Author: Elise Hanson-Barnett

Grassroots’s RICHARD III is a bloody good time

PROVO — Take bucket loads of talent (and blood), bushels of fun (and blood), and . . . well, blood, and you’ve got Grassroots Shakespeare Company’s Richard III. The Bard gets proper treatment in the hands of these players in Provo, who masterfully stir up a wickedly rambunctious take on Shakespeare’s historical tale of the Duke who schemes, seduces, and murders his way onto England’s throne. Grassroots presents Shakespeare the way it was intended, with minimal staging, little rehearsal, no director, and a great homespun feel. The audience is encouraged to be rowdy, talking back to the actors on stage,...

Read More

OBT presents Y-LIGHT, a parody of Twilight

SALT LAKE CITY — Known for their light-hearted, family-friendly parodies, the Off Broadway Theater in downtown Salt Lake is putting on one of their famously farcical Halloween productions, starring that prince of darkness himself, Count Dracula, as played for the 21st time by Eric Jensen. In this particular play, entitled Y-light, Dracula is pitted against another popular vampire in today’s culture, Edmund Sullen. The Count is at first pleased to discover that vampires are once again revered in the public eye, but is disgusted to discover that Edmund’s story is a sappy romance, full of vampires that don’t drink human blood,...

Read More

Get sucked into Neil Simon’s CHAPTER TWO

SALT LAKE CITY — There is something to be said for an excellent playwright. His words entertain, captivate, and get us to tune in to our emotions. Add to that a group of talented, skilled actors, and what you get is a lovely evening at the theater. Neil Simon‘s play Chapter Two tells the story of two people: one is a man named George, who has recently lost his wife Barbara due to illness, and is grieving her death. The other is Jennie, a woman whose unhappy marriage to a man named Gus has ended after six years. Both people are trying to come to terms with starting from scratch, and, through their friends who are determined to see the two happy again, the pair meet and begin a whirlwind romance. What Neil Simon is most skilled at is mingling humor in with real-life drama. I felt myself sucked into the lives of George, Jennie, Faye, and Leo almost as if I knew them. The words were so real and some struck so close to home that I even found myself tearing up at one point. In the role of George was Brian Pilling, whose portrayal of the grieving widower was graceful and emotional, and very well-handled. He slipped in and out of the lighter to more dramatic moments with the skill of an experienced actor, which was very refreshing...

Read More

Valley Center Playhouse presents MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING

LINDON — Benedick and Beatrice absolutely can’t abide one another. They hardly meet, but there is a “skirmish of wit” between them. So what happens when their friends and relatives conspire to make the pair fall madly in love with one another? Much Ado About Nothing is one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays, so much so that one can be assured that if they have never seen it, a production will most likely be in play within the year somewhere in their vicinity. The play is a funny one, and I would recommend seeing it at some point in your life....

Read More

THE HOBBIT gives you puppets, and dragons, and Gollum, oh my!

SPRINGVILLE — It’s a simple story: a mild-mannered hobbit by the name of Bilbo Baggins, who spends his days lying in the sun by his hobbit hole, dreaming of his next meal, is commissioned one day by a certain wizard called Gandalf the Grey to go on an adventure with some temperamental dwarves in search for some long-since stolen treasure. Over and under mountains they go, through forests and rivers, finally reaching their destination: the Lonely Mountain, wherein resides the dread dragon Smaug, who hoards the treasure that rightfully belongs to the dwarves. Along the way, Bilbo runs into a strange creature called Gollum, and becomes the owner of a most extraordinary ring. It was a story J.R.R. Tolkien meant for children, and this play, directed by Brian Randall and adapted by Markland Taylor, honors that intention. This bread-and-butter fantasy tale is broken down to its simplest form, eliminating many characters and unnecessary prose to tell the story in a way that children can understand and enjoy. The play was staged simply in a small space, with a two-dimensional mountain range the only backdrop for most of the action. The real set decoration came in the form of the puppets themselves, which were carefully crafted by Caitlin Shirts. I’ve never been much of a puppet person, but I enjoyed the Japanese Bunraku style in which the puppets were handled,...

Read More

Let’s Chat