Sunday, April 19, 2009

Disport: Hale Centre Theater

For several years we have obtained season tickets to Salt Lake City's Hale Centre Theater - HTC to those in "the know." We had seats yesterday for the afternoon performance of their latest show.

Disport: To occupy oneself with amusement or diversion.”

From its early beginnings as the local mom and pop "Hale Family Theater," it went big time when it expanded to a multi-million dollar facility on the "West Side" a few years ago.

One the one hand, trying to succeed in theater in a culture, who equates the term "locally produced" with years and years of church "road shows," is no small feat. Their productions often "stun" patrons, who then exit the theater with looks of incredulity muttering "where did they get all these out of town professionals."

On the other hand, the professionalism of the HTC campus seems, in some ways, to perplex even its owners and employees as well. For example, they haven't, even at this late date, figured out how to provide customer service at the concession stand. The rotunda was crowded, they had already begun seating, and there were probably 20 of us forming an impromptu line in front of the counter where two gals seemed to be busying themselves gossiping with someone they knew.

A lady at the front of the line asked one of the girls when they would begin selling, as it didn't look like they had any intention of doing it soon, and was condescendingly told "soon." Well, "soon" came and went several times before they finally took the first order, then acted like they were "making it up" as they went along. Clearly they haven't figured out the "concession part" of the business in the many years I've been going there.

On the other hand, "where did they get all that talent?" Many incredible voices sang their hearts out - (and even the audio guy seemed to have achieved enlightenment in running the volume knob so as not to cause our ears to bleed.)

On the other hand, if YOU, like me, jumped to the conclusion that the production's music would have been written by Andrew Lloyd Webber; then, YOU, like me would have been very confused as the play began. This was "Phantom" (by Arthur Kopit and Maury Yeston) NOT "Phantom of the Opera" (by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe).

The HTC playbill was almost identical to Webber's (perhaps deliberately so) but this was an "Operetta." I'm sure they surmised that if they would have publicized that fact they would have had empty seats.

If you never have,
You should.
These things are fun,
And fun is good.”
Dr. Suess

Now, I like musicals, understand operetta's and can even tolerate some opera's; but, unfortunately, these very professional quality singers were plying their craft on instantly forgettable songs. I couldn't even remember one melody as I left the theater.

On the other hand, the story-line you couldn't forget even if you tried — it was... odd! The antagonist in this version was not so much the "Phantom" but the farcically played, wannabe-diva, musical director's wife, Carlotta.

On the other hand, the fingernail-on-the-chalkboard, annoyingly-theatrical performance that she gave must have been good, for the audience applauded when the Phantom killed her.

And, on the last hand, as expected, their highest paid performer (the million dollar, hydraulic stage) not only worked flawlessly but was so overwhelmingly professional that it makes any HTC production worth seeing... operetta or not!


Post a Comment

Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I will, of course, be moderating all comments to make sure (a) they conform to the standards of good taste set forth by Offroading Home; and (b) nope that's pretty much it.