Monday, October 27, 2008

Auditions for Guys and Dolls

December 6 at the Empress Theatre

10 am to 1 pm

Ages 15 and up

Be prepared to sing 16 measures of an Upbeat Broadway song. Accompanist provided.

Bring resume, conflicts and headshot prefered.

All parts are open.

Show runs Feb 27 - Mar 30 Mon, Thurs, Fri, and Sat.

Auditions for Taming of the Shrew

November 15th 9-noon

Empress Theatre

Sixteen and older

Cold readings

Bring conflicts, resume and headshot (if possible)

Rehearsal schedule: some in December, Mon-Sat in Jan

Show runs Jan 22 through Feb 9 Mon, Thur, Fri, Sat with Sat matinees also.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

2009 Season Tickets on Sale Now!

Season tickets for the 2009 Empress Theatre season are on sale now. You won't want to miss any of these great shows next year, so why not purchase a season ticket now. And Season Tickets make great gifts, too.

Call the box office at (801) 347-7373 to get yours today!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Last Chance for
2nd Anniversary Gala
Dinner Reservations!

If you haven't made your reservation for the 2nd Anniversary Gala yet,... do it now!

The caterer needs a guest count no later than Wednesday, October 15th, so we need to have all reservations by that time.

Don't miss out on this great party for all of our Empress Theatre friends. Call the box office at (801)347-7373 right now, or make your reservation on line at the Empress Theatre's website.
Tell your friends to get their reservations in now too!

In addition to the dinner, there will be an awards ceromony, a preview of the 2009 season, and afterwards an evening of dancing the night away.

Empress Theatre to host town meeting October 17

Mayor Peter Carroon and other county officials will conduct a Magna town meeting at the Empress Theatre on Friday, October 17, 2008 from 7 to 9 P.M.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Auditions for Taming of the Shrew

Taming of the Shrew Auditions
December 15th 9-noon
Empress Theatre
Sixteen and older
Cold readings
Bring conflicts, resume and headshot (if possible)
Rehearsal schedule: some in December, Mon-Sat in Jan
Show runs Jan 22 through Feb 9 Mon, Thur, Fri, Sat with Sat matinees also.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Second Anniversary Gala & '09 Season Kick-Off

Mark Saturday, October 18, 2008 on you calendar!
That's the day we'll be celebrating the 2nd anniversary of the reopening of the Empress Theatre! And well be kicking off the 2009 Season Ticket Sales!
We're having a gala party, starting at 7:00 PM, with dinner, an awards program and a sneak peek at the 2009 season, followed by dancing. The affair will be held at Rocky Mountain Raceway, 6555 W 2100 S, Magna. Tickets for dinner, the program and dancing will be $45/couple or $25 per person. If you just want to come for the program and dancing, it's $7.50 per person. Businesses can purchase their own table for up to 8 people for $160, and will get a placard with their business name on the table.
We'll also be kicking off our 2009 season-ticket sales at the gala, so you won't want to miss it.
Dress will be semi-formal, with coat and tie suggested. Call the box office at (801) 347-7373 to reserve your tickets now!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cast List for Babes in Toyland

First rehearsal - Saturday September 20th, 2008 9:00 am at the Empress
If you cant make it please email
We will talk about scheduling conflicts at the first rehearsal, as I know that there will be some now that we have what nights you are performing.

CharacterMon, Wed, FriTues, Thur, Sat
BarnabyJohn PeckhamJoel Clark
GrumiaHeidi ColverAmanda Heywood
AlanSami RoeDanny Eggerts
MaryTara PeckhamAubrey Vance
TomJustin KofoedDallon Thorup
JaneShana DavisSamantha Pace
RigoNathan UnckTroy Larsen
GorzaCowboy AdamErnest McGillicutty
MarmadukeSteve HarmonBrady Flanagan
Widow PiperNancy JensenDebora Searcy
BoStormy BuckwayKristen Olsen
JackStephen MillsapDavid Wade
BlueTrenton OliphantAustin Wrathall
SantaRaymond BrownRaymond Brown
Lead GypsyTBAErin Fair
Gypsies and SoldiersEmmi OliphantHannah Ruth
Katie OliphantStacy Olsen
Mary Alice NelsonRossana Moreno
Daniel BelloRalph Faneus
ChorusCierra ManleyBrittany Millar
Chelsea WhiteTianna Wrathall
Lindsie BresslerAlyvia Wrathall
Charlene HarmonMelina Wrathall
Alina ColverTimsy Rowe
Melody ColverTalyssa Swan
Harley BeckJasmine Dean
Christina OliphantKylee Clark
Jennifer OliphantTera White
Talissa KofoedElizabeth Jane Nuttall

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


For those of you who've wondered what happened to all the posts on the blog, well, we've been reorganizing things a wee bit.

During the August board meeting, the Board of Directors changed the by-laws. The change created a new position of Executive Director for all of OHPAA and eliminated the Empress Theatre Executive Director position. It also eliminated all of the other positions and responsibilities that were held by board members. The new structure prohibits a board member from being either the Executive Director or in any position that reports directly to the Executive Director. Trent Oliphant, who had been filling in as the "acting" (now there's a concept for a theatrical organization...) Executive Director of the Empress Theatre was named as the new OHPAA Executive Director.

Over the last month, Trent has been creating and filling various first tier jobs under his direction, and the board ratified his selections in yesterday's meeting. Nolan Mitchell was named as Artistic Director, Joline Walgamott is now the Development Director, Porter Williams is Marketing Director, and Kathy Wilcox is remaining in her old position as house manager.

As a result of these changes, two vacancies were created on the board of directors when both Trent and Nolan had to give up their seats to take the executive positions. Mike Caldwell, the vice chairman of the Board also received a call for a senior LDS mission to Mongolia, so Mike will be resigning from the board soon as well. So in last night's board meeting, Mike stepped down as vice chairman, and Mason Heywood was elected to that position.

That left the secretary's position vacant. I think the other board members think that I'll be so busy taking notes that it will shut me up, so they elected yours truly to be the new secretary. Little do they know...

So I will be posting as the board's secretary from now on. Maybe some other posts, too.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Wait Until Dark Auditions

Audition notice for Wait Until Dark

Date: August 30th
Time: 9 am to 2 pm
Place: Empress Theatre

Auditioners need to be at least 18.

Anyone auditioning must come prepared to do some cold reading and must be available for at least one half an hour of the audition time period. For audition times please call (801) 347-7373

Show runs October 24th thru November 17th Monday, Friday and Saturdays.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Seven Brides Review by Mary Margarita

You'll need lots of salt and limes for this one, since the "5 margarita" review says if the review were for a book, "Best read I've had in a long time. Will re-read it several times until the cover falls off." (For you Latter-day Saints out there that don't understand the reference, a "margarita" is an alcoholic cocktail served in a salt rimmed glass, and with limes.)

Here's what she said about the show itself:

The play is performed by local actors from the Oquirrah (sic) Hills Performing Arts
Alliance. However, you couldn't tell, I felt like I viewed a Broadway play, well
alright, maybe an off Broadway play.

Pre-show there was an old fashioned,
finger-lickin', lip-smackin', rip roarin', dutch oven dinner. Delicious, and for
a good cause, help to fund our community non-profit theatre.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Win-Win Solution

Would you invest an hour of your time to raise $50 for the Empress Theatre?

Would you invest an hour of your time planning your financial future?

