Tag: theater

Hale Center Theater

Last night I had the great opportunity to go to one of our amazing local theater companies Hale Center Theater Orem to see their production of In the Heights.  This is a show I had never seen before and was fairly unfamiliar with the songs and storyline (I had 4 of the songs on my ipod but had never listened to the complete soundtrack).   I love seeing shows that are classics that I know I will love but it is also fun to see something totally new and unexpected.

Anna and me at Hale Theater Orem In the Heights.
Anna and me at Hale Theater Orem In the Heights.

In the Heights is also different because it mixes hip hop with broadway in a way I’ve never seen before.  Here is a clip from the Tony performance when it won best new musical

It was a little bit more adult than what I’ve seen at Hale before but still at a PG-13 level for sure . I have mentioned Hale Theaters several times on this blog but I don’t think I’ve ever profiled them on an exclusive post.

There are 2 Hale theaters in Utah, one in West Valley (soon to be Sandy) and in Orem.  The theater in West Valley is larger and has a million dollar stage that can move around and provide some pretty amazing special effects.

hale_centre_theatre

Hale Orem is smaller (i couldn’t find a good photo of that stage) without the fancy special effects but it is equally compelling and intimate.  In fact, on some productions I think smaller is better (I tend to feel that way about The Christmas Carol where the special effects and excessive fog machine at Hale West Valley can be a little much).  It can also force Hale Orem to be very creative in the small space as in I think the Secret Garden where they moved door frames around to show a chase in a large manor.

Both of Hale theaters are theater in the round.  where the seats are pointed down at the stage instead of staring up in an auditorium like a traditional play.  This has an immersive feel that allows the audience member to be surrounded by the performance and to have a good seat from anywhere in the theater.

So they are good with the theaters but then the Hale’s make things extra special with wonderful talent and show choices.  I’m amazed with how great the talent is especially considering that most of the performers are volunteers doing it for the joy of it not as a full time job.  I really think that either Hale theater should be considered for the Tony Regional Theater Award.  The Utah Shakespeare festival won that award and Hale Theaters are equally worthy.

Here’s some idea of what you see at both theaters:

I hope that gives you a feel for the quality of the shows.  I’ve seen so many shows at both that it is hard to remember everything but here are some that come to mind

Hale West Valley:

Scarlet Pimpernell

My Fair Lady

Annie Get Your Gun

Zorro: The Musical (world premiere)

Once on this Island

Aida

The Wedding Singer

Secret Garden

Hale Center Theater Orem:  (I take voice lessons from them so I am a bit partial)

Hairspray

Secret Garden (a favorite of mine)

Beauty and the Beast

West Side Story

All Shook Up

Spitfire Grill

South Pacific

Crazy for You

39 Steps

Drowsy Chaperone

Singing in the Rain

Anyway, that gives you an idea of the range and quality.  It is often as good if not better than anything I’ve seen on broadway and to make it even better most of the shows are under $20 and family friendly.  It is a true blessing of living in Utah, so if you don’t go to see their shows you are really missing out.

My only comment to them would be it would be nice if they had more variety in their selection of plays.  Between the two theaters they have done Arsenic and Old Lace, Lend me a Tenor, The Foreigner, Curious Savage, Hasty Heart and No Time for Sergeants multiple times and as frequent attendees of both theaters I don’t want to get season tickets to shows I’ve just seen.  Particularly glaring is when it is done just a year after the other theater did it.  For example, Hale Orem did the 39 steps one year and Hale West Valley did it the year after that.  Or last year Arsenic and Old Lace (a particular favorite for this area I’m not sure why?) was done by Orem and now it is on the docket for next year in West Valley.

I understand the 2 companies are different businesses but as a business you should look at your competition and try to pick new and exciting material and not just for your musicals.  I am sure it is tough to find clean and appropriate plays for a budget but I’m sure there are more out there than the repeats.

