Utah County had a lot of good choices this year for drama buffs and first-timers.
Without leaving the area, one could catch a Broadway production the "CATS'" meow maybe or a show just newly released for the community stage like "Aida"?
Favorites such as "Barefoot in the Park" and "Arsenic and Old Lace" proved to be venerable shows that coincidentally both starred Barta Heiner. BYU's rendition of "Arsenic" was particularly stunning in presentation, costuming, setting and acting.
Provo Theatre Company did a masterful job with "The Secret Garden."
The SCERA proved itself capable of delight in "Peter Pan" with its innovative set and remarkable children. Tinkerbell a real child instead of a twinkling light was fun.
The addition of flying made it terrific.
Hale Center's "You Can't Take it With You" and "Thank You Papa" were pleasant to watch while "Footloose" really kicked things up a notch.
"Wait Until Dark" was spooky without being frightening, thank goodness.
Kudos to Utah Valley Stage College's original version of "The Tempest" in the Black Box Theater. This production actually was a "masque within a masque."
When deciding the best and worst I have seen this year (10 productions in all), my choices were based on the overall production, acting, technical, staging etc. The very best production from my list of reviews has to go to "Angels Unaware: A Story of Joan of Arc," produced at Brigham Young University. It was a magnificent production from the sets and costumes to actors and script.
Coming in second is Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing," produced by Provo Theater Company. Shakespeare was never more fun and entertaining. Third place is filled by "Peter Pan" one of the summer productions of SCERA Shell's Outdoor Season. It almost made you think you could fly.
There were also several outstanding productions specifically for children. They include "The Boxcar Children," produced at BYU; "Go Dog Go," at the SCERA with a cast of musical theater students from Utah Valley State College; and "The Stinky Cheese Man and other Fairly Stupid Tales," a Theatre for
Young Audiences program at the SCERA.
My vote for worst production sadly is "The Red Badge of Courage," also produced at the SCERA, which lacked passion, had technical problems and moved like molasses. The best I could say was the costumes and guns were authentic.
Early in the year student performers at BYU put on an outstanding show in "Aida." Modern elements, such as sunglasses, or "shades" juxtaposed the ancient setting.
"Cinderella" became an exciting, comedic musical performance from the moment Shawn Mortenson sang his first note at the SCERA Center for the Arts. The play was a cartoon with exaggeration in big noses, big hair, big makeup, colorful costumes and over-the-top acting along with the wonderful Rodgers and Hammerstein score.
Summer brought "My Fair Lady" to the SCERA Shell Amphitheater. A "loverly" performance, it was, nonetheless, a bit salty. The live musical was more in character to playwright George Bernard Shaw's work, which dripped with sexual tension as Eliza Doolittle learns to become a lady, while her tutor learns how to treat one.
In August the Payson Community Theater presentation of the Broadway hit "Cats" was a visual treat.
Then in October BYU's Young Company Shakespeare Troupe put on a shortened version of William Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" with the younger audience in mind. However, the language and poetry of the 15th century remained to expose youngsters to the Bard.
Finally, BYU's "The Foreigner" was bizarre to the core, but that's what gave this comedy its charm. A crazy script, but an excellent performance.
Rodger L. Hardy