Author: Rachel's Reviews

I am a rottentomatoes approved film critic and podcaster. I love animation, romcoms and holiday films and I am the proud creator of the popular Hallmarkies Podcast as well as Rachel's Reviews. I love interviewing creative minds and grow each time I interact with a new human. I love what I do

Ranking My Next 10 Live Theater Shows 2021 (20-29)

When I got vaccinated I made it my goal to support local theater as much as possible. I was excited to help the arts in any way I could but I don’t know if I even thought I would watch 30 live shows by the end of September! And I’m so glad I have and that I made this goal. What a tremendous experience it has been. I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed every show I’ve seen to one degree or another. I just love live theater so much and appreciate the efforts the cast and crew put in to putting on these shows. I’m so lucky to live in a place where there are so many local theaters putting on incredible productions. Blessed.

As I have done with 1-9 and 10-19 blocks of shows I will rank the 20-29 shows I’ve seen. Again, I’ve enjoyed all of them but it’s fun to rank things so here we go!

10. Footloose (West Valley Center for the Arts)-

I enjoyed the choreography and energy behind this production but some of the casting didn’t work for me. It’s not my favorite show to begin with its songs being all over the place in tone and style but I still appreciate the effort and had fun with my friend.

9. The Secret Garden (Hale Center Theater Sandy)

I love the songs from The Secret Garden. They have beautiful words and lyrics with a mixed sound that you don’t always here in contemporary Broadway. I enjoyed all the performances at this show at Hale but the gothic production design felt overwrought and the garden didn’t feel magical enough. It was still fun to see with my family but not my favorite.

8. Always…Patsy Cline (Hale Center Theater Sandy- Jewelbox Theater)

I consider myself a fan of country music and Patsy Cline’s beautiful singing, so I had a great time with Always…Patsy Cline. It’s a sweet show about an unlikely friendship between Patsy and one of her devoted fans. This show is very cute and the performances were amazing; however, it does feel more like a concert than a Broadway musical so that’s why it is at 8.

7. Sister Act (CenterPoint Theater, Centerville, UT)

CenterPoint theater always puts on a great show and Sister Act was no exception. The talent of the performers especially the lead was incredible. It’s one of those times when I feel bad such talented people are performing here in Utah rather than on American Idol or something like that. I kind of wish the show had 1 song from the movie but it’s Alan Menken music and you can’t go wrong with him. I also saw this show with my niece which was a ton of fun.

6. Hunchback of Notre Dame (Hopebox Theater. Kaysville UT)

Speaking of Alan Menken I saw another of his shows just last night. I was glad to see the stage adaptation improved upon the animated film in many ways including much better character development throughout. It also kept better control of tone and atmosphere. The Hopebox’s production is full of energy and a community spirit I love. If you can get up there to see it I recommend it.

5. The Last Five Years (Luminaire Theatre Company, Mid-Valley Performing Arts Center)

I have wanted to see The Last 5 Years for some time as I adore the songs and it did not disappoint. This moving and tragic portrait of a marriage (or a divorce) is tough to watch at times but emotionally true and devastating. The 2 person cast at Luminaire did an incredible job with very difficult songs. Plus, it was neat to finally see something in the new beautiful arts center. Maybe a little too sad to make my top 4 but I still thought it was wonderful.

4. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (West Valley Arts)-

I have always wanted to see Sweeney Todd but was a little nervous with the darker themes and atmosphere. I am not much of a horror person so I didn’t know what to expect with this show. Fortunately I was very impressed by Sweeney Todd and the incredible production by West Valley Arts. It’s by far the best of the 3 shows I’ve seen there and I would love if they created a niche for themselves with more adult, darker themed shows. The singing was fantastic. The production design, costume and sets were first rate. I honestly can’t imagine the show being done any better.

3. Annie Get Your Gun (Hopebox Theatre, Kaysville, Utah)

I love Annie Get Your Gun and as my first show at Hopebox it did not disappoint! I love the cheekiness to the show, the romance between Annie and Frank Butler. The supporting characters are great and you can’t beat those Irving Berlin songs! The Hopebox did a great job with this. Sure a few things are outdated but I loved the casting especially the girl who played Annie and the community spirit to their shows is perfect for Annie Get Your Gun!

2. The Drowsy Chaperone (Scera Center for the Arts, Orem UT)

I admit there is a certain amount of nostalgia with this placement. I saw a preview performance of The Drowsy Chaperone on Broadway way back in 2006 with star Sutton Foster. I loved it then and loved this production at the Scera. All the leads were wonderful including the title character, Adolfo and the Man in the Chair who narrates the show. It’s extremely funny and a lovely tribute to musical theater that warms my heart every time I watch it.

