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Deseret Morning News, Sunday, September 04, 2005

'Patsy Cline,' 'Aida' open this week on Utah stages

Other plays include Brigadoon,' 'And Then There Were None'

By Ivan M. Lincoln
Deseret Morning News

A revival of one of the Grand Theatre's biggest hits, the Utah premiere of a recent Disney Broadway musical and a gala celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Babcock Performing Readers are among this week's new stage offerings.

"ALWAYS . . . PATSY CLINE," featuring Erica Hansen and Toni Byrd reprising their roles from last season, is one of those rare "back-by-popular-demand" productions.

Based on ballots turned in by the Grand Theatre's patrons and subscribers, it's been brought back to open the Grand's 2005-06 season, beginning Friday and running through Sept. 24.

Hansen portrays the legendary country star Patsy Cline, and Byrd plays one of her biggest fans and friends, Texas housewife Louise Seger. The show includes many of Cline's chart-busting hits, including "I Fall to Pieces" and "Sweet Dreams." Richard Scott is directing.

Performances are Mondays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. at the theater, located on Salt Lake Community College's South City campus, 1575 S. State, with 2 p.m. matinees on Sept. 17 and 24. (There are no performances on Sept. 12 and 13).

Tickets are $10 to $24, with discounts for students and senior citizens (957-3322 or www.the-grand.org).

"AIDA," Elton John and Tim Rice's contemporary spin on the legendary opera, is making its Utah debut in the SCERA Showhouse II, 754 S. State, Orem.

Directed by Chad Taylor and choreographed by Rick Robinson, the cast includes Kandyce Cameron as Aida, an African princess captured by the Egyptians.

Also in the cast are Justin Uttley as Radames, heroic captain of the Egyptian soldiers, and Cindy Winkel as Amneris, princess of Egypt, betrothed to Radames.

Taylor is focusing on the theatricality of the script instead of the spectacle of the costumes and staging.

Following the general plot of the opera, "Aida" is the musical drama of the love between Radames and Aida, who is torn between her love for the warrior and loyalty to her family and her people.

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Cindy Winkel (Amneris), left, Kandyce Cameron (Aida) and Justin Uttley (Radames) in SCERA's "Aida."

Mark A. Philbrick
Taylor notes that productions he's seen previously treat "Aida" as ". . . a dance and pop concert. We will still have some spectacular choreography . . . and some of the flashy elements, but I want to have audiences really see the story and the choices and struggles the characters must go through."

"Aida" opens the SCERA's "Encore Season" on Friday and continues through Oct. 3, with performances at 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays-Saturdays and Mondays. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for children, senior citizens and students (225-2787 or 225-2569).

"AND THEN THERE WERE NONE," previously titled "Ten Little Indians," is being produced by StageRight TheaterCompany, opening Saturday and continuing through Oct. 8.

The Agatha Christie thriller, directed by Shellie Waters, focuses on 10 strangers stranded on a British island and dying one by one, being slain in the manner of an old poem.

Due to issues of racism, all current productions of the drama are now titled "And Then There Were None." The original novel, also by Christie, was titled "Ten Little Niggers," based on an 1868 novelty tune, but the first film adaptation (1945) and another in 1974 were titled "And Then There Were None" — although three other film versions (1959, 1966 and 1989) were released as "Ten Little Indians."

The stage version also differs from the book. The novel ends with all 10 characters getting killed, but Christie demanded that the stage version have a more upbeat ending, with two survivors thwarting the killer.

The cast includes Chelsey Richardson as Vera, Justin Bruse as Lombard and Ralph Sieger as Wargrave, with Charla Brinkpeter, Mike Brown, Paul Gibbs, Bryon P. Jacobs, Gordon S. Jones, Ann Jensen, Leonard Johnson and Dave Sanderson in other roles.

Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. at 5001 S. Highland Drive in the old Cinemark theaters south of Cottonwood Mall. Tickets are $12 for adults and $9 for students and senior citizens (272-3445).

THE BABCOCK PERFORMING READERS is holding a 25th anniversary gala this week, with a program paying tribute to their past and a performance by Octapella, the Utah based men's a capella group.

The gala starts at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday in Orson Spencer Hall on the U. of U. campus.

The first half of the program will have Shirlee H. Shields and her team of "researchers" probing BPR's mission over the past quarter of a century. Have they been true to the mission and where are they headed over the next 25 years?

Octapella will take charge during the second half of the evening.

Admission, parking and entertainment are all free for BPR members. (There will be a $5 admission charge for nonmembers.) The group meets on the second Thursday of each month. It will meet in Orson Spencer Hall for the rest of this year, then move back into the U. Union Building's Little Theater in 2006.

"BRIGADOON," being staged by the Draper Arts Council, is scheduled for four performances in the Alta High School auditorium.

Directed by Walt Price, the cast includes Mark Carpenter as Tommy Albright, Chris Bunderson as Jeff Douglas, Leslie Johnson as Fiona MacLaren, Joy Price as Meg Brockie and Gordon Johnson as Mr. Lundie.

Performances are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and Sept. 12, with one matinee at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

General admission tickets are $8 each, available at Albertson's customer service counter, 1212 E. 12200 South. Reserved seating is $10, available by calling 523-7485 or sending an e-mail to draperartscouncil@yahoo.com.

TWO MELODRAMAS, both connected to community celebrations, are opening next weekend along the Wasatch Front.

"He Done Her Wrong or Wedded, But No Wife," by Anita Bell, is being performed by the Pleasant Grove Players as part of the city's annual Heritage Festival.

Performances are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and Sept. 12 in the Keith Christeson Theater, on the first floor of the Pleasant Grove Library, 30 E. Center, with three Saturday matinees at noon, 2 and 4 p.m. Tickets are $2 for the evening performances; all three Saturday matinees are free of charge.

"Mosquito Alley or The Mosquito King and His Plans to Rule the World and Get Free Yo-Yos Whenever He Wants," a prize-winning script by Marty Reeder of Logan, is being staged by veteran performers of the former Palace Playhouse in connection with Brigham City's annual Peach Days celebration.

Performances are Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 4 and 7:30 p.m. at the Fine Arts Center, 58 S. 100 West. Tickets are $3 per person or $10 per family (435-723-0740).

CASTING CHANGES — Jeff McLean, son of Michael McLean, has taken over the role of Joseph in Tuacahn Amphitheater's production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," which continues through Oct. 15.

T.J. Young, who had been playing the role, is rejoining the national touring company of "42nd Street."

Tuacahn's cast change coincides with the amphitheater's shift into a "fall season" mode. Beginning Monday, all performances will begin half an hour earlier — at 8 p.m. instead of 8:30 (www.tuacahn.org).

Also, Broadway actor Howard McGillin, who had been scheduled to play Captain Hook in Cathy Rigby's new touring production of "Peter Pan," has left that company to reprise his title role in Broadway's "Phantom of the Opera," a role he has played more than 1,200 times — longer than any of the other Phantoms. He will be playing the famous masked-man when Andrew Lloyd Webber's production becomes the longest-running musical in the history of the Great White Way sometime in January.

"Peter Pan" is booked into the Capitol Theatre as the first in this season's Broadway in Utah offerings, Sept. 27-Oct. 2.


E-mail: ivan@desnews.com


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