I can only think of a few misses with Hale.  Last years Game’s Afoot was a huge disappointment.  The ads made you think it was a play about Sherlock Holmes.  In truth it was a lame farce about actors who played Sherlock Holmes.  It also didn’t have the professional acting I expect with Hale.  Lines were dropped and performances were clownish. Still, it was a rare miss.

I also look forward every year to seeing The Christmas Carol (one I don’t mind repeating!) every year at one or sometimes both of the Hale theaters.  The man who plays Scrooge at Hale Theater Orem is amazing and has been doing it for decades.  Its really an act of generosity to give so much of your time to the community during the holidays.  It makes Christmas for me and I wouldn’t miss it!

So, if you haven’t seen a show at Hale Theater, go!  And if you need someone to go with, call me!

hcto_logo_foundation_tag hale-center-theatre-logo

Advertisements

Outside the Utah Box

I don’t know about you but I’m always looking for something outside the box.  Something different, unique, and fun (and right now, cheap!).  Knowing NaMo is coming up I particularly wanted to fill this weekend up with a lot of experiences, make it jammed packed!  (I’m going to be starting at a screen for probably 12 hours a day including work and NaMo so got to be careful to keep my sanity as I write.

It all started on Thursday I met my friends Emilee and Rachel M for a silent movie at the Edison Street Events.  It was a really unique place.  A traditional Wurlitzer theater organ that was originally built around a chicken coop and then expanded.  The building is obscure and hidden away and I’m not sure how I heard of it but they were doing a screening of Phantom of the Opera (1925 version) with live organist.  This is not an ordinary organ but literally the pipes completely surround the room.  The keys are different too with sound effects such as drums and screams that are not in a normal organ.  The screen is small but I was completely immersed.  The organist was AMAZING!  and never missed a beat of synchronization with the movie.   He also included sections of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical which was a lot of fun.

I will definitely go back.  Next up they have a Harold Lloyd screening, followed by Laurel and Hardy.  So great!.

http://www.edisonstreetevents.com/silent-movies/

On Friday I continued the fun (btw I worked 53 hours last week so it was not a complete fun ride…) by going to see my friend Etsuko’s Middle Eastern Dance recital.  I am the worst dancer ever and I am not saying that to be modest.  I really have almost no natural sense of rhythm or timing.  Because I am so bad I appreciate anyone who is willing to dance in public and perform.  I would never have the guts.

The recital was gorgeous and exciting with sword balancing, belly dancing and hip moving.  I have never seen that kind of dance so that made it more fun.

3rd person from right is Etsuko.
They had some professionals there along with the students and they were pretty great

After the recital I went over to my sisters and we decided to go to a movie.  Its funny because we are both movie goers yet have not been to a movie together in over a year! Crazy how that happens.  I had been telling her about Perks of Being a Wallflower because I knew she would love it, so we went and saw and no surprise she loved it.  ( I was so sure that I bet $100 she’d like it! Good thing I got to keep my $100).

It is not a movie for everyone because of its darker elements but I’ve seen it twice and loved it more the second time.  The characters are so well developed.  They feel so authentic, like I can actually picture people I knew in high school saying those lines and experiencing those things.  I definitely want to read the book as the movie is written and directed by the author.  It is definitely an outside of the box kind of movie and those come around so rarely I’m grateful when they do.

Saturday was more subdued but still a lot of fun.  I slept in (didn’t get home until after 2 after chatting and shopping with Anna) and then went to the local NaNoWriMo kick off party in South Jordan.  It was a little chaotic but I got to meet 2 other writers who had both done the challenge before and they gave me some tips. I feel pretty confident in my ability to finish and write something I will be proud of.    The guy was writing a fantasy novel and I can’t imagine inventing a whole world and characters in one month.  I feel overwhelmed just telling my own story, but I guess they are both hard in different ways.