Here's the deal: We've just formed a business alliance with Ameriprise Financial Ameriprise, (ranked 296 on the Fortune 500) has been around for more than 110 years providing solutions to help people change how they think about their money. Their specialty is creating financial plans to help their clients reach their personal goals and dreams. Their unique and comprehensive Dream > Plan > Track>® approach helps their clients create and manage a personalized and long-term financial strategy. Go check 'em out!

If you call Amy at (801) 864-5280, schedule a free initial consultation with a certified financial advisor, and let her know that you were referred from the Empress Theatre, Ameriprise will donate $50 to OHPAA! There's no obligation beyond spending an hour with the advisor. Now if everyone of the 482 unique visitors to this blog over the last month were to schedule an appointment, that would be over $24,000 for the Empress Theatre. How cool would that be?

And, if Ameriprise's services are a match for you and you sign up as a client, Ameriprise will donate another $50 to OHPAA.

What are you waiting for? Call Amy now! (801) 864-5280.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Other Stages

OK, this post is only for those of you that have already seen Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. If you haven't seen our show on the Empress Theatre stage, then go reserve you tickets now...

Go ahead, I'll wait.

Got 'em reserved. Good!

Laura Bedore was kind enough to invite my family to the dress rehearsal of Twelve Dancing Princesses which opens tomorrow night at the Off-Broadway Theatre and runs through August 18. It was the most fun I've had at a non-Empress Theatre show this season!

Laura directed, and also stars as the Fairy Godmother/Narrator/Wicked Witch, and features more than a dozen actors who have graced the Empress Theatre Stage in recent months. Brady Flannagan, Nate Unck, Aldo Gomez from The Jesters Royale (with Nate playing a Jester... When he's not pretty in pink); Scott Ferrin and Aubrey Vickers from It's a Wonderful Life; Patrick Aldeman, Brinana & Brooke Bedore from Midsummer Night's Dream and Chris Aldeman and Drew Keddington from Much Ado About Nothing; Jourdan Dixon from "Work in Progress." There weren't any printed programs, so I'm sure I missed a couple of folks.

I'm not going to spoil the show for you, but there are some wonderful surprises. There is something for everyone: Opera, French cuisine, buff jocks, ledherhosen, hot latin lovers, aristocrats in powdered wigs and frogs in need of kisses.

If you only get to see one show this month... Well, I gotta tell you to go see Seven Brides, because that's my job. But if you can see two shows this month, go see Twelve Dancing Princesses. You won't be disappointed.

Oh, and what a wonderful way to take a ride on 'Max.' We caught Max at Smiths (8000 W & 3500 S) at 5:59 PM and arrived about 6:40 at OBT, which is just across Main Street from the 3rd South Trax station.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Strongest Opening Night Ever!

I only need four words to describe Seven Brides for Seven Brothers opening tonight: Sold Out! Standing Ovation!

Steve Harmon (Adam) and Liz Oates (Milly), and all the rest of the cast were in top form tonight and wowed the sell out crowd in the Empress. This was the strongest opening night I've seen at the Empress.

If you weren't there tonight, you'd better get your tickets quick, cuz the word is gonna get out!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Jesters Royale

OHPAA is happy to announce "The Jesters Royale" as our comedy improv group!

The Jesters Royale will perform on the Empress Theatre stage every Friday and Saturday evening at 10:00 PM. Admission is just $5. (Through Seven Brides for Seven Brothers admission will be included with your tickets to a Friday or Saturday Seven Brides performance.) Come check 'em out!

"So, what's different?" you may ask. "Why the name change?"

Work in Progress was the name given to an independent improv group that performed at the Empress Theatre. The Jesters Royale is an OHPAA sponsored program, and there have been some personnel changes as well, though most of your favorite actors are now part of The Jesters Royale. So now the Empress now has her official royal jesters...

For more information, visit The Jesters Royale website

Monday, July 7, 2008

4th of July Thank You's

A big special thank you to everyone who helped us celebrate the 4th of July Empress Theatre Style!

Suzanne, Michele, Pam, Tammy, Dr. Haggart, Douglas, Amy, Ginny and all the ushers and tour guides and other people whose names I don't have who helped with the yard sale and the theatre tours. We made a little over $800, which is good money for a yard sale. I'm not sure we made enough to justify doing all the work everyone did again, but we're that much closer to our goal of raising the down payment on the Empress! Way to go!

Steve, Liz, and all the cast of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and the cast of "Jesters Royale" (It was as big a surprise for me as it was for you) for your presence in the parade and for passing out the fliers. A special personal thank you to Adam McKinlay for rescuing Amy and Ephraim with the 4-wheeler.

Laura Bedore, KOSY-FM and Green Team Utah for providing our parade announcer. As usual, Laura was terriffic!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Clarification on the Chuck Wagon Dinner

I've just learned that some folks are confused about the ticket prices for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and the the Chuck Wagon Dinner before Friday and Saturday evening performances.

The ticket prices for the shows are $11.00 for adults, $10 for seniors and students, and $9 for children under 12. For Monday and matinee performances tickets are $8.50 for everyone.

Before Friday and Saturday evening perfomances we are having a catered "Chuckwagon" dinner in the parking lot. The combined price of the show and the dinner is $20 for adults, $19 for seniors and students. Children are $18. The dinner is going to be scrumptious! But it is completely optional; you can see the show without buying the dinner.

The On-line box office shows the "Regular" price as $20, but it's a dropdown list and you can select your seat with or without the dinner. Please call me at 864-5240, or the box office at 347-7373, if you have problems navigating the EZTicketLive screens and we'll get you hooked up!

But hurry, 'cuz tickets are goin' fast!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Something a little more fun...

How much do you know about Seven Brides for Seven Brothers? Before the show opens, take our little quiz and see if you know the story. You'll find it in the sidebar on the left side of the blog!
(Cast members can take the quiz, but if you don't get 100%, well...)
Post your score as a comment, if you dare! Challenge your friends to beat your score!

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers Rehearsal

I finally had a chance to go to a Seven Brides rehearsal last night! (I'm designing the lights, and it's usually a good idea to find out where the director is putting the actors. They always find some new place to put somebody where it's a bit challenging to get light! Seven Brides is no exception!) Douglas and I will be setting lights tonight after the rehearsal, and probably tomorrow after the parade, which could be interesting for anyone taking a tour of the theatre.

Liz Oates managed to get a hold of some rehearsal pictures Erica Jones and her mother took of one of the rehearsals and posted them on her blog.
Things are coming along wonderfully on the production. Porter is an extremely talented director-choreographer, and he's put together a great cast for this show. Get your tickets early, and tell your friends!

Capital Plan Phase I: Purchase the Empress Theatre

As most of you know, we're kicking off a capital project fund raising drive with a "super-colossal" yard sale at the Empress Theatre on the 4th of July. Since we're asking for donations, I think you probably want to know what the money will be used for. The overall project will be in several phases over the next few years, so I'll serialize it in several posts as the information becomes appropriate to release.

The first goal is to own the Empress Theatre mortgage free in five years or less.

The down payment is $20,000. We've already raised $8,000, so we need to raise another $12,000. We've set August 31, 2008, as the milestone deadline to make the down payment.

The total purchase price is $240,000. Once we make the down payment, we'll have to service a $220,000 mortgage. We'll need to raise enough to pay that off over five years. Of course, raising it sooner would be better than paying interest.

So the numbers on this part of the project are: $12,000 by August 31, 2008, and $220,000 (in addition to the $12,000) by July 4th, 2013 or sooner.

Since this is just one phase of the overall project, if we raise more than these amounts, the money will go toward our other goals. (I'll post more about them in future posts.) If we don't make the $12,000 milestone by the end of August, we will have to renegotiate our agreement with the Ware family.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Poll Results: Favorite Male Lead

The poll results are in: Jerry Dunn, who played Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof has been voted the favorite male lead. Out of 85 votes cast, Jerry got 47, or 55% of the vote. Nate Unck's performance as Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat got 30 votes (35%) to come in second.

