Author: Lorelie Sander

Empress is Alive with "The Sound of Music"

MAGNA — Putting on an acceptable stage production of what is arguably the best-known musical of all time is a tall order, but The Empress Theatre’s production of The Sound of Music, directed by Susan Whitenight, pulled it off beautifully. Loosely based on the real-life von Trapp family, this extraordinary story has as its backdrop a dark time in Austrian history. Maria, a problematic nun who loves to sing, is sent to be the governess of the widowed Captain von Trapp’s seven children shortly before the anschluss (German occupation and annexation of Austria just prior to WW II). Though there are definitely some sobering undertones, there is a harmonious blend of seriousness, warmth, romance, humor, and sentimentality. In addition to “raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens,” these were a few of my favorite things: The exceptional cast, the majority of whom were young performers ranging from elementary school to high school students. The cast was fairly large for the size of the theater, even with many of the actors playing two parts. I’m sure there had to be a lot of scrambling going on backstage as cast members switched costumes and characters from one scene to the next, but everyone seemed well-rehearsed as there were no obvious mistakes in placement or choreography. Most outstanding were the von Trapp children (Amanda Whitaker, Hayden Hill, Reeve Sikalis, Tyler Rowe, Melina Wrathall, Emma Beaird, and...

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‘Death…The Final Frontier…May the Corpse Be With You’

MIDVALE — All I knew going into Death…The Final Frontier…May the Corpse Be With You was that it was a comedy and dinner would be served.  I ended up getting a lot more than a few laughs and a meal; I got to be part of an adventure. It began the moment I stepped away from the ticket counter and was greeted by Captain Dave (Andrew Lenz), the charismatic and philandering leader of the Galactic Alliance.  He welcomed me to the galaxy using a lot of space terminology, confiscated my “communication device” (a cell phone—which I happened to be using at the time), and warned me about the perils of asteroid attacks.  He also hit on at least five other women, inviting each of them to a private tour of his quarters, all while welcoming me and taking over my phone call. And so the laughter began. Instead of just watching the show, you can be part of the show, every step of the way.  As a delegate from an alien planet you will meet with members of the Alliance aboard the  Death Star Mark III to determine the fate of the universe.  No labyrinthian plot here—just a the typical murder mystery.  You know there will be a murder and it will be your job to determine who did and why, but the villain isn’t as obvious as you might think.  Could it be Klaa’tookie (Criss Rosenlof), the skilled and experience warrior? Soola...

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‘Jonah and the Great Fish’ floods the stage with great tunes and a lot of humor

OREM — The inspiration behind Michael Jackson’s Thriller or the dueling gangs of West Side Story just might have been a talented and energetic group of dancers from the ancient city of Ninevah. No, you didn’t miss that part of the well-known Bible story, it was just one of the many entertaining little additions Director Dennis Angle wove into his retelling of the story in Jonah and the Great Fish.

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