After the party I went home and then called my friend Sarah to see if she wanted to hang out and she did!  I love it when you call someone spur of the moment and they are free.  Doesn’t happen very often any more but makes me super happy when it does.  We went to this yummy sushi place that is like 2 steps from my house (hurray new find!) and then watched an old staging of Macbeth (to get ready for book club next week) by the Royal Shakespeare Company (from 1979 with Judi Dench and Ian McKellan).  The filming looked dated and was a little hard to get past but the play and performances were amazing!  Again, it was just fun to watch something out of the ordinary, something I might normally have selected.

I know this is a bit of a rambling post but I’m always hearing people say ‘Utah is so boring’ or ‘There’s nothing to do here’.  Look at all I did in 3 days in Utah for under $20 total, $30 if you count the sushi.  I’ve often wanted to make a blog of 52 weekends of fun in Utah, where you profile new and exciting things to do every weekend in Utah, give reviews, have a calendar of events etc.  I think wherever you live it just takes a little bit of digging to find a wealth of fun, unique, exciting things to do with your time.

And think a little outside the box.  Try something new. You might hate it but isn’t that what makes life exciting? If we are totally predictable and never do anything different than we will never grow or develop.  I say that as a fairly predictable, but accepting person. I know what I like and usually go for it but every now and then I push myself and decide to grow a little.

Anyway, stop saying Utah is boring and get out and do some of the great things we at our fingertips!

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2010/11/30/in-defense-of-utah/

 

 

 

Macbeth

Our bookclub book this month is Macbeth by William Shakespeare.  Kind of funny to go from Sophie Kinsella to Shakespeare but I guess that says a lot about my eclectic reading taste more than anything else!  I’ve really enjoyed reading and listening to it again this month.  I hope the language doesn’t seem too daunting for some.  I love it!

MacbethMacbeth by William Shakespeare

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day. To the last syllable of recorded time, and all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle, life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”

Who could not like such poetry? What a ghastly and ghoulish tale full of murder, revenge, uprising, ghosts, witches and the madness of the human mind. It is without a doubt one of the greatest of Shakespeare’s works and one of the most unique, having elements of Hamlet, King Lear and Othello but still remaining a singular work.

I hadn’t read it for many years but what struck me this time is the theme of time. Macbeth learns his future, as many of us would wish to do, and then is compelled to make that future his own at any cost. How many of us would do the same? How many of us dream of a grand life and don’t realize that what we have at the moment is already as grand as we are meant to be?

I think most of us if given the opportunity for our dream life would make certain sacrifices that we would later regret. Hopefully not as dramatic as Macbeth but still I think we’d be lying if we didn’t admit to at least be tempted to do almost anything to get where we knew for sure we could get.

I also find the madness of Lady Macbeth very interesting.  How can we go from being so sure of something to being completely controlled and mad from anguish from it?  In a tail of witches and ghosts it is perhaps the twisting of the human brain that is the most terrifying of all?  They say all of Shakespeare’s tragic characters have fatal flaws.  No doubt Macbeth’s is the ability to be controlled and Lady Macbeth is the ability to control.  Can we not all also see ourselves in both flaws?

Makes you think right?

What would you do for the sure thing? for prophesied glory? What frailties would manifest themselves in you in such a moment? Those are  the questions of Macbeth.

PS. No surprise that I bring even Macbeth back to work and career ambitions…
View all my reviews

If I Were a Bell

Any reader of mine knows I take voice lessons.  I do it for my own enjoyment and creative enrichment.  I am not the greatest singer in the world but I get a lot from it and that’s all that matters to me.  To me it is the most satisfying thing to start a song and have it be pretty awful and after working on it for a few weeks it is listenable.

I’ve seen great improvement over the years and if you look at some of my past videos and compare it with today’s I think you can see that.

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/?s=voice+lessons

So today was the summer recital (we have 3 a year, spring, summer and Christmas) and I decided to sing If I Were a Bell from Guys and Dolls.  It is a relatively easy song but the lyrics are very similar from verse to verse and it kept tripping me up.   Thankfully with lots of practice I got through it at the recital without any lyrical problems.  Phew!