When I posted that poll, I didn't realize that there were only three musical among the seven shows represented. It doesn't surprise me that the musical actors out scored the non-musical performers, but its like comparing apples to oranges. Maybe we'll run this as two polls, one for musicals and one for non-musicals.

Check back soon. I'll have another poll up soon.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

4th of July in Magna!

We've been getting a lot of donations for the "Super Colossal Yard Sale," and the Tribune and the Provo Herald have both published our notices. Joline is going to need some help tagging and pricning stuff. We can use a couple more hands to help run the sale too. If you can help, call the box office and let Suzanne know!

In addition to the yard sale, we'll be selling concessions both in the parking lot and in the Empress Theatre lobby. And we'll be offering tours of the Empress, so bring your friends that haven't seen a show yet.

In the meantime, there are some other cool things going on in Magna on the 4th:

  • Lions Club Chuck Wagon Breakfast from 8:00 to Noon!

  • The Senior Citizens Center is having a rumage sale (We're the copycats!)

  • The Arts Council of Magna is having an art show featuring local artists in the Magna Chamber of Commerce building

  • The annual Magna-tude parade will start at 12:30. Laura Bedore will be announcing the parade from near the Empress!

  • All of the normal Copper Community Park Festivities will be be happening, including the carnival.

  • Fireworks after dark.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Homeschool and the Theatre

One of the cool things about homeschooling my children and being involved with the Empress Theatre is that we can build our curriculum around the shows we're working on. It can be pretty amazing where this process can take you. For example...

  • Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is obviously set in 1850 Oregon, so there's that whole slice of Amercian History to cover.

  • Seven Brides is based on a short story by Stephen Vincent Binet called "The Sobbin' Women" which is a wonderful way to get into the writings of Binet. "By the Waters of Babylon" and "The Devil and Daniel Webster" are a couple of my personal favorites.

  • "The Devil and Daniel Webster" is cited as an "unofficial" legal case in The United States ex rel Gerald Mayo v. Satan and His Staff (54 F.R. D. 282 - 1971), which opens up discussions about legal jurisdiction and procedure. Can a man actually sue Satan?

  • Binet's story, in turn, is based on The Rape of the Sabine Women, from Plutarch. This opens up the history and mythology of the founding of Rome.

  • The notion of bride kidnapping has been practiced in many parts of the world, and still is in some parts of the lower steppes of Asia and parts of Africa. This is a stepping off point for discussions of different marriage customs, morals, and scruples. Did you know that the tradition of carrying the bride across the threshold dates from the custom of kidnapping her first?

  • The "rape" in The Rape of the Sabine Women means to abduct or kidnap, and has nothing to do with the modern meaning of sexual violation, which leads to discussions of how our language changes over time. Since it comes from the same Latin root (Raptio) that is the source for "rapture," "rapine," "rapacious," "ravish," and "raptor," we can expand vocabulary.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

So here's this week's trivia question, just for Leisa: Be the first to tell me who painted the picture accompanying this post, and where it hangs and you'll get two tickets to Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Volunteer Discount

Did you know that Empress Theatre volunteers get a 15% discount on program advertising?

Here's what you can do with it... Obviously you can place an ad in the program. Or on the email tickets, or on this blog... That's pretty cool if you happen to own a business.

But what if you don't own a business? Well, you can sell ad space to other people that do own businesses and keep the difference for yourself. Lets see, a full page ad costs $185, so that's about $27.75 you'd get to put in your pocket. And the really cool part is that you get the difference every time they renew their ad too.

There are still a couple of days left to get an ad into the Seven Brides for Seven Brothers program. The ad deadline is Friday, June 27th.

So what are you waiting for?

A Lesson Learned

Yesterday evening, Mara, Peter, Neeva, Meyrick and I jumped in the van and drove over to the Empress for closing night of Big Bad Musical. When we got there, the lobby was packed, there were two lines at the will call desk, and Joline had jumped in to help behind the concession counter.

I slipped over to the will call desk and told Kathy that, in the off chance that she got everyone seated and still had a some seats left over, that the five of us were there. She laughed at me, then showed me the waiting list. And that was after the ushers had deployed all of the temporary seating.

When we left to come back home, Douglas Nelson was giving up his seats to another patron. The kids were a bit disappointed that they didn't get to see the show again, but I was elated that our young performers' theatre had gone "solid with a waiting list."

There will come a time, and I don't think it's too far off, when this is the norm. I guess I'll just have to get used to reserving my seats on line.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Big Bad Acquitted Nicely

The opening night jury voted overwhelmingly to acquit Mr. Big B. Wolf in last night's premier of The Big Bad Musical, undoubtedly a result of the talent displayed by Justin Kofoed, who nailed the character on stage; playing the Big Bad Wolf somewhere between James Dean's Rebel Without a Cause and Henry Winkler's Fonz. The rest of the cast and crew acquitted themselves nicely as well.

Ordinarily I won't review an Empress Theatre production on this blog. I'm usually too close to present an unbiased opinion, and I normally have to look at a production through so many different viewpoints that a review would either be a fractured mess, longer than Gone with the Wind, or would otherwise get me into trouble. But since all I did was make sure the program got to the printer, I'm not quite so close to this one...

It is important to remember that this is a "young performers" production. The whole point of the production is to help young actors, singers and dancers develop their talents. With that in mind, and noting that there were only a handful of adults involved beyond a little advising here and there, the performance I saw last night was remarkable.

Here are some of the highlights:

Madison Ford's portrayal of the Evil Stepmother, from costuming to posture and gesture was so good her parents should either be worried, or they should be preparing to send her to a real law school. My only complaint about her performance was that her blocking kept her back to the stage right audience for most of the performance.

Shannon Jones did a wonderful job on her big song, despite having a touch of a cold. Her characterization of the Fairy God Mother/Prosecuting Attorney was consistent, with enough sweetness that we could believe she was FGM, enough grit that we could believe she was a lawyer, and enough histrionics to keep us laughing.

Skyler Blumel was hilarious as Judge Wise Old Man; this young man has an incredible amount of talent. Keep your eye on him. In fact, keep one eye on Skyler throughout the performance and watch his reactions to the action on stage.

Was it a flawless performance? No. Young performers tend to be quieter than more experienced actors, so the singing, especially on chorus numbers, was a bit unbalanced. (Although the "Wolfettes" rocked!) The choreography wasn't as polished as it could have been. There were a few other things that I noticed that didn't quite work.

But comparing this to high school and junior high school productions I've seen, it was significantly above the average; excellent, even outstanding in places. Definitely a good show for children and the family; my younger children loved it.

Unlike the real legal system, which prohibits being tried twice for the same offense, Mr. Wolf will have to face a jury four more times: tonight at 7:00 PM, tomorrow at 2:00 and again at 7:00, and then Monday at 7:00.

You are hereby called to jury duty!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

There but for the grace of Leo go we...

The Laramie Boomarang in Laramie, WY is reporting that the City of Laramie has issued a demolition order for the Fox theatre, and is now seeking funds to tear the building down.

According to the story, a consultant was hired to determine whether the old theatre, which was built in 1912 and originally called the Empress Theatre (first picture) and then later changed to the Fox Theatre, could be saved.

The consultant determined that the building is beyond salvage.

