Thursday, August 22, 2013

Carousel: Utah Repertory Theater Company

What happens when you write a theater review, then assume you have clicked "save" in your late-night delirium, only to realize "save" is the opposite of what happened?  And you have to get out wedding invitations to 300?  And a dear friend recently passed away?  Folks, it has been quite a whirlwind these past few days. 

I have many thoughts on Utah Repertory Theater Company's production of Carousel, yet am unable to recreate the glamor of my original writing in a quick manner.  Carousel closes this weekend, so I want to get some notes up.  I will edit this post as soon as I can to more accurately reflect my thoughts. 


  • Live Orchestra!
  • Beautiful male silks worker - acrobatics on silks hanging from the ceiling ala Cirque du Soleil
  • The opening scene began with a stark stage, then gradually added in more color and life until all of a sudden you realize you are in the middle of a carnival - absolutely magnificent staging and pacing - this climaxes when the actors finally begin to speak, and then the crowd slowly dissipates until the scene is focused once again on the main characters
  • Speaking of staging - the "Human carousel" makes several appearances and I love the idea
  • Amber Lee Roberts as Julie Jordan is quite striking in both sweetness, stage presence, and cheek bones.
  • When Mimi West as Carrie Pipperidge sang "Mr. Snow" I felt as if I were being drawn into a story two old girlfriends were sharing with each other instead of just watching an artist sing a song.  Mimi also has an incredible trained singing voice.  
  • When Roberts and Samuel Ross West as Billy Bigelow share their first kiss?  Yowzas - now that's a kiss!
  •  June IS bustin' out all over - what a large cast!  They produced a perfect group sound that truly made me feel the excitement of a community preparing for their favorite event of the year.
  • Scott Cluff as Mr. Snow has a beautiful singing voice and is definitely one the women will realize why Ms. Pipperidge is swooning over.  He has an adorable chemistry with Mimi.
  • I'm not stranger to community theater and I have one big question - where did they get all of these amazingly talented men?!  They all sing AND dance with much more adequacy than I expected!  Great job, men!
  • Eve Speer as Mrs. Mullin has some amazing costumes! Especially the red and black number as her second costume - very striking - great work there!  Also, Speer had stage presence you can't ignore if you try.  When she's on stage, all eyes are on her.
  • Elsa Hodder as Louise - h.o.l.y. c.o.w.  What a dancer!  She actually looks like the child of Julie and Billy, dances and acts like a seasoned pro, and all at the age of 14.  Holy smokes I only wish I'd been half as talented as her at 14.  She performs a beautiful dance at the beginning of act two and her partner, whose name escapes me, is tremendous as well - beautiful lifts, jumps, balance, coordination...she's going places!
  • Roberts, as Julie Jordan, shed actual tears at the end of the show.  I could see the light glistening from them.  I appreciate an actress who is able to so fully immerse herself in her work that she emotes as her character.  Well done.
  • Kyle Allen, as villain Jigger Craigin was not wearing a microphone and sounded great - his evilness and sound did not need a mic to project to the audience members.
  • All-in-all this is a beautiful production!  The sparse feel of the Murray Theater lends itself to the atmosphere of the show. The ending of the show is somber, the message of the show can be seen many different ways, most of which is not "I hit you because I love you."  The point, to me, is that we can be forgiven for our mistakes and life can still produce beauty.  Don't let the dark nature of the storyline distort your appreciation of the beautiful performances. I was previously told this is the best show Utah Rep has performed to date and I whole-heartedly agree with that statement.  
  • If you are an appreciator of the classic's of Rodgers and Hammerstein, you will love this production, hands-down. 
  • At the very beginning of the show, many of the faces are lost in the shadows, although I later realized this may have been intentional to show the starkness of the facility where the girls work.
  • Due to the venue, there is an echo in a lot of the sound from those wearing mic's.
  • The mics caused some of the voices to be muffled.  Unfortunately the beautiful voice of Samuel Ross West, as Billy, was the main voice on which we lost quality.  This is a such a terrible shame because West has a tremendous voice of which you want to hear every nuance. I've seen him perform previously and knew what I was missing.  The venue is difficult to work with mics in and I was assured the performance I attended was the first time his mic malfunctioned.
  • When Mr. Snow and Ms. Pipperidge argue, his reaction is so melodramatic, I thought I was missing a joke somewhere and it seemed rather out of place.  You do immediately know they'll end up together because he doesn't seem genuinely upset, I, and my company, found this a rather odd character choice, although charmingly funny.
  • My partner in crime for the evening suggested the program listing the bios should be arranged in order of leading characters, not in alphabetical order of actor's names.  He found it confusing to have to look up the actor's name in the front of the program, then flip to the bio section to find their bio alphabetically.  We know the character name, not the actor's name.  This did not bother me so much - I think it's a matter of personal preference.  
My sincerest apologies to the cast and pro team, mostly Johnny Hebda, for the delayed nature of this post.  Life, as displayed in Carousel, throws many unexpected turns.  

Catch the show!  Purchase tickets here or at the door. 
Friday August 23rd at 7:30 pm
Saturday August 24th at 2:00pm
Saturday August 25th at 7:30pm

1 comment:

Janell said...

Often your reviews make me wish I could go out and visit Utah :)

Once upon a time someone asked me how many wedding announcements I was sending out. "About 300," I replied. The shocked response, "That few!" I'd thought it was a huge amount.