Tag: utah theater

Fun Recent Activities in Utah

It’s no secret that I spend a lot of my life cooped up in doors. Sometimes people will say the weather has been bad but I don’t really know because I’ve been inside all day! So lately for my sanity I’ve been trying to get out and go to more activities- particularly plays and concerts and I thought I would give you a round up of what I’ve seen. Let me know if you’ve seen any of these and what you thought.

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First cool experience is I got to go to the Utah Symphony to hear a concert called An American in Paris which was half Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and half Schubert’s Symphony No 7 in C Major. I preferred the Gershwin but as Utah has one of the best symphonies in the country it was a great experience.

Next, if you’ve been following my blog you probably know my favorite book is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Well, after 13 years he has a new book called Bridge of Clay which I am dying to read. He came to Salt Lake for a lecture and book signing and it was really neat. He autographed my book and I was able to tell him how much his writing meant to me. So cool!

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Then I tried out a new theater in Provo called The Hive.  They were putting on a new original play called The Bookbinders Tale, which I had heard great things about. Unfortunately I found it to be a bit hipstery for me. I think it felt it was being more groundbreaking in its themes and messages than it really was. Still, I like what they are trying to do with the theater and would definitely give them another chance.

Anyone who has been following my blog knows how much I adore Josh Groban. One of the coolest experiences of my life was in 2007 when my friend Camille got bumped from the nosebleeds to down right by the stage! I also love Idina Menzel and have seen her in concert. So I was thrilled to see they were touring together and snatched up a seat (a terrible seat but I was sitting by nice people so it was fun). They did an amazing job and sung all the songs I wanted them to. My only qualm was that the big screen was broken so we could barely see them (the photo of them is from the Deseret News). But other than that a fantastic concert!

I also had the chance to make a new friend named Ashley who is a member of a theater group I follow on facebook. Always good to go out of your comfort zone and meet someone new. 🙂

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As I was driving around in my hometown of Draper I noticed a sign for ‘A Night of Broadway’ by the Draper Philharmonic and Choral Society and decided to give it a try. To my delight it was such a great experience! Everything was so well done with so many different shows covered by talented singers and dancers. There were a few minor hiccups with microphones but other than that it was amazing and I hope to go to many more of their concerts

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I was very excited to see Hale Center Theaters latest version of The Scarlet Pimpernel. I had seen it there once before years ago (at the old Hale of course) and really enjoyed it. Unfortunately this time I left with mixed feelings. It was fun and I enjoyed seeing it with my family I thought some of the casting was a little off (not great chemistry) and the show isn’t very memorable. I couldn’t tell you a single song. Also it doesn’t use the Sink Me and iconic poem very well. The production of the play was very good and great costumes.

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Next I was able to see 3 shows at Hale Center Theater Orem. 2 of them were at a double header of sorts. First I saw The Velveteen Rabbit, which is a play for children written by my former teacher Dave Smith. It was a very sweet little play for kids. Next I saw Anything Goes which is a bright and bubbly play full of Cole Porter songs. Naturally I loved it!

But the greatest surprise was seeing Daddy Long Legs which is a 2 person show based on the classic book (which I’m not high on and I like the movie even less). I went into it with low expectations but I wanted to support Dave and I ended up being delighted. The songs are great! It’s very romantic and I was amazed how they could learn so many lines! Very impressive!

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Finally I went to another ‘Night of Broadway’ this time at the Scera theater in Orem. It was full of talent and they mixed in the standards with some more obscure picks. It was great. My only complaint is the seats in that theater are so small I could barely sit through it and you can’t move the seat arm rest up making it quite uncomfortable. Oh well

So there you have it! It’s been a pretty fun Fall for checking out the arts. There are so many great things to see and do that it can be quite overwhelming. I’m grateful to live in such a artistic and talented place.

What have you been doing lately? Been to any plays or concerts? Any recommendations? Let me know! Thanks!

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.

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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!

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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/

 

 

 

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!