The video doesn’t do it quite justice but the crowd seemed to really enjoy it.  I hope you do too!  🙂

Longing for Wholesome Broadway Musicals

Any loyal blog reader knows I am huge fan of musical theater and Broadway.  I have been to New York on 6 different trips throughout my life and one of the highlights is always the Broadway musical.  I love live performance in any fashion and the electricity of the stage- the lyrics, voices, story and scores fill me with excitement.  In my life I have been lucky enough to have seen Les Miserables twice (still my favorite show), Phantom of the Opera, King and I, Music Man, Beauty and the Beast, Lion King, 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee (a show that I found shocking at the time but now it seems like nothing…), Drowsy Chaperone, and Wicked all on Broadway.

So it is with sadness that I state publicly of my choice to not support tonight’s airing of the Tony Awards.  With the almost guaranteed winner, the Book of Mormon musical, the Broadway community has chosen to commend a show that is not only personally offensive but disgustingly profane and vulgar.

Now I have not seen the show but have listened to the soundtrack and I was repulsed.  People can disagree with me all they want- claim I should be more open minded- but what I heard was a tirade of the F word (among other profanities), an entire song about Joseph Smith being a sex maniac and pedophile, and songs about how unaware and closed-minded Mormons are to the problems of the world such as AIDS in Africa.   Never mind the millions of dollars in aid and the countless good our missionaries do in disaster regions and in Africa, we are all naive bigots who hate anyone who is different.

It would be one thing if they were just making fun of our idiosyncrasies or making us look silly but to make the entire religion appear unaware, crazy, manipulative and even perverse, is unkind, offensive and unfair.  It honestly makes me very upset- especially because I’ve had such a love for Broadway since I was a little girl.

I like what a Jewish commenter on the New York times review said:

“What this show displays as ridiculous is the Mormon faith and those who practice it. If this show were attacking Jews or Muslims, there would be international outcry. People would be fired, there would be lawsuits, boycotts, etc. It would be all over the news (in a bad way). This sort of thing happens to those of my faith in countries elsewhere in the world. But I cannot believe that New York, MY New York, where I was born and raised, would ever do such a thing. Shame on you, New York Times, shame on Broadway, and shame on all of us who stand idly by and do nothing while the faith of others is mocked. Religious and cultural Jews need not support such bigotry”

Amen to that.  So, this year I will not be watching the Tony’s and will not be visiting New York anytime soon.  I encourage others to do the same, or at least not support this particular show.  (although, it is sold out anyway but I have to speak out regardless)

To close I would like to point out a few shows that are worth seeing.  Unfortunately it is tough to come up with many modern shows that I can confidently recommend without first viewing them.  Even Les Mis has a few scenes that I wish were toned down a bit.  I have heard good things of the revival versions of Anything Goes by Cole Porter and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying  by Frank Loesser .

There are also the long running productions of Mary Poppins, Lion King and Wicked.  All are enjoyable and inoffensive.

I would also like to send a shout-out to Stephen Schwartz who consistently puts out material that is either faith promoting (Godspell, Children of Eden, Prince of Egypt) or whimsically entertaining (Wicked, Enchanted).  Some claim Schwartz is too pop-infused or not edgy enough.  If the recent offerings from Broadway are considered edgy give me the Schwartz-style of show any day!  He has two others (the Baker’s Wife and Pippen) which I have never seen but heard are good.  If you get a chance to see any of his shows, I highly recommend it.  Especially Children of Eden, which is special in so many ways.

Here are 2 of my favorite songs:

Of course, there are always the old school musicals that made Broadway what it is today.  You can’t go wrong with Rogers and Hammerstein, Lerner and Loewe, Irving Berlin, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, Leonard Bernstein and some Stephen Sondheim.  Even Andrew Lloyd Webber has an over-the-top fun to his shows.  (while usually weak musically at least they were not very  offensive and are entertaining.)

