“A Distinct Society” receives a worthy world premiere at PTC – Jan 28, 2023

Corey Jones and Carrie Paff in Kareem Fahmy’s A Distinct Society at Pioneer Theatre Company. Photo: BW Productions

The Haskell Free Library and Opera House is a real place that straddles the U.S.–Canada border in the towns of Derby Line, Vermont, and Stanstead, Quebec. Visit its website and the first thing you’ll see, beneath a photo of the handsome Victorian building, is an announcement: “Family/friends reunions (cross-border visits) are not allowed.”

In Kareem Fahmy’s A Distinct Society—set in the winter after Donald Trump … Read More

PTC’s high-energy cast serves up enjoyable, family-friendly “Christmas Story” – Dec 10, 2022

Soren Ray as Ralphie (center) with Don Noble and ensemble in Pioneer Theater Company’s production of A Christmas Story: The Musical. Photo: BW Productions

Most people in Pioneer Theatre Company’s audience already own the 1983 film A Christmas Story or know how to find one of the marathon screenings on cable TV. So why would one venture out to the theater to see the decade-old musical version?

On its own, A Christmas Story: The Musical doesn’t make a terribly convincing case. But director-choreographer … Read More

Fine cast elevates cornpone humor of PTC’s “Shucked” – Oct 30, 2022

Take a passel of musical-theater stock characters (the ingenue, the con artist who woos her, the hometown boy waiting on the sidelines, the wise-cracking sidekicks and the all-knowing narrators), give them a score of soaring pop-country hits waiting to happen, and you have Shucked, the latest Broadway hopeful to make its world premiere at Salt Lake City’s Pioneer Theatre Company.

Is the plot predictable? Yes. Are the jokes unapologetically corny and occasionally a little smutty? Oh yes. Will you have a good time anyway? Also yes.

Shucked, which opened Friday, has solid credentials: music and lyrics by Nashville hitmakers Brandy … Read More

Pioneer Theatre’s “Scapin” offers more silliness than sophistication in updated Moliere – Sep 18, 2022

Pioneer Theatre Company’s Scapin runs through October 1. Photo: PTC

Pioneer Theatre Company opened its season Friday night with two hours of unmitigated silliness: Stephen Wrentmore’s new adaptation of Molière’s seventeenth-century farce Scapin.

The main twist here is that the titular character is now a woman, and the overbearing fathers in the original are now overbearing mothers. The gender swap does little to alter the dynamic of the story; rather, it demonstrates the durability of Molière’s satire and the universality of certain comedic tropes.

The plot revolves around two households, both alike … Read More

Utah Shakespeare Festival opens fall with absorbing “Thurgood” – Sep 15, 2022

Derek Charles Livingston stars as Thurgood Marshall in Utah Shakespeare Festival’s “Thurgood.” Photo: Karl Hugh/USF

Derek Charles Livingston introduced himself to Utah Shakespeare Festival audiences Wednesday onstage in the persona of Thurgood Marshall, the pioneering civil-rights attorney, Supreme Court justice, and subject of George Stevens Jr.’s 2006 play Thurgood. Livingston’s captivating portrayal of the multifaceted Marshall—erudite, impassioned, mischievous—made for an auspicious introduction.

The production took on added interest in June when Livingston, the festival’s director of new play development, was appointed as the … Read More

Pioneer Theatre says goodbye to season with a lively “Hello Dolly!” – May 14, 2022

Paige Davis stars in the title role of “Hello Dolly!” at Pioneer Theater Company. Photo: PTC

Pioneer Theatre Company is closing its season with some good old-fashioned fun: Jerry Herman’s classic musical Hello, Dolly!

The 1964 musical, which gave Carol Channing her signature role in its original Broadway production, has a long theatrical lineage. Based upon Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker, the title character is Dolly Gallagher Levi, a sassy widow with a prodigious skill set and an equally prodigious supply of moxie. Dolly … Read More

A fine cast lifts the gentle humor, late autumn romance of PTC’s “Fireflies” – Apr 02, 2022

Joy Franz as Eleanor and David Manis as Abel in Matthew Barber’s Fireflies at Pioneer Theatre Company. Photo: PTC

Like a warm summer breeze, Fireflies slips into Pioneer Theatre Company’s season as a breather between the boisterous, exclamation-pointed musicals Something Rotten! and Hello, Dolly!

Fireflies is what you might get if Enchanted April were a sitcom. (Both are from novels adapted for the stage by playwright Matthew Barber.) Friday night’s Utah premiere was underscored by a steady beat of chuckles as the audience … Read More

Pioneer Theatre makes a fun evening out of “Something Rotten!” – Feb 26, 2022

Matt Farcher and Daniel Plimpton star as the impresario Bottom brothers in Pioneer Theater Company’s Something Rotten! Photo: PTC

At long last, Pioneer Theatre Company has opened its pandemic-delayed production of the Shakespearean spoof Something Rotten! And with world news going from bad to worse every day, this unabashed romp of a musical feels like a welcome vacation, with a show that offers a surprisingly satisfying marriage of sophomoric comedy and smart wordplay.

The 2015 Broadway hit, co-created by Karey Kirkpatrick with his … Read More

Pioneer Theatre premiere explores timely public health theme in “The Messenger” – Jan 16, 2022

Ora Jones as Dr. Therese Stockman and Turna Mete as Petra in the world premiere of Jeff Talbott’s The Messenger at Pioneer Theatre Company. Photo: PTC

A doctor with a dire warning about a threat to the public health. A politician who warns that the doctor’s recommendations could trigger economic catastrophe. A newspaper editor driven by an agenda of her own.

If the central characters in The Messenger—Jeff Talbott’s one-act play, which received its world premiere at Pioneer Theatre Company Friday night— sound … Read More

Pioneer Theatre’s “Elf” provides a comical sugar rush to get through the holidays – Dec 04, 2021

Max Chernin and Antoinette Comer star in Elf at Pioneer Theatre Company. Photo: PTC

Are you feeling a little low on Christmas cheer after another year of pandemic and strife? Then Pioneer Theatre Company’s Elf The Musical could be the show for you.

Adapted from the 2003 Will Ferrell film by Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin (book), Matthew Sklar (music) and Chad Beguelin (lyrics), Elf succeeds in balancing a contemporary sensibility with the peppy song-and-dance energy of classic musical theater. Pioneer’s eye-catching production, which opened Friday, … Read More