Author: Tony Porter

“Menagerie” should be savored and enjoyed

SALT LAKE CITY — March 26, 2011 marks the 100th anniversary of Tennessee Williams’ birth.  Salt Lake Community College’s The Grand Theatre is commemorating this by presenting The Glass Menagerie, Williams’ first major success.  The play is said to be based loosely on Williams’ life with the main characters being based on himself, his mother and sister. Tom Wingfield, based on Williams himself, introduces the characters of this “memory play.”  They are Amanda, Tom’s mother and former genteel southern belle; Laura, his crippled older sister, who dropped out of school and has no prospects for her future; Tom, himself, who is frustrated with his life and job at a shoe warehouse and dreams of a more adventurous life, and Jim O’Connor, a co-worker of Tom’s who comes as an unknowing “gentleman caller.”  The final character in the play is never seen – Mr. Wingfield who left the family years ago with only a single postcard since. I must preface this review by stating that this is the first Tennessee William’s play I have ever seen.  I have seen a movie adaptation of this play long ago on television with Sam Waterston and Katherine Hepburn, but have not seen any other of his works or read any in any literature class, so I come to this a neophyte.  My previous knowledge of William’s plays pretty much consisted of the belief...

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A “Meeting” Worth Attending

WEST VALLEY — The Meeting is a one-act play by Jeff Stetson that depicts the supposed clandestine meeting between two of the greatest leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. The play is set in a room in Harlem’s historic Hotel Theresa in February during the time just after the 1965 burning of Malcolm X’s home. Differing in their philosophies, nonviolence versus aggressive separatism, but alike in their mutual respect, the two men debate their varying approaches to the same grave social problems. This play marks the inaugural production of the EttaGrace Black Theatre Company and is one of which they can be rightly proud. Director and co-founder Melissa Adams has done a wonderful job of bringing this play to the stage. A one-act play with three actors and a small set can stagnate very easily, but this show keeps the action moving. The interaction between the characters is natural and genuine. The cast is first rate. Lonzo Liggins as Malcolm X is a commanding presence. His portrayal is confident and secure. He conveys Malcolm X’s anger and drive for a radical solution to the issue of race in America. The conviction that only meeting violence with violence will bring about the change that is needed is palpable. In contrast, Terrence S. Johnson’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a much calmer...

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“Greater Tuna” is a Great Evening of Theater

SALT LAKE CITY — Greater Tuna by Jaston Williams, Joe Sears, and Ed Howard, is a comedic gem. The play is a two-man tour de force that explores one day in the life of Tuna, the third smallest town in Texas. And as produced by Wasatch Theater Company at Rose Wagner Studio Theater, is a great night of theater. The action begins, as every day in Tuna does, with Arles Struvie and Thurston Wheelis broadcasting from the 275-watt station OKKK. That is, when they remember to turn the transmitter on. From that point on we are treated to 20 of the most eccentric characters that reside in Tuna. From Bertha Bumiller, a card carrying member of the Smut Snatchers of the New Order, to Petey Fisk, devoted employee of the Greater Tuna Humane Society, and Didi Snavely, owner of Didi’s Used Weapons, whose motto is “If we can’t kill it, it’s immortal,” we see a snapshot of small town life in the south. To give a thorough plot synopsis is to give away too many of the gems of the play. The residents of Tuna are an odd mix of prejudices and preconceptions. However, for someone who grew up in a small town, they ring surprisingly true. Small towns are an interesting breeding ground for gossip, where everyone knows the business of everyone else in town. The authors capture this...

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“A Christmas Carol” sings in Centerville

CENTERVILLE — At this season of the year, it is nearly impossible not to run head-long into a version of A Christmas Carol. Many theater companes in the country (if not the English-speaking world) do one version or another of this show at this time of year. In the Salt Lake Area there are probably more versions being done than you can count. Now, I have no problem with this. A Christmas Carol is one of my favorite books, and the story of one man’s redemption from his miserly ways is endearing and very moving. I can quote lines from the book by heart. So it was with great anticipation that I went to see Rodgers Memorial Theater’s production of Madison Square Garden’s A Christmas Carol, The Musical. This version has a book adapted by Mike Ockrent and Lynn Aherns, with music by Alan Menken (of Disney animation fame) and lyrics by Lynn Aherns. All are Broadway veterans with many notable shows to their credits. The show is almost entirely sung, with relatively few spoken lines, which allows Menken’s gift for melody and creativity to really shine. The ghosts are presented first to Scrooge in ordinary real-world settings before they become ghosts. I like this juxtaposition of the real world and the spiritual in the story. The visit of Jacob Marley becomes a “chorus line of the damned” with...

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