It's funny...when I first heard the soundtrack to the Scarlet Pimpernel musical years ago, I wanted to see it. Sadly, I missed out on any tours that came anywhere close to Salt Lake and it looked like it might be one of those I wouldn't ever see. And yet, I have now seen it 3 different times in the past year...at Hale Centre Theatre, Viewmont High School and most recently at the Murray Arts in the Park production.
Since I'd already seen the play twice recently, I probably wouldn't have purchased tickets to the Arts in the Park version...but since I won them, I was super excited to check it out.
Outdoor venues for plays leave me a little nervous. I've seen some places that do a great job. In fact, at the Utah Shakespearean Festival, I prefer their outdoor theatre to their indoor venues. But generally speaking, outdoor theaters have left a lot to be desired. I hadn't ever been to Murray Park, so I wasn't sure what to expect, but I didn't go in with overly high expectations for the venue.
Overall, the amphitheater was good and made for a fun experience. Even though the kids were a little fidgety (especially towards the end), I somehow felt a bit more relaxed about having them shuffle back and forth on the empty bleacher next to us (though I did still try to keep movement and noise to a minimum).
The production was well done as well. The actors were well cast and did a great job. There were one or two who seemed a bit nervous or inexperienced on the stage while there were others who completely hammed things up and were a ton of fun to watch. In both cases, these distracted somewhat from the primary characters on stage at the time...the hamming up and overacting came off as endearing and fun rather than as something to avoid.
Their stage was nice...a fairly average stage with good space but also with some creative use of wings and other areas off the stage proper. The orchestra is placed above and behind the main performance, which was kind of cool as we could see them better than in some venues. The setting, costumes and props were a lot of fun as well. As we arrived, Andrew saw some of the jail set sitting against the wall outside and we snapped a picture with him behind bars.
In the end, it was a great night and a lot of fun. The performance is general admission and priced at a community theater price which makes it accessible for family outings. They have a snack bar complete with grill so you can make a dinner outing as well (and the kids were overjoyed at the leniency in letting the goodies be taken to our seats).
Since it's outdoors, they didn't start the show until 8 PM which makes it a late night for young kids, but it was still fun. I'll have to keep an eye on their roster for future productions and perhaps take the family out there again.
And if you're a Pimpernel fan, the show is playing for another ~5 days so hop on down and take a look. It's not "professional broadway style theater", but it's well done and definitely a recommended community theater venue with professional flair.
3.5 out of 5 stars
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