Earlier this year I gave my awards for the best of Utah theater in the first 6 months of the year. You can read that post here. Now I would like to present my favorites from the bottom half of the year. As I said in that post, I did not get a chance to see everything and I only saw one cast of the shows in question but I did see 50 shows in that part of the year including one Broadway trip. So here we go…
Best Play– A Christmas Carol at Parker Theater
One of the great things about writing for Utah Theater Bloggers Assoc is it has encouraged me to see more plays. Musicals will always have my heart but it’s a great experience to see plays as well. One show that I reviewed for UTBA is A Christmas Carol at Parker Theater. I was introduced to this theater by UTBA seeing their extraordinary Hamlet this summer but was even more blown away by their A Christmas Carol. I liked it so much I saw it twice- bringing my parents and aunt with me for the second viewing.
Everything from the script, to the acting, to the luminous visual effects were outstanding. You can read my full review here.
Best Musical Comedy- Little Shop of Horrors (West Valley Performing Arts Center)
The folks at West Valley Performing Arts Center have continually impressed me with the quality of their productions. I loved their In the Heights in July, Beauty and the Beast in February and closing out the year with Little Shop of Horrors. Now I saw Little Shop on off-Broadway in March so the bar was set high for this production and they completely met it. This was every bit as good as the production I saw in New York if not better. The singing was outstanding. The puppetry and production design immersive and realistic. More people should be going to this theater as they are routinely beating their old owners Hale Sandy for a fraction of the price.
Best Musical Drama- Bright Star at CenterPoint Legacy Theater
Perhaps it is unfair to give CenterPoint Legacy this prize for their production of Bright Star because I absolutely adore this musical. In fact, I gave this prize to the Ziegfeld Theater last year for their production of Bright Star. What can I say? It’s an amazing show that gives you everything you could want: beautiful music, laughter, tears, wonderful story. This production by CenterPoint was outstanding- as usual. I was stunned when the couple next to me left at intermission! How dare they!
Best Actress- Reagan Fausett as Betty in White Christmas at the Regalo Theater, Lehi Utah
I absolutely loved White Christmas at the Regalo. I think the adaptation actually improves upon the movie in almost every way. The whole cast was excellent but Reagan Fausett stole the show as Betty . Her voice has a beautiful, rich quality to it and could take on the jazzy and classical Broadway tunes in the show. She was also up for the dancing numbers- something that Rosemary Clooney couldn’t do in the movie! This was a Broadway level performance in my opinion.
Best Actor- Darrin Burnett as Paul in A Chorus Line at the Empress Theatre in Magna Utah
I had never seen A Chorus Line until this Fall and I had never been to the Empress Theatre as it’s a good drive from my house. Fortunately I enjoyed both the theater and the musical and the standout was Darrin Burnett as Paul San Marco. He has a monologue where he shares his coming out story with his parents disowning him that was completely devastating. You could tell Burnett put his heart and soul into the performance and after he is carried off stage with a busted knee we all sat there absorbing what we’d just seen. Outstanding.
Best Ensemble- Entire cast of The Addams Family (Scera Theater, Orem Utah)
The Addams Family was all the rage this Fall in Utah but unfortunately I only saw 1 of the many productions because I was traveling so much in September and October. However, the one I did see at Scera in Orem was so good. The whole cast and production was on a Broadway level quality for a fraction of the price. The choreography was energetic and delightful, the sets interactive and surprising. But mostly the cast felt like a real family. Garrett Smit and Lauren Billings had wonderful chemistry as Gomez and Morticia and Sydney Swalberg and Luli Peters are great as Wednesday and Pugsley Addams.
Best Choreography- Matilda (Payson Community Theatre, Payson Utah)
I had the chance to review Matilda for UTBA at the Payson Community Theatre and I must say I was blown away. To be honest, the first time I saw the show I wasn’t that impressed. The fantasy elements of the script don’t work well and the whole thing felt bloated. However, the folks at PCT did such a great job those problems went away. I’m not over-stating it when I say the sets and the costumes were Broadway level quality. The performances were also all outstanding but what impressed me the most was how large the cast was and how great they executed the choreography. You can read my full review here. They truly made this show come alive and I just wish more people had the chance to see such a wonderful show. (They also had a married couple in real life playing Miss Honey and Trunchbull!)