Judging from the movie title on the marquee, the second picture shows the Fox Theatre ca. 1939. The movie, Disputed Passage, starring Dorothy Lamour and Akim Tamiroff and JohnHoward premiered on October 27, 1939. I just love that period art-moderne styling.

The Empress Theatre closed on June 26, 1939, and reopened a six months later with the changed facade and new name. The grand re-opening was September 14, 1939. The second photo would have been taken just a couple of weeks later.

Internet sources indicate different times for closure. Some say the theatre closed in the 1950s or 60s, while the Boomarang says the theatre operated until the mid 1970s.

The final picture shows the Fox theate as it looked in 2005. I don't know about you, but I think the demise of the American movie theatre is a cultural loss. I'm just glad we have our Empress!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The "Leo Awards"

Last Sunday, the American Theatre Wing handed out the 2008 Tony awards. In the Heights took the award for best musical, best original score written for the theatre, best choreography, and best orchestrations, and was nominated in nine other categories. If you want to know more about the Tonys or the winners, visit the official website

The Tony awards get their name from Antoinette Perry, an actress, director, producer and the dynamic wartime leader of the American Theatre Wing, who passed away just before the awards program started in 1947.

Well, I'm thinking we need to have a "Leo." We should have a black-tie (very optional) gala every year around Tony time and give awards to the best of the Empress Theatre's talent, both on and off of the stage. And at the same time we can honor and thank our patrons and benefactors for their support through the year.

And what a great way to honor Leo Ware's memory.

Tell me what you think!

In the meantime, here are the poll results from our "What was your favorite show" poll. Only 25 folks voted, so there's a very wide margin of error, but...

The first runner up is ... Pirates of Penzance with 21% of the vote
The second runner up is (and this surprised me given the smaller crowds we had)... The Mystery of Edwin Drood with 32% of the vote.

And the winner is ... (Ralph, could I have a drum roll please)...
Fiddler on the Roof. (BTW, Fiddler won Tony awards in 1965 for best musical and 8 other categories. In 1972, it won a special Tony for becoming the longest-running musical in Broadway history.)

Be sure to vote for your favorite male lead in our current poll.

Empress once again a star

On the bus ride in to work this morning, several of the other passengers on the bus were discussing the detour the bus is taking around Magna Main Street.

Some of you may have notice the banner hung across Main Street announcing 4th of July Fireworks. Those of you who've looked closely may have wondered why the banner has the name of some other town on it.

An there's a new marquee hanging in front of the Empress Theatre. And planters on the side walks, a "grand opening" sign on the Magna Hardware building, and a few other odd bits of decoration around the Empress Theatre.

Our 91 year old former burlesque queen is once again a star in her own right. Film crews are shooting a movie called, if I heard correctly, Samantha D. This is the third movie shot in the Empress Theatre block in the last year, and the second to have featured the Empress Theatre. (Dadnapped, scheduled for release in October, and American Pastime are the other two.)

On the subject of movies shot in Magna, here's a trivia question for you. What Gary Sinise Molly Ringwald miniseries was partially shot near the Empress Theatre, and where was it shot?
I'll give a pair of show tickets to the first person to post the correct answer in a comment.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Old Glory in her rightful place atop the Empress

Last Fourth of July, I noticed that the Empress Theatre has a flag pole directly above the sign. I also noticed that there was no flag on it. I was aghast! Expecially since I had donated a flag to the theatre shortly after St. Patrick's Day.

Turns out the flag pole didn't have any of the rigging needed to actually fly a flag.

I made a promise to myself that I would get that fixed before Flag Day this year.

Well, the day before Flag Day was Friday the 13th of June. I wasn't superstitious before that day, but I am now!
Starting on Thursday evening, my kids started getting sick, one by one, until all but two of them were down. About 2:30 Friday afternoon, Amy called and said the baby had rubbed some muscle rub into his eyes.
When I tried to come home early to help out my very stressed wife, I discovered that the brand-new right front tire on my pick-up (a tire with less than 200 miles on it) was flat. It had picked up a staple. Jack was stuck and couldn't get under the frame of the truck. Finally forced it down and got it into position. A piece of the jack handle was missing. I had to call Amy to come rescue me with another jack and a portable air compressor.
Amy got sick later that evening, and I finally caught the stupid bug around 3:00 AM on Saturday.

So, I didn't get the flag pole fixed in time for Flag Day.
But... "Old Glory" flew for Father's Day!
Now to figure out how to paint the pole...

Cast for Seussical

Man, remind me not to invite you guys to an Easter Egg hunt. This has been on the website for a while but you have to look for it. Quick, before Horton hatches it!

Cast for Seussical:
Cat in the Hat . . . . . . . .Thomas Gasu
JO-Jo . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Jasmine Dean
Horton the Elephant . . . Shawn Maxfield
Getsrude McFuzz . . . . .Aubrey Vance
Maysie LaBird . . . . . . . Samanta Pace
Sour Kangaroo . . . . . . .Cynthia Johnson
Young Kangaroo . . . . . Jaden Johnson
General Schmitz . . . . . .Nolan Mitchell
Mr. Mayor . . . . . . . . . .TBA
Mrs. Mayor . . . . . . . . .Amanda Heywood

The Wickersham Brothers
Austin Wrathall
Skyler Bluemel
.Jordan Wanberg
Brandon Case.
Dallon Thorup
Adam McKinlay
Troy Larsen

Bird Girl Chorus
Macall Herpich.
Maegan Herpich
Madison Ford
Shannon Jones
Annalyn Ruth
Hannah Ruth
Cheryl Cripps
Connie Cripps
Kimberly Pettit
Krystin Christopherson

Doug Green
Jim Schroeder
Emily Herpich
Ann Herpich
Lila Cripps
Spencer Lawson
Nicole Mitchell
Alyvia Wrathall
Tianna Wrathall
Stacie Brown
Starly Bluemel
Kenichi Nakashima
Akemi Nakashima

Jungle Creatures
Jennifer Pearce
Sara Barlocker
Samantha Christensen
Kylee Clark
Amanda Shinall
TraQuell Gasu
Tyanna Gasu
Alissa Christensen
Brittney De St. Jeor
Mary Alice Nelson
The Grinch . . . . . . . .Doug Green
Vlad Vladikoff . . . . . Emily Herpich

Ann Herpich
Lila Cripps
Nicole MitchellCadets
Spencer Lawson
Kenichi Nakashima
TraQuell Gasu
Tyanna Gasu
Alissa Christensen
Brittney De St. Jeor
Mary Alice Nelson
Amanda Shinall

Please remember that the Chorus is used throughout the show, there are a lot of group numbers and numbers where people will be playing other characters. If you decide you cannot do the show, please email Glen Carpenter at you for sharing your talents with us. FIRST REHEARSAL SATURDAY JUNE 21ST FROM 10AM TO 1:30PM

Friday, June 13, 2008

A 4th of July request

While I'm on the subject of the 4th of July, there is a flag pole on top of the Empress Theatre. It would look terriffic to have our flag flying proudly up there, but the pole is in need of paint and repair.

It would be even more cool to have someone design an Empress Theatre flag that could fly below Old Glory, and maybe even have a bunch of them over the sidewalk in front of the theatre.

Who is up for these two projects?

More Surprises

What do you get when a theatre cleans out its property and set storage, and needs to raise $12,000 in a big hurry? One Super-Colossal Yard Sale!

We are tentatively scheduling this mega event for July 4th in the theatre's parking lot. We've got a snow mobile, a couple of electronic organs, a fountain, and some other stuff, but (and this is the cool part) we need more stuff to sell. So all of you that agreed to clean out the garage for your Dad's (that's a hint for those of you who have no money for a Fathers' Day gift) this weekend now have something to do with all that stuff.