I’ve often wondered why in the deluge of musical film adaptations why nobody has attempted to recreate one of these old fashioned shows?  Is it because they were so iconically made into films in their era? Perhaps.  I think it is because filmmakers don’t want to admit that there is a huge section of us that wants such traditionally moral movies and music.  They want edgy and different.  Well, not me!

That’s my view and the purpose of a blog is to speak one’s viewpoint.  Feel free to disagree.

For a good article on this topic please read Why I won’t be seeing the Book of Mormon musical – On Faith – The Washington Post

Single Christmas Traditions

It’s hard to believe there is only a week left until Christmas.  As is usually the case, the month of December has flown by and I have packed it in with tons of cool Holiday experiences.  I decided a long time ago I was never going to miss out on a full life because I am single- this includes Christmas.  As a result, I have established a number of my own Christmas traditions that are unique to me (meaning I did not necessarily do them in my family while growing up).

1. The first ‘single tradition’ I have developed is what I call my “memory tree”.  I’ve mentioned my tree before on this blog, but it’s a way to decorate with ornaments that symbolize or were purchased concurrent with special moments/vacations in my life.  I have an ornament for the colleges I attended, the states I’ve lived in, the places I’ve visited and the things I love to do.  This year I bought  a couple of new ones including an artichoke heart to symbolize my new healthy ‘heart’ (clever, right?), a cute swimming ornament, and one for my book club.  Here is a photo:

2. The second ‘single tradition’ is that I participate in as much as I can during the holidays.  I usually don’t go crazy but this year has been especially busy.  In just the last few weeks, I have been to the Messiah Sing-In, Christmas Carol at Hale Theater Orem, Christmas Around the World and a Celebration of Christmas at BYU, and tonight I am going to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s Annual Christmas Concert (I scored tickets this year- hurray!).  In addition, I have purchased my holiday gifts, sang in my voice lesson recital and had two get-together’s at my apartment (first was my book club, second was my healthy holiday dinner party).

I’m not saying every year has to be this full or other people should feel badly if their Christmas was simple.  I’ve had many years where I didn’t do much. The important thing is to feel apart of the holidays and as a single person sometimes that takes more effort and planning.  In fact, I may have planned such a full schedule this year because in 2009 I was sick, and the year before that I was super busy getting one of our rentals ready (plus I went to Vegas).  The two traditions I make sure I do every year even if I have to drag myself sick (which I did last year!) is the Messiah Sing-in and the Christmas Carol at Hale Theater.  There is something about those traditions that make my Christmas.

3.  Finally, I try to do something to serve others at  Christmas time.  Some years this is as simple as putting extra time into selecting (or making) gifts for loved ones.  Last year I was on the committee for Festival of Trees (a charity event in Salt Lake for Primary Children’s Hospital where decorated trees are showcased and auctioned off); however, I did not feel I could do such a large project this year.  I was worried it would encroach on my exercise time and that has to be the priority right now (I’ve met with my trainer every week in December!).  So I asked around and found a person in need of cheer and did a little secret Santa gift for them.  It was a simple act of service but I’ve been uplifted by my involvement.

Some of the greatest acts of service we can do are within our families.  I remember some Christmas’ in college where my family struggled to remain upbeat. It’s a long story but my parents had a small baby and were very stressed out.  While I did not always have the best attitude back then, I know the service Ben, Megan and I did during those tough holiday’s meant a lot to my family- particularly my mother.

Many ideas also come from observing the needs in our community.   After seeing a cold homeless man, my niece Isabel started a coat drive  in her neighborhood to benefit a local shelter, and has collected over 50 coats (how cute is that!).   If a 6 year old can find a way to serve then we all can!

