Sunday, June 26, 2011

Review - The Scarlet Pimpernel...in the Park

The Scarlet Pimpernel: The New Musical Adventure - Original Broadway Cast RecordingIt'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.
The seating wasn't as good as indoor seating, but it was better than some of the concrete benches I've had outdoors before. We were placed on metal bleacher style benches which (fortunately) had back support as well. There was sufficient leg room and good elevation. They had decent lighting both for the stage and for ambient lighting, though perhaps they could benefit from a couple more high poweroverhead lights for the end of the night. The sound system was good and made for adequate listening experience...as long as the performers had mikes and their mikes were on. There were a few minor characters who had no microphones but had small solo lines and their lines were lost in the night air. There were a couple of times as well when the mikes were turned on too late for some of the primary characters. Audio problems like that are troublesome indoors but can be more so outdoors where there is more ambient noise and distraction.

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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2 comments:

K.M. Weiland said...

The Scarlet Pimpernel is a musical? I didn't know that! I love that story (especially the Leslie Howard movie version). I'll have to see if I can find out more about this musical of which you speak. Thanks for bringing it my attention!

Phoenix said...

Great review, Okie! I've never seen a live production of it but I've heard it's a lot of fun. I'm glad you guys had a good time - theater is such a great way to spend a summer evening :)