I've just returned from Cedar City, Utah where I took in three of the 2011 offerings -- The Music Man, Noises Off, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. All three were absolutely delightful!
The Music Man
There are many things to recommend this production of The Music Man. I'm not sure why, but I've seen more live productions of this one than any other musical, play, or opera. This version has just captured *first place* of all the productions I've seen. Here are some of the reasons why...
Brian Vaughn was a FABULOUS Harold Hill. I posted something to that effect on Facebook yesterday, and my High School English teacher promptly responded with "and so was your brother!" I was amazed she remembered that he played that part at the high school 25 years ago!
Laura Griffith was the best Marion (the Librarian) I've seen/heard.
The choreography was playful and fun and very well executed. I loved it when the kids in the library acted out Romeo and Juliet (which is one of the other plays at the Festival this year)
The supporting cast members left nothing to be desired!
And last, but definitely not least, there was a live pit orchestra!
This was a British farce in the form of a play within a play. The second act (of three) was my favorite. It takes place backstage and had me in stitches. At the first intermission, I mentioned to my friend that this one just wasn't grabbing me and she said she'd felt that way about "39 steps" last year, but then the second act just sucked her right in. Well, that's what happened for me in "Noises Off". My favorite moment came in the third act (hopefully you don't censure me for this), when one of the characters falls down a flight of stairs, headfirst. I reminded me of a skeleton run in the Olympics without a sled or helmet. I was fascinated.
Afterwards, Quinn Mattfeld, the fall-down-the-stairs fellow, made a pitch for extra donations for an Artistic Initiative project they are doing and said he would personally fall down the stairs again for anyone donating at least $20. Alas, I only had $5 on me, so while I did contribute, I did not get to see the stunt again.
A Midsummer Night's Dream
I was happy to see Kymberly Mellen (Hippolyta/Titania)again this year. She became a favorite last year as Beatrice in "Much Ado About Nothing". However, I think Bri Sudia (Helena, Max Robinson (Nick Bottom) and Ben Charles (Puck) stole the show whenever they were onstage. Bri Sudia and Max Robinson also regularly stole the spotlight in The Music Man - she as Ethel Toffelmier, he as Mayor Shinn.
This show was a lot funnier than I remember -- I'm guessing this was just the spin that this group put on it. Towards the end when Nick Bottom's "Pryamus" character is dying (as his merry troupe puts on a play for the other characters), a young child in the audience giggled -- and "Pryamus" stopped in his tracks and stared towards the area from whence the giggle has sounded - and the audience howled with laughter. He acknowledged the giggle, then resumed his dying scene. It was priceless!
One of the best things about seeing the shows in Cedar? I never know who else will be there, but I always run into someone or two!
Sidenote: if you are a David Ivers fan and/or a Brian Vaughan fan, you might want to take in the Fall season. They are both in "The Winter's Tale", plus David Ivers is in "Dial M for Murder" with Brian Vaughan directing. A friend and I will be there for the evening show on Oct 21st and the matinee on the 22nd -- come join us! Here's the website for more info: www.bard.org.