If singles are not careful Christmas can seem like an exclusively  couple/family time full of candy canes and mistletoe.  However, with a little effort we can be as involved and full of the spirit of the season as anybody else.   We each must decide if we are going to mope around feeling sorry for ourselves or go out and plan an activity, gather friends, buy presents, bake some holiday treats (although be careful with that one!), and watch a Christmas classic (or a cheesy Hallmark Christmas movie- whatever floats your boat!).  Just as with anything else, the holidays are only as good as the effort we put into them!  May yours be blessed and full of happy memories.

In Defense of Utah

I live in the great state of Utah and people are always ragging on it.  I’m not saying it doesn’t have its flaws and annoyances but it also has some great benefits. Here is a little list:

1. The mountains/outdoor activities- Anyone in need of inspiration? Just look at the mountains surrounding you from all angles ( it’s a valley for goodness sakes!). I admit I don’t hike in them as much as I should, but I hope to improve upon that in future months.  There are tons of outdoors activities to participate in year-round.  Of course, there is skiing, snowboarding, cross country skiing and snow shoeing (and sledding!) in the winter, but there is also swimming, tubing, boating, hiking and exploring throughout Utah but especially at its 5 national parks.

2. Amazing local culture- From the moment the pioneers settled in Utah Valley (and even in Nauvoo, Illinois) there was a tradition of theater, music and art in the state.  One of the first buildings dedicated by the Saints was a theater and even Brigham Young acted several times. Now there are local symphonies, theaters, ballets, operas, museums and choirs (including of course the Mormon Tabernacle Choir).  The Shakespeare festival in Cedar City, UT won a tony award for its amazing summer productions. Hale Center Theater is always wonderful (Broadway level performances).  There are great shows by BYU, UVU, and the U.  Plus, the Utah ballet, Utah symphony and Utah opera are all well regarded around the country.  I think a lot of people were surprised when they came for the Olympics by how much culture Utah had to offer. I also appreciate that most of this art, theater and music is low cost and family friendly.

3. Friendly people- I know some criticize Utah for being ‘too Mormon’, and maybe sometimes it is, but being Mormon,  most of time I’m ok with that.  I find people are unfailingly kind, generous and charitable.  Even customer service  is better than anywhere else I’ve lived.  I think a lot of people move here thinking Mormons are going to be a certain way and then are surprised to find us friendly and kind. (All you need for proof is the volunteer response they got for the Olympics- most ever.)

4. Burgeoning food town- By my count Utah has been featured 7 times on food network in recent years.  While Utah County still falls short, Salt Lake and Park City are loaded with great places to eat, farmers markets, bountiful baskets, organic shopping and eclectic stores.  I’ve had delicious Mexican, Italian, Japanese, Thai, Indian, Greek and American. Its not all chains people!

The Lonestar Taqueria profiled on Diners Drive-in’s and Dives is delicious.  Great fish tacos!

5. A heroic past- I like living in a place that is steeped in history.  The Mormon pioneers sacrificed greatly to come here and it is wonderful to learn of their stories.  I love going to Temple Square and the other sites and don’t do it half as much as I should.  There are also lots of smaller sites that are fascinating such as Cove Fort.  I love going down to BYU and walking around campus.  I changed so much there, it moves me feel of its spirit.

6. Personal Gifts- The last item is all the benefits Utah gives that are unique to me.  I love my friends, voice lessons, gym,  apartment and job. I wouldn’t trade those 5 things for all the glamor of living in New York or DC. (my apartment would probably be $2000 a month if I did!)  The other advantage that Utah offers me is that my family comes all the time but they don’t live here.  This allows me to be a part of their lives but still have my independence.  There is nowhere else I could do that.  I love my life here and even with the snow (which we’ve had a lot of lately) and the cold it is far worth it.

So, come out here for a visit!  I have a guest room (and a pull out sofa) so put it to use.  I promise I will show you a good time!  Come and see this state I have grown to love living in. I will be your own personal Utah Chamber of Commerce!