Last night my old drama and stage production teacher, Charlie Brown, was in the audience for Guys and Dolls. For those of you who don't know Charlie, he taught at Cyprus for about 30 years, and was the drama teacher there for about 25 of those thirty years.
Charlie grew up in the area, and we had talked before about how he used to watch movies in the Empress as a kid. After the show, he'd have to walk home; almost five miles.
Before going into teaching, he was an on-air radio personality for KKID radio in, I believe, Pendleton, Oregon. Before he retired 14 years ago, Charlie was known in theatrical circles throughout the Salt Lake Valley. After he retired, he served a senior mission at the Bountiful Regional Center (formerly Valley Music Hall) for the LDS Church. His son, Spencer, is a professional lighting designer who has worked in New York, and now does most of the shows at Hale Centre Theatre. Spencer is but one of Charlie's students to go into a professional career. And Charlie taught me most of what I know about theatre.
So I was anxious to hear what Charlie would have to say about the Empress and our production of Guys and Dolls. Here are some of the highlights of our telephone conversation this afternoon (we talked for more than an hour).
- He was extremely impressed with our Adelaide, and mentioned that she would make a wonderful Annie should we decide to do Annie Get Your Gun.
- He found Porter William's choreography to be extremely effective. He especially liked the way that Porter used the choreography to advance the story rather than making it a showcase of dance. His comment about the crap game ballet was interesting, he said, "I wouldn't have done it that way, but after watching it, I think it worked better [the way Porter did it].
- He loved Thomas Gasu's performance as Nathan Detroit.
- He thought Nate Unck did a wonderful job as 'Big Julie" but thought the character should have been named "mean Julie" because of Nate's smaller stature.
- He had tremendous praise for Rachael Dugan's sound mix. He said she did it better than the guy at Hale Centre.
- He thought Glen's portrayal of Nicely-Nicely was a hoot.
- And the list could go on. These are just the things I remember.
I asked him if he had any suggestions for us, and his biggest suggestion was that we needed to get the word out so we could fill the house for each performance. He told me that once people know about us, we'll be full for every show.
But we already knew that.