It's a perfect win-win-win!

Dad gets a clean garage, you get to make a donation to your favorite charity, and we get to sell the stuff to help raise the $12,000 we need to make the down payment on the Empress Theatre. And you'll feel so much better when it's done. Just bask in it.

Now for those of you who don't have garages, don't have fathers, or just want more to bask in: we need volunteers to put the whole show together. Call, email, text or stop me or Joline on the street to volunteer. But volunteer now.

This is going to be so much fun!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Big Break for a Lucky Actor!

We have an opening in the cast of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. We need to replace Caleb, the third brother, or we will have to change the show to Seven Brides for Six Brothers, and the whole alphabetical brother thing (not to mention the color scheme for the costumes) will go right out the window....

So, all you male actor types out there, here is what we need:

We are looking for one male to play the part of Caleb in theEmpress
Theatre's Production of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Must have singing, dancing and acting experience. Show runs Mon, Fri, and Sat nights July 11th through August 11th. Must be able to attend all performances. Rehearsals are Tuesday through Thursday evening 7-10 and Saturday mornings 10-2 with full week rehearsals during tech week. Part needs to be filled ASAP! Please contact Porter Williams if interested at(801) 856-9534 or

Fourth of July Parade Surprise

One of the unique and really cool things about Magna is the annual 4th of July Parade. You can read more about it, and the drive to restore the town float here.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, the parade sponsors contacted OHPAA and asked if we could find a "theater geek" or two to announce the parade. Several names were tossed around (including mine by some sleep deprived crazy person). We thought Steve Harmon might do it, or maybe a couple of the W.I.P players. But then we remembered that we have the Salt Lake Valley's uber theatre geek among our list of friends. We didn't know if she'd do it though. I mean, we were asking her to commit her holiday to the parade.

So a couple of us asked her if she'd consider it. She said, "Yes, I'd love too." Then she asked if we could get some other people entered into the parade. I hope we got that all hooked up.

The last email I got from her, she told me, "I'm there. You can't get out of it now!" Which has me a little frightened. What is it that I can't get out of? Why is it that short red headed women can be sooooo intimidating?

Any way, our parade announcer for this year is going to be the host of KOSY-FM's Show Tunes Saturday Night, Laura Bedore.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

What was your favorite show?

Go ahead and vote for your favorite show from the 2007 season before the poll closes in three days.

(Did you know that you can't change poll questions after someone votes. Midsummer Nights Room! I must have been dreaming.)

Board Meeting: The good, the bad, and the not very pretty...

As I predicted a few posts back, Joline resigned as Executive Director of the Empress Theatre. Trent Oliphant has been named Acting Executive Director until the board finishes its reorganization and revision of the by-laws. Joline isn't gone completely though; she has agreed to help out with our development efforts. So expect to see Joline working on marketing and fundraising. (I am personally ecstatic about this!)
But for those of you who volunteer at the theatre, call Trent when you need something... Or Nolan, he is still the Artistic Director of the Empress Theatre.
Joline has been a wonderful asset to OHPAA and to the Empress, and I want to extend my personal thank you to her for going way beyond the call of duty. She is going to be a tremendous asset in the Development Department.
And we are going to need that help, as the board voted to proceed with phase one of the capital plan. In this phase we exercize the option to purchase the Empress Theatre from Leo's estate, and purchase the Magna Hardware building and all the parking to the west and north. I'm not going to go into a lot of detail on the arrangements, other than to say that we're getting a really good deal on the four properties involved.
But taking this action gives us a couple of serious challenges.
First, we need to raise the remaining down payment for the Empress Theatre. Our purchase option expires in August, and we need to raise $12,000 for the rest of the down payment.
Second, the deal on the hardware building will require us to pay $650/month for about a year, and then come up with $15,000. After that we'll either have to make payments of about $1,000/month, or find funding to pay off that purchase.
Under all of the scenarios, we'll need to either refinance the hardware building in three years, and the Empress Theatre in five, or develop funding to pay them off. And none of these scenarios includes anything for rennovation of the hardware building.
All of this is complicated by our current cash shortage. We can probably get grant money to at least help with some of these costs, but in order to apply for the grants, we need to have an audit. And to get the audit, we need to pay the auditor...
We are working with Salt Lake County and others to develop some of this funding, and I will be writing grant proposals like mad for the next little while, but we need your donations too!
And if you can't make a donation yourself, then we still need you! We need people to do everything from stuff envelopes to writing grant proposals.
We have, in fact, a need for someone to organize a super-colossal yard sale. I'm betting that you'd have a lot of fun with this; getting donated items to go with the two organs and the snowmobile we already have to sell; figuring out where and when to have the sale; advertising it and getting the word out. Come on, volunteer! You know you want to!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Fund Raising Update

WE DID IT!!! Thank you to everyone who donated or who helped recruit others to our cause. We didn't get enough in time to go with a color program, but we will have a slick black and white book.

Here's the honor roll of donors:

Betsy Vandenberghe pledged $50-$100

Jann Lowder, $100

Laura Bedore, $100

Kathy Wilcox, $100

Clyde Hendrickson, $200


Rocky Mountain Power, $1580!

The Rocky Mountain Power donation is kewl. Clyde works for Rocky Mountain, and has done a bunch of volunteer accounting work for us. The power company has a program where employees can volunteer their time to a non-profit like OHPAA and the Empress Theatre, and the company will make a donation based on the number of hours donated.

So, a big thank you to Clyde Hendrickson and to Rocky Mountain Power. And to everyone else that contributed, large and small.

All of you other volunteers out there that have regular day jobs: check with your employers and see if they have a similar program. If everyone who volunteers at the Empress Theatre worked for a company like Rocky Mountain Power, my job would be soooooo much easier!

And all this was in Magna!

Somedays I have a hard time thinking about what I want to post. Not today! My wife had to work last night, and that left me with the kids... Well sorta.

Mirinda was running lights for closing night of The Foreigner (which had a really good crowd with a large contingent from the Harmon Home Senior Center in West Valley! It's always nice to see busses parked outside the theatre, and last night there were 2 of them!) Damia was rehearsing Big Bad Musical in the basement of Zions Bank. Since Lessa has left for Boot Camp in South Carolina, that left me with Mara, Peter, Neeva, Meyrick and Ephraim.

Mara & Peter wanted to go see Foreigner one last time, so I took all five of the kids to the show. Ephraim was too wiggly to sit through it, and Meyrick wasn't far behind, so I left Mara and Peter and took the three younger ones...

To the concert in Pleasant Green Park sponsored by the Arts Council of Magna! 'Seriously Evan' was playing. I chewed Starr Campbell out for not getting me date information sooner so I could post it in advance, so now I'm stuck with only being able to report after the fact. Neeva and Meyrick played in the playground while Ephraim and I listened to the music. For you Seriously Evan fans out there, the trio is going into the studio this morning to begin cutting an album.

I find it remarkable that there are so many different things going on in Magna. And the list keeps growing! There are two or three more concerts in the concert-in-the-park series; OHPAA and the Arts Council are teaming up to sponsor a Cultural Arts Celebration in August. The Arts Council is sponsoring an art contest and exhibit over the 4th of July. The Magna Parade is getting better every year. (There's a big surprise coming with the parade this year, but it gets its own post. So stay tuned!)

Amy was so jealous when she got home from work!

