- Carol Rosegg
With Labor Day in the rearview mirror, it's time to face facts: Summer is almost over. But along with a change in the weather comes a change in the arts offerings, as local performing arts companies beckon prospective audience members indoors for their new seasons. Here's a roundup of what some of Utah's major theater organizations are serving up, from the latest brand-new locally-created plays to award-winning musicals from the Broadway stage.
Pioneer Theatre Co.: Salt Lake gets the honor of a pre-Broadway premiere when the new biographical musical Cagney (Sept. 20-Oct. 5) comes to town with co-songwriter/star Robert Creighton. The controversy over "fake news" gets a dramatic going-over in The Lifespan of a Fact (Nov. 1-16). The holiday season brings the hilarious meta-murder-mystery The Play That Goes Wrong (Dec. 6-21). Mary Stuart (Jan. 10-25) chronicles the conflict between two possible queens of England, followed by the beloved Lynn Ahrens/Stephen Flaherty musical Once On This Island (Feb. 21-March 6) and a portrait of the artist as badly-behaved man in Ass (March 27-April 11). The season wraps up with a musical about Elizabethan playwrights attempting to write the very first musical in Something Rotten! (May 8-23). pioneertheatre.org
Broadway at the Eccles: Touring productions coming to the Eccles Theater kick off with the often-controversial Vietnam-era adaptation of Madama Butterfly in Miss Saigon (Oct. 15-20). The classic tale of a little boy and his love for a Red Ryder BB gun lights up the holidays with A Christmas Story: The Musical (Dec. 3-8). Tevye and his love for tradition is celebrated again in Fiddler on the Roof (Jan. 21-26). The 2017 Tony Award-winning Best Musical Dear Evan Hansen, from the songwriting team behind La La Land, arrives March 4-14. A spectacular stage version of Disney's hit musical Frozen follows April 15-May 3, and another family-friendly stage version of an animated film with Anastasia (June 9-14). broadwayattheeccles.com
Salt Lake Acting Co.: An American engineer and her Kenyan driver begin a friendship complicated by political turmoil in Death of a Driver (Sept. 11-Oct. 20; see p. 16). A 12-year-old girl's coming of age mixes with dangerous and magical stories in Form of a Girl Unknown (Oct. 16-Nov. 17). The company's annual kid-friendly holiday production features a musical adaptation of the beloved Pete the Cat book series (Dec. 6-30). Lucas Hnath dares to craft a comedic sequel to one of theater's greatest plays in A Doll's House, Part 2 (Feb. 5-March 8). Sarah Ruhl's How to Transcend a Happy Marriage (April 8-May 10) dives into a New Year's Eve dinner party that goes completely off the rails. And, of course, the season concludes with the traditional assault on local conservative sensibilities, Saturday's Voyeur (June 17-Aug. 23). saltlakeactingcompany.org
Plan-B Theatre Co.: Ho-hum, it's just another full season of world-premiere productions by Utah writers for Plan-B. Camille Washington—from Ogden's Good Company Theatre—crafts a psychological thriller about three characters in a mental hospital in Oda Might (Nov. 7-17). A truly unique musical comedy involving performers from Puppets in the City debuts with Jenny Kokai's Singing to the Brine Shrimp (Feb. 13-23). Jennifer Nii explores the lives of three real-life Utah women from the Bassett family—including their infamous association with Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch—in The Audacity (March 26-April 5). planbtheatre.org
Pygmalion Theatre Co.: The local company dedicated to women's voices and women's stories goes all-in on its mission with three plays by female playwrights. Utah's own Julie Jensen is showcased in her story of the friendship between two pioneer-era Mormon women in Two-Headed (Nov. 8-23). Sheila Cowley's Flying (Feb. 14-29) tells the tale of a woman returning to "normalcy" after flying military planes during World War II. Body Awareness (May 1-16), by Annie Baker, digs into the lines between "art" and pornography. pygmalionproductions.org
Hale Center Theater: Just in time for the new animated film version, the musical The Addams Family (Sept. 9-Nov. 16) graces the Hale Center Theater's Sandy stage. The lesser-known musical version of a familiar dark romance appears in Yeston & Kopit's Phantom (Sept. 23-Nov. 9). Holiday offerings include the fanciful lessons of Dr. Seuss in Seussical (Nov. 25-Jan. 18) and the traditional production of A Christmas Carol (Nov. 30-Dec. 26). The musical romantic drama Bright Star (Jan. 20-May 2) offers the original songs by Edie Brickell and Steve Martin, while the stage version of Strictly Ballroom (Feb. 5-April 11) presents a distinctly different musical sensibility. Spring also features the much loved theatrical story of a certain magical nanny in Mary Poppins (April 29-July 11).
An Other Theater Co.: The risk-taking Utah County-based company brings more challenging productions following the already-running season premiere The Moors. John Patrick Shanley's Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning Doubt (Nov. 1-23) presents the complex story of a Catholic parish torn apart over suspicion. David Sedaris' comedic memoir about working as a department store elf comes for Christmas in The Santaland Diaries (Dec. 6-21). Freshman roommates at BYU share a secret in Chelsea Hickman's Safe (Jan. 24-Feb. 15). An improbable double-feature of one-act plays—Trifles and A Number—mixes an early 1900s murder mystery with a story of cloned offspring. Concluding the season are works by celebrated playwrights David Lindsay-Abaire (Good People, May 15-June 6) and Larry Kramer (The Normal Heart, July 10-Aug. 1). anothertheatercompany.com
Additionally, keep your eyes out for Ogden's Good Company Theatre (goodcotheatre.com), Wasatch Theatre Co. (wasatchtheatre.org), Grand Theatre Company (grandtheatrecompany.com), The Sting & Honey Co. (stingandhoney.org) and Sackerson Theatre Co. (sackerson.org).