Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
With a history over 50 years long, it may be hard to believe that there are still some plays that have not been produced by Pioneer Theatre Company. The 2013-14 season, however, is chock full of plays that are being tackled by PTC for the first time.
"What excites me the most about the season, and I hope it excites our audience as well, is that, with the exception of 'Much Ado About Nothing,' which we did 21 years ago, all of the shows in the season have never been done at Pioneer Theatre Company before," said Karen Azenberg, who's in her second season as PTC's artistic director.
"What's been so wonderful about this market is that people are passionate about what they like and what they want to see," she said. "My job then is to try to give them some of what they are passionate about and then try to push them a little bit to try something else that may be a little different than they're expecting."
'SOMETHING'S AFOOT' — Sept. 20-Oct. 5 - A good, old-fashioned whodunit rolled up with a good, old fashioned musical comedy, this is a loving send-up to murder mysteries, most notably Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None." "It isn't really campy but it is fun and kind of silly," Azenberg said. "So while people are getting knocked off right and left, it isn't really scary — it's so much fun. I just think it's a little gem that hasn't been discovered."
'OTHER DESERT CITIES' — Oct. 25-Nov. 9 - "This played on Broadway last season," Azenberg said. "Honestly, if it weren't in the same year as 'Clybourne Park' it would have won everything. It's so smart, so well-written, so theatrical." Set in California in the '60s, the play centers on a family with differing political viewpoints and two members who want to reveal a deep family secret. The play was a runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 2011.
'ELF - THE MUSICAL' — Dec. 6-24 - The musical adaptation of the popular Will Ferrell film will have its regional debut in Salt Lake. "Tuacahn has it and we do. And that's it. It has not been released to anyone else," Azenberg said. "I think it speaks to the enthusiasm that this state and community have for family-friendly holiday musicals." The musical stays pretty true to the movie plot with Buddy the Elf realizing he's not really an elf and heading off to New York City, bringing the Christmas spirit. "I found it charming. I found it absolutely charming."
'A FEW GOOD MEN' — Jan. 24-Feb. 8 - "It was a play first," Azenberg joked, also nothing that the famous "You can't handle the truth" line is in the play. "It's (a) very, very similar script to the movie, more so than you usually see in these adaptations," she said. The play was written by Aaron Sorkin, before he went on to pen "The West Wing," "An American President," "The Social Network" and "Moneyball." "If you are very familiar with the movie you will be very familiar with the play and it will sound similar," Azenberg said.
'MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING' — Feb. 21-March 8 - One of Shakespeare's comedies, "Much Ado" is about two couples and their up-and-down journeys to love. "It's a lovely romantic comedy by Shakespeare, who was writing romantic comedies before that expression was even coined," Azenberg said. "The wonderful thing about 'Much Ado' is it's just a great story. It's a great intro to Shakespeare. You'll find it entertaining."
'DEATHTRAP' — March 28-April 12 - "Again, it's never been done here and I'm shocked," Azenberg said. Written by Ira Levin ("Stepford Wives"), this play within a play holds the record for the longest-running comedy-thriller on Broadway. It was also nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play in 1978. "It has such great twists and turns," Azenberg said. "I know what's coming next and I still go 'ahh!' when I see it."
'SWEET CHARITY' — May 9-24 - This musical opened on Broadway in 1966 and received 12 Tony Award nominations. With the legendary Bob Fosse at the helm, the show features some knockout dance numbers and includes well-known songs like "If My Friends Could See Me Now" and "Big Spender." "One of the things I wanted to do when I came to PTC was step up the dance element in the musicals a little bit," Azenberg said. "Obviously this is a huge dance show and it really combines singing, dancing and acting in an exciting way. And you'll recognize the songs."
With her first year as artistic director under her belt, Azenberg is excited to move forward. "My first year has made me more excited for the second," she said. "I feel very welcome and I feel like the community is rooting for me and for the theater and for theater in general and that's such a wonderful thing and I'm so grateful to be a part of that and to keep it exciting for the audience and for myself."
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