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Voices of Nature

As an audiophile, I tend to look for the esoteric in recordings. Back in the day before iPods and CD's, when we bought our music on vinyl record albums and reel to reel tapes (yes, I still have a working R-R deck and factory tapes in my collection), I used to buy the "audiophile" pressings and direct to disc recordings that were designed to bring out the most in the recording and demand the best from your sound equipment. (Back then I had about $10,000 in personal audio gear, no wife and no children.) One of my favorite recordings was a "half-speed mastered" copy of Bernie Krause's Citadels of Mystery. This is still one of my favorites, and one of the few that I've actually transfered to digital from the original album.

As a sound designer for the Empress, finding really cool, high quality "sound effects" is a major part of the fun. I've been known to spend hours browsing the sound files at sound dogs to find just the right thunder clap or door creak for an effect. Remember the crypt sound effect from The Mystery of Edwin Drood? The door creaking open, then shut and slamming, and those wonderfully mis-timed foot falls as Jasper sneaks up on Durdles. Putting stuff like that together is sheer heaven for me.

This morning, in my email I got news that combines both of these passions and then some! It seems Bernie Krause has gone and turned scientist and is working on a project to record the sounds of nature, what he calls the "biophony" before is it completely drowned out by the "anthrophony" or man-made sound. Not only is Bernie recording thes wonderful nature sounds, but he is using them to create music. If anyone wants to get a Father's Day gift for me, get it here.

Go visit the site even if you don't want to get me a gift, it's worth the trip. Oh, and the project is a non-profit that you can support too. (After you make a donation to OHPAA.)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Four Part Harmony
Voice Workshops at the Empress Theatre

This summer, the Oquirrh Hills Performing Arts Alliance is proud to offer a series of four vocal music workshops!

The workshops are open to people between the ages of 12 and 18, and will be taught by Anna Hunter. The cost for each session is $75. You can take any or all of the sessions. Call the Empress Box Office to register, (801) 347-7373.

  • Session 1: July 14-18, 8 AM to Noon. Performance at 1 PM on July 19th

  • Session 2: July 14-18, 1 PM to 5 PM, Performance at 1 PM on July 19th

  • Sesison 3: July 28-August 1, 8 AM to Noon, Performance at 1 PM on Aug 2nd

  • Session 4: July 28-August 1, 1 PM to 5 PM, Performance at 1 PM on Aug 2nd

The workshops will be held at the Empress Theatre. The performance location is still to be determined.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Programs for Big Bad Musical

Okay, so here's what happened...

We had a smash hit with Joseph, that covered our expenses and allowed us to reimburse some long outstanding purchases and cover some other deferred expenses.

"An Evening of One Act Plays" was an educational program, not a major production. It was artisticly and educationally successfull, but it didn't make us any money. We may have even lost a bit on the deal. But that's why we're a non-profit organization.

We hoped that The Foreigner would ride on Joseph's coattails and be successful at the box office. Based on this expectation, we committed cash to secure the rights to Big Bad Musical and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. And we started putting money into Seven Brides.

Well, Foreigner didn't do as well as we'd planned. It was a risky show for us to do. It's not well known outside of theatre circles, and it has some language and situations that some find objectionable. It just wasn't what our audience wanted. It's a wonderful show, and Porter and the cast have done a marvelous job with it. But we just didn't draw the paying audience we expected for it. Hopefully, when all the beans are counted, it will have covered its expenses.

But Foreigner hasn't put any cash back into the till.


For our big productions, we have a contract with Theatre Publications to actually publish the book. They have the right to sell some of the advertising, so they underwrite a large portion of the printing bill. So those big 32-36 page full color programs don't cost us very much. And we are able to sell advertising to help defray some more of the costs.

But our smaller shows and educational programs are not covered in the contract. One-Acts and Young Performers' Theatre isn't expected to draw large audiences, and we'd never recoup the cost of the big programs without selling a lot more advertising than we've been able to do so far. We've only had a couple of volunteers step up to sell ads, and they've had marginal success. (though they've been more successful than I was when I tried doing it for a living in Las Vegas!)

We were able to have the programs for One-Acts printed for $200. When I asked about doing the Big Bad programs, and I was ordering only half as many, the quote was $250. That was a pretty steep increase. And we're cash tight.

So, here is a specific need for donations or sponsorships. We need to raise enough cash to cover printing the program for Big Bad, and we need some additional cash to cover the cost of printing flyers and postcards and doing our other marketing things. If we can raise $500, we can do 500 black and white, 8 page programs and have color postcards and flyers printed. If we can raise $750, we can have the programs in color. For $1,000 we can do 16 pages in color.

(No. We're not in danger of closing up shop. We have a temporary cash shortage. But we do still have a long way to go before we'll be financially comfortable and able to reach our goals. I always look at these little situations as opportunites. Lets see if we can raise some cash to meet this need! As an educational program, this is one of those things that has value beyond the price of admission.)

So, I'm going to ask you to either make a donation, become a sponsor, or help us find some sponsors for Big Bad Musical. (BTW, I already have one $50 pledge... From one of our friends in Holladay!) The deadline to submit the program to the printer is Monday, so don't procrastinate.
UPDATE: As of 11:40 this morning, I have received a committment from one Friend of the Empress for a $50 - $100 donation, but she won't be able to make it until June 25 when she returns from Brazil. Another of our friends has agreed to put a full page ad in the program. And finally, we've received a $200 donation through Google Checkout. That's $325 we've raised so far. Lets keep going!
UPDATE: Got an email from Joline a few minutes ago. Kathy Wilcox just made another donation for $100. Kathy you Rock!
UPDATE 6/9/2008: Jan Lowder just donated $100 via Google Checkout! This is awesome!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Sponsor needed for Young Performers' Theatre.

We need a sponsor for Big Bad Musical. We need about $500 to cover some printing costs. If you can help or if you know of someone who can help, please let me know.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Super Star Volunteer: Joline Walgamott

I had hoped I'd never have to write this particular blog post. And I'm sure I'll catch hell from Joline when she reads this; I don't think she wants this disclosed, but I'm going to disclose it anyway.

It's not that I don't want to sing Joline's praises. Joline is one of the most wonderful people I have ever met, and as the Executive Director of the Empress Theatre, she has been a tireless volunteer. She has taken on an enormous job and made the Empress work. Joline and Rod have put so much of themselves into OHPAA and the Empress Theatre; much more than most of you will ever know.

Many of the folks who come to play at the Empress come to do the fun things; either to be on stage in a show, or to watch a performance. But some of us have taken on the, "its a tough job, but somebody has to do it" functions of the Empress. The Executive Director position is one of those jobs, and Joline is one of about five folks that have carried OHPAA and the Empress Theatre's water so the rest of us could have fun. Joline has put in many, many 60 hour weeks for us, and both she and Rod have sacrificed things in their personal lives to make the operation work. The Executive Director merits a salary of $100,000; Joline has been doing that work for 18 months for ... zilch.

But now the chickens have come home to roost, and I feel that I have failed Joline in my efforts to raise operating funds. You see, on Monday, Joline had to start a paying job at Discover Card in order to help support her family and recover some of the financial resources she and Rod have put into OHPAA. The financial burden of supporting OHPAA became too much for the Walgamotts. As a result, Joline will have less time available for her ED duties, and that work is going to have to be done by others. There is actually discussion of Joline stepping down as Executive Director.

I'm going to put this bluntly: OHPAA needs to raise about $250-300,000 to reach its 2008 operating goals. We need to raise about $50,000 fairly soon to maintain our production quality for the remainder of the season. Part of the goals includes salaries for about six people that carry the load so the rest of us can have fun. If you love the Empress Theatre, or if you love Joline, as I do, then click on the donate button to the left, or if you can't make a cash donation at this time, then help me to raise the money by volunteering your time to help with fund raising and marketing.

