WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah — Preparations for a blissful wedding involve invitations, flowers, photos, the cake, refreshments and, of course, the wedding dress. And who must pay for it all, while struggling with losing his daughter to a man he barely knows?
The father of the bride.
Hale Centre Theatre cordially invites you to “The Father of the Bride,” a play about all the chaos and comedy of a family planning their eldest daughter’s wedding. But what was “a small family wedding” threatens to grow huge and then spirals out of control.
At the center of the wedding whirlwind is Stanley Banks, showing equal parts of bemusement and dread. Seemingly out of nowhere, his daughter Kay’s engagement is announced to a man Mr. Banks can only remember as “a pair of shoulders.”
“The play makes fun of all of the trappings of what a wedding requires. Of course, it’s not against marriage; it’s anti big, elaborate wedding,” says John Adams, director of the Hale Centre Theatre production.
“Amid all the hassle that the wedding starts to become, we have Mr. Banks, who is a good man on a very bad day.”
“The Father of the Bride” began as a 1949 comic novel by humorist Edward Streeter. The book was instantly successful and included in the New York Times list of bestselling novels of the year.
“The book was so popular that the MGM movie studio bought the book very quickly and almost as quickly made it into a movie,” Adams says.
The big-screen adaptation in 1950 was directed by Vincente Minnelli and starred Spencer Tracy in the titular role and a young Elizabeth Taylor as Kay. Widely critically praised, the film was nominated for Best Screenplay, Best Actor and Best Picture Academy Award honors. A 1991 remake, starring Steve Martin, followed but was less successful with Oscar, while earning $15 million on its debut.
As an indication of the enduring popularity of “The Father of the Bride,” Adams cites a musical stage version under development by Disney Theatrical Productions that will be directed by Tony-winner Bartlett Sher.
“As long as we have families, people will be interested in what goes on in a family,” Adams says. “Nothing is more rarefied than the time when a family member is getting married. It’s a very different time, a fun time, a difficult time. People like to see the variations of what they’ve gone through themselves.”
The often-produced 1998 play was not based on either of the films, but playwright Caroline Francke returned to the book for her stage adaptation.
“The Father of the Bride” returns to Hale Centre Theatre after being selected as an “audience favorite” in a survey of theatergoers, and this is the second production Adams has helmed after his 1993 staging at the Hale.
“It’s a sweet comedy, a little light fare, that audiences are sure to enjoy,” Adams says.
If you go:
What: “The Father of the Bride”
Where: Hale Centre Theatre, West Valley City
When: April 17-May 26
How much: $24-$15
Tickets: 801-984-9000 or www.halecentretheatre.org