If you can’t find something to your liking on Utah’s stages this season, you’re just not trying. Sure, the local social climate may guarantee a regular rotation of musicals and family-friendly classics, but they’ll share the spotlight with a bit of the avant-garde, light and dark satire, and works never before seen in Zion.
Salt Lake Acting Company swings from political drama to wild comedy and back again (and back again again) for its latest season. J. T. Rogers’ White People explores prejudice and racial politics through the eyes of three white Americans (Sept. 27-Oct. 29). Things get more fanciful (and farcical) in Terry Johnson’s Hysteria, about a meeting between Sigmund Freud and Salvador Dalí in 1938 London (Nov. 15-Dec. 17). Politics rears its ugly head again in Two Sisters & a Piano, Nilo Cruz’s study of the titular siblings dealing with repressive government in 1991 Cuba. Then the laughs return in Amy Freed’s Freedomland, a dysfunctional extended family comedy (April 18-May 20). Appropriately and traditionally, politics and comedy collide for Saturday’s Voyeur 2001 (June 20-Aug. 26) to close the season. Information: 363-7522.
Pioneer Theatre Company’s slate also runs the gamut—from Shakespeare to Dickens, from Lerner and Loewe to Noel Coward. The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Rupert Holmes’ comic version of the unfinished Dickens mystery, opens the season Sept. 20-Oct. 7. King Lear brings plenty of tragic sound and fury signifying something (Oct. 25-Nov. 11). Utah playwright Tim Slover’s Joyful Noise, a biographical drama based on the creation of Handel’s “Messiah,” premieres for the holidays (Nov. 29-Dec. 16). The 1998 Tony Award-winning Art (Jan. 3-20) explores the effect of a white canvas on a trio of friends. PTC artistic director Charles Morey is showcased in his humorous reflection on New England theater in Laughing Stock (Feb. 7-24), while more theatrical drollery comes from Noel Coward’s Present Laughter (March 21-April 7). Closing the season May 2-19 will be the joys of Arthurian treachery set to catchy tunes in Camelot. Information: 581-6961.
Catchy tunes will be available in mass quantities at West Valley’s Hale Centre Theatre, where Jane Eyre: The Musical kicks off a tune-heavy season (Aug. 26-Oct. 21). For those going into Joseph withdrawals, the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat makes a stop Oct. 28-Nov. 27. A Christmas Carol appears, of all times, during the holidays (Dec. 2-23). Will Stockdale and his humor-in-uniform hijinks highlight Mac Hyman’s No Time for Sergeants (Dec. 30-Feb. 3). Seventy-six trombones lead the big parade through The Music Man (Feb. 10-March 24). Victorian romance and cross-dressing lead to farce in Brandon Thomas’ Charley’s Aunt (March 30-April 28). And, from the good old days when gang violence was romantic entertainment, Sharks and Jets collide in West Side Story (May 5-June 6). Information: 984-9000.
For a little bit more of the Great White Way in the Great White State, Theater League of Utah brings in touring companies of Broadway shows. Rob Becker’s one-man comedy show Defending the Caveman makes a return appearance Sept. 25-Oct. 1, kicking off a series of encore performances including Stomp (Oct. 10-15), Rent (Nov. 14-19), Annie (Dec. 26-31) and Riverdance (March 20-April 1). Sprinkled amidst the repeat engagements are some familiar names new to town: the stage adaptation of E. L. Doctorow’s Ragtime (Nov. 21-26), Annie Get Your Gun (Jan. 30-Feb. 4), Showboat (Feb. 27-March 4) and The Civil War (April 17-22). Information: 355-5502.
Salt Lake Community College’s Grande Theatre also rolls out some Broadway to kick off its season: Oklahoma! (Sept. 8-23), The Pajama Game (Nov. 3-18) and You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown (Jan. 19-Feb. 3). There’s also the comedy of Kaufman and Hart’s You Can’t Take It With You (March 16-31) and the season-closer On the 20th Century (May 11-26). Information: 957-3322.
Emily Company brings three productions to the stage in 2001. Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler plays Feb. 22-March 11, followed by two shows from even more familiar names in the new 500-seat Jeanné Wagner Theatre: Shakespeare’s Hamlet (May 9-20) and Stephen Sondheim’s Company (July 12-29). Information: 799-0559.
Plan-B Theatre Company, now at home in The Downstairs Theatre at the Salt Lake Acting Company, offers dramatic fare like Brian Friel’s Molly Sweeny, about three characters dealing with vision and the lack thereof (Nov. 24-Dec. 16) and Terrance McNally’s A Perfect Ganesh, with two American women on a quest for inner peace in India (Jan. 25-Feb. 17). There’s also far-from-dramatic fare, in the form of Charles Busch’s soon-to-be-a-minor-motion-picture Psycho Beach Party, a broad and twisted parody of ’60s beach movies (March 29-April 21). Information: 363-7522.
Desert Star Playhouse’s own brand of parody—pun-filled stabs at pop culture—continues with titles like Hexed Files: The Spoof Is Out There (Sept. 21-Nov. 11), Kissed By an Angel: ’Tis the Season To Get Your Jollies (Nov. 11-Jan. 6), Three Musketeers: All for One and Fun for All (Jan. 11-Feb. 24), Hotel Utah 2001: This Is the Right Place (March 1-April 21) and Indiana Bones (April 26-June 9). Potential audience members should set aside fears that the latter—despite its á la Romancing the Bone title—involves use of a bullwhip in a manner that violates Utah decency laws. Information: 266-7600.
Decency abounds in City Rep Family Theatre’s youth-oriented productions. Upcoming shows include The Wizard of Oz, a youth cast version of A Christmas Carol, The Frog Prince, Tom Sawyer and The Lion King. Information: 532-6000.
And there’s so very much more, from the improvisational and well-rehearsed comedy at The Off-Broadway Theatre (355-4628) to the Greek tragedy- and Ionesco-laden schedule of the Babcock Theatre (581-6961), from Philadelphia Story and Bus Stop at StageRight Theater Company (485-8038) to the music and dance-heavy fare of Rose Wagner Center (323-6800). And Draper Historic Theatre (572-4611), and Theatreworks West (487-8727), and … if you can’t find something, you’re just not trying.