Do it right now while you're thinking about it.

Friday, May 30, 2008

OHPAA Long Range Capital Plans

Rod, Joline and I (and Nolan for a few short minutes) met on Wednesday with Bob Bailey, a consultant, and a delegation from the county working to develop Salt Lake County's "Cultural Arts Master Plan" to discuss the future of OHPAA and the Empress Theatre.
We gave them a tour of the Empress Theatre and the Magna Hardware building, discussed what we've accomplished so far and what we plan to do in the future.
As some of you may already know, the Empress Theatre is the only live theatre serving the west side of Salt Lake County (HCT, located on 2200 W is actually east of the geographical center of the valley.) The only other live performance venue to serve the west side is the Usana Ampitheatre in West Valley City. The purpose of our meeting was to ensure that OHPAA and the Empress Theatre are included in the master plan so that we don't get bypassed as arts development monies are appropriated and locations for venues are chosen.
As part of the discussion, we talked about OHPAA's longer range plans. We still need to purchase the Empress Theatre from Leo Ware's estate beofre our purchase option expires in August. We are also working on purchasing the old Magna Hardware building right nextdoor to the Empress. That building includes the parking lot to the west and the alley easement that runs from the Empress to 9180 West and the building that currently houses Walgamott Realty. Further down the road, but not much further, we are looking at acquiring the old Dyches Drug building across the street.
The hardware building will be rennovated for use as a set construction shop, costume shop, storage and possibly some office space. We might also open the upstage wall of the Empress Theatre stage to communicate with the hardware store building to allow us to move scenery back and forth between the two buildings rather than take it through the lobby as we do now.
The 6000 square foot main floor of the Dyches building would be used as a rehearsal hall, classroom, reception area, and possibly a small eatery and gift shop. We could also use that building as a black box theatre or for non-play type performances like our show choir or for events like dances. (Despite the overwhelming preference for an outdoor party with live entertainment, I still want to have a formal gala. Probably in the winter. Fortunately, we can do both!)
Finally, the parking lot west of the hardware store would be paved and marked, while the alley behind the Empress Theatre and the hardware store would either become additional parking or would be landscaped for outdoor events. And we'd probably add the parking behind the Dyches building as well.
All told, it will take about $750,000 to $1,000,000 just to purchase the buildings and do enough of the rennovation to allow us to open them up. We'll have to decontaminate the meth lab in the Dyches building, tear down that eyesore on top, and fix the roof. And probably double that to actually complete the project. But I think it is well worth the effort for both OHPAA's sake and for Magna's.
These plans are still in the development stages, and haven't even been voted on by the Board yet, but I thought folks would like to know what we're looking at in the future.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Family Friendly Standards

One of the things OHPAA prides itself on is production of "family friendly" live entertainment. So I was a bit surprised when someone commented that they thought our current show, The Foreigner, "violated OHPAA's standards." I've never seen The Foreigner any where else, so I don't know if other productions of it have included offensive content, but I have no problem taking my children to see the Empress Theatre's production. In fact, my five under-twelve children have seen it three times. I suspect the comment was made based more on reputation than on the actual production on the Empress Theatre's stage.

The Foreigner does present the Klu Klux Klan and a scheming minister as the bad guys. And it uses deception as a major plot device. And there is the matter of a pregnant debutant...

Okay, so...

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat presents attempted fratricide, slavery, the deception of Jacob, and the summary execution of the baker; not to mention a half naked Joseph cavorting about on the stage. And what about that whole scene with Potiphar's wife?

Shakespeare's classic Much Ado About Nothing is all about deception and, oh yeah, eveasdropping on other people's conversations, though sometimes the conversations were designed to be overheard. The false accusation that Hero is "a committed stale" who knows the comfort of "a luxurious bed" is equally a depiction of a moral question. (Don't even get me started on Midsummer Night's Dream and the whole sleeping with the donkey thing!)

What makes the character of Owen Musser different than the character of Borachio? How is the Reverned David Marshall Lee different than Prince John the bastard. How do we find the scheming of Joseph's brothers to be acceptible on the stage while rejecting the scheming of Owen and David as improper content?

Guys and Dolls is all about gambling and depicts a crap game in a sewer. My Fair Lady uses the deception of passing 'Liza off as nobility and Alfred's panhandling of Higgins. In Oklahoma Curly suggests that Judd suicide and Judd has his "glass," presumably pornographic, in the smoke house; and don't overlook the knife fight and the "trial" Curly goes through after he kills Judd; or anything at all about Ado Annie...

Arranged marriages, Tevye's dream and a pogrom in Fiddler on the Roof; Sound of Music deals directly with the German takeover of Austria, and the von Trapp's flight from the very racist and brutal Gestapo. (As racists working under Hitler, the Nazi's did more damage than the Klan ever imagined. The KKK is ugly, the Gestapo was ugly, efficient, and had state sanction.) Polygamy and sexism are central to the plot of The King and I.

Yet each of these shows is considered a "classic" of American Musical Theatre.

Where and how then do we draw the line? What content is objectionable? What content is acceptable?

OHPAA is actually in the process of developing a formal set of standards, and we'd like your input as to what they should be.

Please leave your comments, but I ask that you follow a few simple rules: first, if you are going to comment on Foreigner, tell us if you've seen the Empress Theatre production of The Foreigner or if your comments are based on some other production. Second, please explain why you think a particular bit of content is objectionable as family entertainment, and whether or not you would consider it objectionable in other contexts. Finally, no dis-ing a show just because you don't like it; keep the comments centered on what type of content you consider appropriate for families and what you consider inappropriate.

I won't promise to post all coments, but I will promise to pass all on-topic comments on to the board and the standards committee. And I will post all comments that further a healthy discussion. And lets all keep in mind that not everyone will agree on every point.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Dance the night away or big picnic in the park?

Would you rather dance the night away or chill out at a big picnic in the park with friends? Over the last month, there have been more than 100 visitors to this blog, but only 12 of you have voted in the poll in the left margin. There are five days left, go register your vote. Do it right now!
The big picnic is in the lead at the moment, followed a close second by the formal gala.
While I'm on the subject... Who'd like to help plan either of these events?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Memorial Day: Profiles in Valor

Toward the end of our run of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, I had the privlege of putting on my old Navy uniform as we bid Douglas Butts, a member of our orchestra, "fair winds and following seas" as he will be departing shortly for Navy bootcamp. My own daughter, Lessa, will be leaving within a couple of weeks to Army Reserve bootcamp as well. We've had some fun with these farewells, and this is a good thing. But we must remember that these two, and many like them, are potentially going in harms way.

This Monday is Memorial Day, a day originally set aside during the Civil war to decorate the graves of our nation's war dead. Those brave men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect the freedoms we hold dear. I would like to share with you an article by Mark Alexander that I received in email this morning. We may not agree with all of Mark's politics (I have to reprint the whole thing), but I think we will all be edified by reading the citations he quotes from four recent Medal of Honor adwardees, each of whom gave the ultimate sacrifice for their comrades and for us. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13):

Profiles in Valor—Memorial Day 2008
By Mark Alexander (The Patriot Post
It is not surprising that many Americans no longer observe Memorial Day with reverence. Schools no longer teach civics, the courts exclude God (officially) from the public square, and the Leftmedia and malls “celebrate” Memorial Day with commercial sales.

Indeed, Memorial Day has been sold out by many.

Founding Patriot John Adams wrote, “I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it will cost to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the gloom I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is worth more than all the means...”

But is it?

Indeed it is.

