J. Golden Kimball is back - or so it really seems. I've seen it before, but Dalin Christiansen puts on one heck of a show in "J. Golden," playing through June 14 at Backstage Cafe in dinner theater, non-alcoholic cocktail shows and family-style performances.
For those who somehow missed hearing about the LDS general authority who was almost a legend in his own time, Kimball was known for his colorful language ("leftovers from my cowboy days"), down-to-earth sermons, and the way he related to common, ordinary people. He was less than perfect and said so - often.He also personally knew every LDS prophet from Brigham Young to Spencer W. Kimball.
James Arrington's wonderful script is probably the most accurate accounting of Kimball's quotes yet, although so common were the tales about him that a few may have endured as folk history, the playwright admits. But part of the appeal of this show is the way the character seeks to replace fiction with fact as he looks back over his long life.
Christiansen is so comfortable and credible in the role, it's hard to think of him acting. From the moment he totters onto the stage, squints his eyes and peers through spectacles, scratches his ear, and says in a shrill voice, "Good evenin', brothers and sisters," he is J. Golden Kimball.
From then on, it's nearly two hours of amusing anecdotes, inspirational stories, thoughtful wisdom and testimony from the man who was a most popular general authority in the early part of this century. And Christiansen is such a pro that he can ad lib with members of the audience and return to the script without batting an eye.
Kimball's philosophy was, "A laugh is worth a hundred groans in any market" - particularly when trying to get a congregation to listen and change their ways. There are more than a few laughs in this portrayal, too, along with some serious moments.
"J. Golden" is entertainment, yes, but more than that, it's an insightful look at the man and his times - and well worth seeing more than once.