometimes I miss from more polished productions. It also helps that director Julie Fox is modest in her goals picking a one act short version of the classic Dickens story, A Christmas Carol, and one that has a subtext of a theater company putting on the story while also playing out the story. So for example, Mark Hales plays both the Stage Manager, and the Stage Manager playing Scrooge. This is true for the whole group that all play a variety of roles both in the theater troupe and the Scrooge story. This version is written by Doris Baizley and it was an ideal choice for this level of community theater.
Seeing a show like A Christmas Carol at Bluffdale Arts would be a great way to introduce kids and families to live theater. As I said it’s a short show and at only $5 if they don’t enjoy it you haven’t risked much to see if they like the experience. It’s also a great way to support a lively group of friends trying to make something to entertain their community. Is it perfect? No but I’m glad I saw it.