Last year we asked our members to provide a wish list for Utah theatre in 2012. The post was highly productive. Some contributors didn’t get their wishes, but others did. Megan Pedersen, the proprietor of ATheaterLover.com and a then-member of UTBA, wished for a group of patrons that would see shows together and socialize before or after the play. That wish became a reality in 2012 with the creation of the Utah Theater Lovers Meetup group that sees a show together every month. Another UTBA member who got her wish was Paige Guthrie, who wanted more Halloween productions in Utah County. This year she had Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Tell-Tale Heart, Richard III, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and more to choose from.
Other people didn’t get their wish. Melissa Leilani Larson, for example, wanted more college students to see productions at other universities. Although we don’t know exact attendance at university plays, anecdotes we’ve heard from our contacts at universities indicate that not much has changed in college theatre students’ theatre habits. Katie Sue Sullivan (who is now Katie Sue Porter) wanted more experimental theatre in Utah County, and although there were some innovative and excellent productions in 2012, few would qualify as “experimental.”
This year’s wish list has some similarities with last year’s. Once again, UTBA members are hoping for some performances of plays that aren’t produced very often. But there are some new wishes that readers might find interesting. Hopefully some of our members will be lucky this year and their wishes will be granted.
This next year I would love to see Utah theaters continue to take risks and produce some more lesser-seen musicals and plays. A few suggestions: Little Shop of Horrors; lesser-performed Shakespeare productions, such as Othello; new material overall (Catch Me if You Can); and some favorites thrown in for good measure, including Bye Bye Birdie, The Music Man, and You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, to name a few. Mainly, I look forward to 2013 being another great year of interesting, thought-provoking, and well-done productions. I hope the Utah theater community will once again deliver!
— Jocelyn S. Gibbons, UTBA reviewer
My wish is that more companies took risks with new work, and that the new work they choose to produce have strong story lines and actually be original. Not just transplanted from Broadway or off-Broadway and not just shock value. I think that like a lot of theatre, novelty and spectacle have replaced storytelling as selling points here in Utah. Also, as always, I wish there were more plays showcasing diverse women or written by women, or directed by women, or designed by women. Women are still incredibly under-represented in theatre. In fact, the only place women may be equally represented is as UTBA reviewers.
—Megan Crivello, guest blogger
I love to see new and exciting plays getting done all over the state. We improved in this regard in 2012, but there is room to go further. We need to strike a balance between appreciating the classics and creating new ones. We have some very talented theatre artists among us; let’s support them when they reach out and try new things.
—Melissa Leilani Larson, UTBA reviewer
As for a wish list for 2013, I can only hope the innovation and risks that happened this past year continue and are pushed further. I’m excited to see what new companies like The Echo Theatre and Warboy Theatre Project bring to us in the next year. The thing I’m looking forward to the most about 2013 is without a doubt the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s production of Peter and the Starcatcher. I caught the show in New York last summer and was absolutely floored by one of the most creative scripts and productions I’ve ever encountered. I can’t wait to see what the festival does with it!
—Paige Guthrie, UTBA staff
I would like more of anything by Grassroots Shakespeare Company because I love them. I would like to see more by local playwrights, such as Kacey Spadafora and Brent Hartinger. I’m dying to see Vincent in Brixton again; If any one puts that on, I will come. I’d also love more comedic historical fictions: Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson and Charm were winners. I don’t want any more scripts about the Utah dating scene or anything to do with C.S. Lewis. If you put those on, I will not come, or if I do… it’ll be really hard for me to get over the bias this year instilled in me.
—Julia Shumway, guest blogger
In a perfect world, theatre companies wouldn’t have to worry about what sells tickets, they could worry about what moves their audiences. Unfortunately, this isn’t a perfect world. And unfortunately, the brilliant new material that is written every day doesn’t always sell. In 2013, I would like to see theatre companies making efforts to mix the old with the new. I’d like to see them choosing new material, but also making the old material new and refreshing. I love the old classics like Fiddler on the Roof and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. But, for a change, I’d like to see an emphasis on acting truthfully, not just singing beautifully. I’ve seen a handful of Tevyes, but only one whose spoken word moved me as much as his singing. When I go to the theatre, I don’t just want to feel, I want to think. I like to see theatre that asks daring questions and gives difficult answers. In 2013, I want to be moved and I want to be taught.
—Michael Johnson, guest blogger
Rather than specific shows, my wish is for greater collaborations across companies and with other organizations. Plan-B Theatre does a great job of working with non-theatre groups to promote every show on their season. I think this is effective in bringing new audiences into the theater. I wish that theatre companies would collaborate with the Utah Office of Tourism and hotels to let out-of-towners know about live shows are playing when during their visit.
—Russell Warne, UTBA staff
My only wish for 2013 is for lower ticket prices (or a bucket of money), so I can see more shows. There were too many productions I watched pass me by, such as Martyrs’ Crossing at the Echo Theatre and Utah Shakepeare Festival’s Hamlet.
—Amber Peck, UTBA staff
I would like to see more theaters and companies producing shows that mean something. Shows that mean something to the director, to the community, to the actors, or to the patrons (although probably not simultaneously). I think the audience can feel a difference between “commercial” theater—the shows chosen because they will keep the theater in business—and the productions that have real heart. I’d like to experience as much heart as possible.
—Andrea Fife, guest blogger
My wish for Utah theatre is new names, new productions and new ideas. I’d like to see shows that are new or not done often. I’d like to see them created and performed by people who are new to Utah theatre. And I’d like to see shows that examine new and difficult topics.
—Elizabeth Oppelt, guest blogger
I absolutely loved Pete Miller’s blog post on 2AMT about tripling playgoing by 2020. I’m going to band with him and say that next year I’d like to see our Utah theatre community make specific strides in diversifying theatre production, reinventing theatre marketing, and creating playgoing as a hobby. In my 3 years with the UTBA I’ve seen small steps in each of these. Utah, as a whole, can become a national theatre leader. We don’t have to ride on the coattails of only a few organizations. Here’s to taking another leap forward!
—Dave Mortensen, UTBA Staff
Now that you’ve read our wishes, what are yours? What do you want to see the Utah theatre community do on stage and behind the scenes? We want to know what you wish for when you think about all the theatre around the state. Leave a comment below.