Author: Amber Peck

WOMEN IN JEOPARDY! is a pleasant comedy, but only half a play

SALT LAKE CITY — A trio of women are having their regular girl’s night interrupted by the introduction of one member’s new “lover.” Jackson is his name, and, even though he oozes creepiness, the bubbly blonde Liz is giddy in love. Her two friends Mary and Jo understandably dislike him, and naturally begin to see connections between this predatory boyfriend and his recently abducted co-worker. When their warnings to Liz are rejected, Mary and Jo find some support to keep their friend safe. Women in Jeopardy!, written by Wendy Macleod and produced by Pioneer Theater Company, made a strong comedic impression on...

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UTBA reviewers sound off: Excellence in 2016

The social media consensus is that 2016 was a rough year for America. With a surplus of celebrity deaths and a chaotic presidential election, many people are ready to put 2016 behind them. But the Utah theatre community had a great year, with wonderful productions across the entire length of the state. As we do every year, we asked our reviewers and staff members to tell us what excellent productions they saw this year in Utah. Here are the shows that stuck in their minds weeks or months later. Excellent Professional (Equity) Productions Being the only Tony Award winning...

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An endearing match in Utah Shakespeare Fest’s MUCH ADO

CEDAR CITY — Some of my very best friends have been people whom I initially didn’t like at all. For whatever reason, I doubted I would ever esteem that particular person. But time would pass, pride would soften, and luckily, I’d have to eat my words and accept that new friend. Based on those experiences, I completely understand when Beatrice (played by Kim Martin-Cotten) and Benedick (played by Ben Livingston), in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, trade in their fighting for affection. Benedick makes a good point when he asks, “Do not appetites change?” It was both sweet and...

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CEDAR CITY — As he reaches adulthood, a countryman named D’Artagnan leaves home with the aspiration of becoming a musketeer. Luigi Sottile plays D’Artagnan in The Three Musketeers at this summer’s Utah Shakespeare Festival, and he establishes his character as a proud and passionate young man with potential to do good in contrast to the apathetic existing musketeers (Athos, Porthos, and Aramis). After he inadvertently offends each of them, and then befriends them, D’Artagnan seems to invigorate the musketeers a bit. I dared to hope that these four together would be something worth admiring; but sadly, this was not the case. Although...

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You can’t stop the beat of Pickleville’s HAIRSPRAY

GARDEN CITY — Being a teenager is a tough job. In high school, most of us wanted a lot of things: we wanted to belong, be liked, have friends, freedom, and we really really wanted that one special guy or girl to notice us. A lot of these desires don’t go away just because we grow up; everybody wants to be loved and accepted. In Hairspray, a musical set in the 1960s (with music by Marc Shaiman and lyrics by Shaiman and Scott Wittman), a teenager named Tracy Turnblad deals with these same challenges. She doesn’t fit in to the typical cool crowd, and she’s always getting into trouble at school. But she finds that by being herself she can still get what she wants out of life and help others do the same. Tracy’s story is being brought to life this summer at the Pickleville Playhouse, and the lead role belongs to Kenzie Davis. Kenzie is a talented performer and I’ve seen her in several roles at Pickleville. But I was so pleased to see what she did with this character. Kenzie Davis’ Tracy has an innocent sweetness and a generous helping of soul. Her attitude toward inequality was matter-of-fact, optimistically determined. She gave me chills during tender moments and made me laugh with her gigantic personality. Pickleville’s duo of Tracy and Penny was perfect; I didn’t want...

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