As you all know 2021 is my summer of theater! With the barrage that hit theater in 2020 I made it a goal to support as much live local theater as possible once I was vaccinated in 2021. Recently with Bye Bye Birdie I saw my 20th show (seeing my 21st tonight) and I thought it would be fun to rank the next 10 shows I’ve seen. I ranked the first 10 in this post.
As in my first ranking I want to make it clear I enjoyed all of these shows. They are all also very different so it is tough to definitely say one is better than another. Instead look at this ranking as more of a summary of 10 experiences rather than an insult in any way. All of these shows required hard work and dedication from the cast and crew and it was a joy to see them.
So here goes!
10. 7 Brides for 7 Brothers- High Valley Arts Center- Midway Utah
The cast for this show 7 Brides for 7 Brothers was fantastic as was the choreography in the dance sequences. I also enjoy the humor of the show and the original songs are smashing. However, the new songs were bland and underwhelming. The High Valley Arts Theater is also kind of in the middle of nowhere which has its appeal but its downsides as well.
9. The Sound of Music- Hale Center Theater Orem– Orem, Utah
I love the Sound of Music film adaptation with Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. However, I am not as big a fan of the original show. It is one of those rare examples of the film significantly improving over the original Broadway musical. I particularly do not like the 2 songs sung by Max and the Baroness. I wish they would officially remove them from the show. Also the placement of ‘My Favorite Things’ works way better in the movie. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed HCTO’s take on the musical. They elevated the material with wonderful performances from the whole cast.
8. Bye Bye Birdie- Lehi Arts Council– Lehi, Utah
I had big nostalgia grins the whole time watching Lehi Art Council’s production of Bye Bye Birdie. It’s a musical I was in during high school and while some aspects are dated it’s still a great time at the theater. I loved seeing the community spirit and a cast that obviously loves and supports each other. You can still see it for another week if you are in the Lehi area. The only downside is Albert is a hard lead character to love and some of Mrs Peterson’s racist antics go a long way. Still,a ton of fun and you should totally see it if you can.
7. Mamma Mia- Draper Amphitheater- Draper, Utah
I had a great time seeing Mamma Mia at the Draper Amphitheater. It had great performances and a fun energy with the cast and production. It’s a fun, silly musical perfect for the summer. I just like the others I saw slightly better as they aren’t jukebox musicals.
6. The 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee- Kensington Theater– South Jordan, Utah
Putnam Spelling Bee I first saw on Broadway in 2006 so it was really fun to revisit with a cast that was totally up for the challenge. I had never attended a show at Kensington Theater but I hope to see many more there at the future. They all did a great job especially with the improv and some challenging songs. It’s a little too sarcastic to be my favorite show but I do enjoy it.
5. Shrek: the Musical- Murray City Amphitheater– Murray, Utah
I must admit I had low expectations going into Shrek: The Musical as I am not the biggest fan of the Shrek franchise of films. Count me as pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this energetic and hilarious show. All of the talent at the Murray Amphitheater was top rate and especially commendable with how hot it was that night- nearly 100 degrees! I especially loved Lucas Charon as Lord Farquaad. Hilarious. The production was simple but the choreography, costumes and make outstanding. I would see it again and I didn’t anticipate saying that. Better than most of the Disney musicals!
4. Next to Normal- Midvale Main Street Theater– Midvale, Utah
Next to Normal is a show I had heard about for years but never gotten a chance to see. It’s something totally different amongst the musical landscape. With its dark themes of mental health, divorce, depression and more, it made a lasting impact on me and is something I won’t soon forget. The Midvale Main Street Theater did an incredible job and it’s hard to imagine the singing and performances being done any better on Broadway. I hope they make it into a movie someday. Very unique and powerful.
3. Newsies- CenterPoint Legacy Theater– Bountiful, Utah
CenterPoint Theater is one of the most underrated gems in this area. Their tickets are nearly half the price of Hale Center Theater and yet their shows are just as good. The production of this run of Newsies was outstanding. The choreography and costumes were fantastic. My top 4 are a little more unique in shows but if you can make it up to Bountiful to CenterPoint I highly recommend it.
2. Guys and Dolls- Hale Centre Theatre- Sandy, Utah
Guys and Dolls is a show I’ve always enjoyed. In particular, ”Adelaide’s Lament is one of my favorite Broadway numbers and one that always cracks me up. When I saw that Hale Center Theater in Sandy was putting on a production I had to get tickets and to my delight one of my podcast patrons was in town so she came with me to see it. I’m so glad she did because it ended up being one of the best productions Hale has done in some time. The way they used the stages was incredible and all talent was outstanding. I even got to see Jiesel Soleil Ayon as Sgt Sarah and now she has ended the show early and is in New York state performing Footloose (she’s incredible. You should follow her on instagram). Hale has gotten pretty pricey but this one was worth it!
1. Bright Star- Ziegfeld Theater Arts- Ogden, Utah
Bright Star is such an incredible show because it manages to tackle weighty themes and storybeats without losing hope. I love the bluesgrass influenced score and the cast at the Zeigfeld were up for the challenging arrangements. I loved all the leads and engaging choreography. The production design and costumes were excellent. I saw the Broadway touring company with Carmen Cusack and this was every bit as good. It seems almost wrong for such talent to be stuck in Ogden, Utah when they should be on Broadway. This took me an hour to get to in a blazing hot car and I don’t regret it for a second. Well done
So there you have it! My ranking of my last 10 musicals. What do you think? Have you been to any shows recently? I hope we are getting out safely and supporting the arts!