I overheard Ben talking to his mom about seeing some plays in Southern Utah and I shamelessly invited myself to go. Lucky for me, Mama Brown made some phone calls and got tickets so that Ben and I could come along!
Ben and I love Southern Utah. I went to school there (Southern Utah University) and that is where Ben and I met. So we were excited to spend some time there and have a chance to see some of the plays in the area. The trip was definitely centered around the plays, but we had a little extra time to go to some of our favorite restaurants, visit some good friends and hit up the Aquatic Center in Cedar City cause that’s definitely a fave.
While the extras were excellent, I thought I’d do a post on the plays we saw, what we thought and what we’d change if we did it again. Here are a couple things to know regarding these reviews:
- Ben and I are in no way, shape or form play experts or enthusiasts. We are both mildly musically talented…but that’s about the extent of our play finesse (I know you’re thinking, “But Kim, what about the time when you played an extra in Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat in 9th grade???”)
- Guess what??? Utah’s Shakespeare Festival has more than just Shakespeare plays! It’s true! When I mentioned USF (what I’m calling it now because Utah Shakepeare Festival is too long to write), most people were like, “I thought they only did Shakepeare plays.” Which I could see where the idea comes from, but, no, they usually put on about 8-10 plays each season, only a couple of which are from Shakespeare.
- The play season for USF and Tuacahn goes through October! So if you see something you might like and live relatively close (definitely worth a weekend trip), I highly recommend getting yourself some tickets and enjoying some of these awesome plays.
- (Oh, P.S., the photos that aren’t mine have links to their sources.)
Here’s what we saw:
Tarzan @Tuacahn: This was the first play we saw to kick off our show showdown 😉 The rendition they did was based off the Disney movie and it followed the film and songs pretty perfectly. The main characters were excellent-I especially loved the lady who played Kala (the momma gorilla). I would say that Tuacahn is known for the sweet special effects they’re able to pull off on stage and Tarzan did not disappoint. I wasn’t completely in love with their costumes and Tarzan’s teeth were so white they practically glowed in the dark (okay, that has nothing to do with actual play…), but overall it was a great show and it had several parts that had me totally mesmerized.
The Cocoanuts @The Utah Shakespeare Festival: We had no idea what to expect going into this one, but we all totally loved it! The play is set in Florida during the 1920s and includes characters who are supposed to represent The Marx brothers. The slapstick comedy was hilarious and they spouted off jokes so fast that I could hardly keep up. To me, the production was very vaudeville-esque with lots of fun show-tune songs, flashy outfits and colorful scenery. It was super fun with a sweet little love story and lots of cons. The actors were truly talented and at one point “Groucho” admitted they were way off script, but everyone rolled with it and stayed in character…I never would’ve guessed they were improving it was so smooth.
Murder for Two @The Utah Shakespeare Festival: So….this play…oh my gosh…it was unreal! It was so funny and the talent…! I just can’t even!!! This play only has two actors. One actor played the detective and the other actor played about a dozen different parts. He could say five different sentences and be a different character with each sentence…and you always knew which character he was playing! It was hilarious! Both actors also played piano and they’d switch off or play together seamlessly. Both were incredibly talented. The script was clever and surprising, with great comedic timing. I ought to note that there were parts of the play that were a little bit raunchy, but I didn’t think it was too much and I still thought it all hysterical (so sue me:).
Mary Poppins @ The Utah Shakespeare Festival: This one was hands-down, without a doubt our favorite play that we saw. And it only ran through the summer, so you can’t go see it, which makes me want to cry for you!!! Seriously, we loved it. Truthfully, we almost missed out on this one. Neither Ben nor I were particularly excited about it, but Mama Brown offered to get these tickets for our birthdays and we agreed. I’m so glad we got to see it!!! It was totally magical! The characters were impeccable, the set and costumes were stunning, everything was absolutely spot on. I seriously get teary-eyed thinking about how much I loved this play which is a little bit pathetic but also attests the the play’s wonderfulness.
Peter Pan @Tuacahn: I hate to start out on a bad note…but Peter Pan was the play I was most excited for and, unfortunately, most disappointed with. I think the main issue was that the script/songs they used weren’t from the Disney version. I think there’s a lot of power in recognition and familiarity. I think when most people think of Peter Pan it strikes some sort of chord because it’s a well known story. But none of the songs were familiar and even the story line was kind of different. I also felt like they didn’t take advantage of all the opportunities they had to do special effects. Yes, they had flying and that was awesome, but I thought there were lots of other parts where they could’ve thrown in something more. However, they did have a really awesome dance scene and the actors did a great job. Plus, there were liberal amounts of glittery fairy dust which is always a win in my book.
What we thought (overall)/ What we’d suggest:
- Ben and I were really worried that 5 plays in 3 days would be too much. But we were both surprised that it wasn’t! I felt like it was the perfect amount. We were able to get a good feel so we could compare and contrast without getting overrun by too much drama.
- We were also tremendously surprised to discover that we were way more impressed with the Shakespeare plays than the Tuacahn ones. Like by leaps and bounds. And it almost feels like heresy to say that but the USF plays were so…tight. Like there was hardly anything to point out that was wrong or unsatisfactory. The USF plays did a better job of transporting you to the play, in a way. Tuacahn is more show-y and it’s definitely an experience being outdoors with that gorgeous redrock background, so Tuacahn has its place. We just discovered USF to be more our flavor.
- So, considering the above, Ben and I agreed that if we did this again, we’d either only see one Tuacahn or none. I’ve seen The Little Mermaid at Tuacahn and it was mind-blowingly good…so they do have some stellar performances. I think we’d just be a little more picky about what we saw there.
- If we did this again, we’d actually see a Shakespeare play at the Shakespeare Festival. I had seen a few Shakespeare specific plays before so I wasn’t bummed about not seeing one this time. But I really want to experience the new globe theater (!!!) and give Ben a chance to experience that (cause it is super fun).
- Um, Tuacahn is in St. George. And St. George is hot!! I mean, I definitely survived…but if you’re a pregnancy lady, I would recommend not going when chances are it’ll be a scorcher…so pretty much wait until September. I guess it wasn’t too bad…but my feet were definitely on fire for the better part of the shows even though I got myself an iced lemonade that was super delicious.
- We hopped on board without really knowing what we were getting into, truthfully. We signed on and were told 5 plays in 3 days and the total amount for the two of us. As we were given our tickets when we went to the shows, I’d look at the price and think, “gosh, that’s expensive!” The shows do cost money. And I don’t think Ben and I would have done this if we hadn’t walked blindly into it. But we were both so glad we did. What I’m trying to say is that it’s expensive but totally worth every penny. In fact, Ben and I are already hoping to go to a show or two next year.
- Last suggestion is just to go! If you live in Utah, these two play venues are absolutely worth the price and the trip (if you’re not right in Southern Utah)! It’s fun and can be a family activity (if you choose the right show) that everyone will love!