  1. The 39 Steps (Hale Center Theater. Orem UT)

I am as surprised as you that a non-musical topped my list but The 39 Steps is such a delight it had to be number one. This murder-mystery satire is so mad-cap and hilarious it is a must see for any theater fan. I was laughing from start to finish and the performances at Hale Orem were phenomenal. How they are able to keep track of so many different characters, sometimes within the same scene is a joy to watch and the creative staging and production design made everything flow perfectly. It’s the kind of show I immediately recommended to all my friends because I knew they’d have a great time. How can you not when you are laughing your head off at such a funny show? I loved it

So there you have it! The ranking of 20-29 shows. I wonder w hat 30-39 will bring me? I have a Broadway trip coming up that I am very excited about and some local shows after that. Then the end of October I will probably slow things down because of the busyness of my holiday movie coverage. Still it should be lots of fun! What do you think of my ranking? If you saw any of these shows let me know!

Summer Travel Recaps and Swims

I hope you have been enjoying my theater reviews. I didn’t have any this week because I was still recovering from my trip and getting ready to cover the Toronto International Film Festival TIFF. You can read my daily TIFF logs here.

Theater and movies aren’t the only thing I’ve been enjoying this summer. After getting vaccinated I decided to rejoin the world of the living and began traveling and open water swimming. Here are some highlights.

Virginia

I started my summer visiting my sister in Virginia for a long weekend. It was a trip to dip my toe into travel so the focus was on family time vs activities (most of the activities were closed or limited anyway. We did have some yummy food, visited a beautiful rose garden, went to Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day and went to the 2nd Air and Space Museum.

One of the highlights was getting to visit with my college friend Joni who I haven’t seen in many years. After a year of barely seeing anyone it was nice to see an old friend.

Great Salt Lake Swim

Next up I completed my 6th finish of the Great Salt Lake Marathon Swim. I hadn’t done it in a while because the salt is so hard on my body but I wanted to embrace life this year so I went for it! It was very challenging and I didn’t think I could do it throughout but I finished! This year marks 10 years since my first marathon swim.

Family Reunion Torrey Utah

We had a nice family reunion in beautiful Torrey, Utah at the end of June. It was with my Moms side of the family and I got to see my cousins in a relaxed style reunion where we got to decide how to use our time and what we wanted to do. This is an ideal family reunion especially in a time of social distancing when some are still uncomfortable with large groups. It’s a beautiful part of Utah and I was glad to get to spend some time in the good old red rock!

Oceanside Visit

As an open water swimmer there is nothing I love more than being at the ocean. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to see the ocean in a long time. This summer I fulfilled a dream of not only taking a beachside vacation but also taking a trip with my podcast friend Dory who hosts the All the Feels podcast which covers Hallmark movies. She has been on Hallmarkies Podcast many times so it was so much to actually meet and see the ocean together. The great Air BandB we rented had one of the most incredible pools I’ve ever seen. It was a fantastic trip! I hope to go back again soon.

Deer Creek Swim

In August I finished my 8th time at the Deer Creek Open Water Marathon Swim. I always get super nervous before these swims but it’s always a great experience in the end. This time my friend Stefani was kind enough to paddle for me. She is the perfect person for such an assignment- so kind and encouraging.

Austin, Texas Trip

My last trip of the Summer was my first trip to Texas! I’ve long wanted to meet my friends Sean and Jennifer Chandler (I was thinking of going last year but then 2020 happened LOL). We had a great time together including getting to go the Barton Springs natural pool in Austin! I have never seen a natural pool quite like it (very cold at 65 degrees) and it was so much fun. We also had some good food and watched some questionable movies (the new Cinderella LOL). I went to church with Sean and Jennifer and got to listen to him speak here. I also got to see my best friend from college Emily. It made me realize how much I miss spending time with friends IRL. Aside from my friend Jen (who I value so much) I don’t do much with friends these days. I hope I get to go back soon.

Thanks to everyone who made this summer so memorable for me. Combined with all the shows I got to see it really has been a special time I will never forget. Fall and the holiday season will be very busy for me in my podcasting but I have a New York trip planned and hopefully there will be other neat experiences. I am very blessed.

What have you been doing this summer? I hope you have been able to get out safely and have some great times with family and friends.