Fortunately, millions of American Patriots still reserve Memorial Day to honor the service and sacrifice of our fallen countrymen, who donned the uniforms of our Armed Forces with honor and under oath to defend of our Constitution and the cherished liberties it embodies.

On 7 August 1782, General George Washington instituted the first formal military award of recognition for “any singularly meritorious action.” It was a purple cloth heart, the predecessor of the now-familiar Purple Heart, which is awarded to any member of our Armed Services who is wounded or killed in combat or combat-related actions. For this reason, the decoration carries the profile of George Washington.

But our nation’s supreme military award was instituted in 1861. That award is the Medal of Honor. (No, it is not the “congressional” Medal of Honor, and, no, it is not “won.”)

Some 3,400 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen have been awarded the Medal of Honor “for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.” Most have received this award posthumously.

On this Memorial Day, four young men who served in Iraq and Afghanistan will not be at the malls, nor will they be at the family barbecue.

These young men are not much different from others who have served in the past or those serving today in our nation’s Armed Forces but for the fact that they responded to extraordinary circumstances with extraordinary courage.

They are Corporal Jason L. Dunham, USMC; Master-at-Arms Second Class Michael A. Monsoor, USN; Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith, USA; and Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy, USN.

Their Medal of Honor citations read:

DUNHAM, JASON L. For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Rifle Squad Leader, 4th Platoon, Company K, Third Battalion, Seventh Marines (Reinforced), Regimental Combat Team 7, First Marine Division (Reinforced), on 14 April 2004. Corporal Dunham’s squad was conducting a reconnaissance mission in the town of Karabilah, Iraq, when they heard rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire erupt approximately two kilometers to the west. Corporal Dunham led his Combined Anti-Armor Team towards the engagement to provide fire support to their Battalion Commander’s convoy, which had been ambushed as it was traveling to Camp Husaybah. As Corporal Dunham and his Marines advanced, they quickly began to receive enemy fire. Corporal Dunham ordered his squad to dismount their vehicles and led one of his fire teams on foot several blocks south of the ambushed convoy. Discovering seven Iraqi vehicles in a column attempting to depart, Corporal Dunham and his team stopped the vehicles to search them for weapons. As they approached the vehicles, an insurgent leaped out and attacked Corporal Dunham. Corporal Dunham wrestled the insurgent to the ground and in the ensuing struggle saw the insurgent release a grenade. Corporal Dunham immediately alerted his fellow Marines to the threat. Aware of the imminent danger and without hesitation, Corporal Dunham covered the grenade with his helmet and body, bearing the brunt of the explosion and shielding his Marines from the blast. In an ultimate and selfless act of bravery in which he was mortally wounded, he saved the lives of at least two fellow Marines. By his undaunted courage, intrepid fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty, Corporal Dunham gallantly gave his life for his country, thereby reflecting great credit upon himself and upholding the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

MONSOOR, MICHAEL, A. For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as automatic weapons gunner for Naval Special Warfare Task Group Arabian Peninsula, in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM on 29 September 2006. As a member of a combined SEAL and Iraqi Army Sniper Overwatch Element, tasked with providing early warning and stand-off protection from a rooftop in an insurgent held sector of Ar Ramadi, Iraq, Petty Officer Monsoor distinguished himself by his exceptional bravery in the face of grave danger. In the early morning, insurgents prepared to execute a coordinated attack by reconnoitering the area around the element’s position. Element snipers thwarted the enemy’s initial attempt by eliminating two insurgents. The enemy continued to assault the element, engaging them with a rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire. As enemy activity increased, Petty Officer Monsoor took position with his machine gun between two teammates on an outcropping of the roof. While the SEALs vigilantly watched for enemy activity, an insurgent threw a hand grenade from an unseen location, which bounced off Petty Officer Monsoor’s chest and landed in front of him. Although only he could have escaped the blast, Petty Officer Monsoor chose instead to protect his teammates. Instantly and without regard for his own safety, he threw himself onto the grenade to absorb the force of the explosion with his body, saving the lives of his two teammates. By his undaunted courage, fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of certain death, Petty Officer Monsoor gallantly gave his life for his country, thereby reflecting great credit upon himself and upholding the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

SMITH, PAUL R. For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty: Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with an armed enemy near Baghdad International Airport, Baghdad, Iraq on 4 April 2003. On that day, Sergeant First Class Smith was engaged in the construction of a prisoner of war holding area when his Task Force was violently attacked by a company-sized enemy force. Realizing the vulnerability of over 100 fellow soldiers, Sergeant First Class Smith quickly organized a hasty defense consisting of two platoons of soldiers, one Bradley Fighting Vehicle and three armored personnel carriers. As the fight developed, Sergeant First Class Smith braved hostile enemy fire to personally engage the enemy with hand grenades and anti-tank weapons, and organized the evacuation of three wounded soldiers from an armored personnel carrier struck by a rocket propelled grenade and a 60mm mortar round. Fearing the enemy would overrun their defenses, Sergeant First Class Smith moved under withering enemy fire to man a.50 caliber machine gun mounted on a damaged armored personnel carrier. In total disregard for his own life, he maintained his exposed position in order to engage the attacking enemy force. During this action, he was mortally wounded. His courageous actions helped defeat the enemy attack, and resulted in as many as 50 enemy soldiers killed, while allowing the safe withdrawal of numerous wounded soldiers. Sergeant First Class Smith’s extraordinary heroism and uncommon valor are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the Third Infantry Division “Rock of the Marne,” and the United States Army.

MURPHY, MICHAEL P. For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as the leader of a special reconnaissance element with Naval Special Warfare Task Unit Afghanistan on 27 and 28 June 2005. While leading a mission to locate a high-level anti-coalition militia leader, Lieutenant Murphy demonstrated extraordinary heroism in the face of grave danger in the vicinity of Asadabad, Konar Province, Afghanistan. On 28 June 2005, operating in an extremely rugged enemy-controlled area, Lieutenant Murphy’s team was discovered by anti-coalition militia sympathizers, who revealed their position to Taliban fighters. As a result, between 30 and 40 enemy fighters besieged his four-member team. Demonstrating exceptional resolve, Lieutenant Murphy valiantly led his men in engaging the large enemy force. The ensuing fierce firefight resulted in numerous enemy casualties, as well as the wounding of all four members of the team. Ignoring his own wounds and demonstrating exceptional composure, Lieutenant Murphy continued to lead and encourage his men. When the primary communicator fell mortally wounded, Lieutenant Murphy repeatedly attempted to call for assistance for his beleaguered teammates. Realizing the impossibility of communicating in the extreme terrain, and in the face of almost certain death, he fought his way into open terrain to gain a better position to transmit a call. This deliberate, heroic act deprived him of cover, exposing him to direct enemy fire. Finally achieving contact with his Headquarters, Lieutenant Murphy maintained his exposed position while he provided his location and requested immediate support for his team. In his final act of bravery, he continued to engage the enemy until he was mortally wounded, gallantly giving his life for his country and for the cause of freedom. By his selfless
leadership, courageous actions, and extraordinary devotion to duty, Lieutenant Murphy reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

In my lifetime, I have been honored to know five men who have been awarded our nation’s Medal of Honor. To a man, they are among the most humble Patriots I have ever met. To a man, they have told me that they did nothing more than the men next to them would have done, but for fate, it was their turn to act.

All five of those men are now in the company of their Creator. Each of them could claim 2 Timothy 4:7: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

Monday, 26 May, is Memorial Day. Please set it aside in reverence for all those who have served with honor and are now departed. And please join me for a moment of silence at 1500 hours your local time, for remembrance and prayer.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Eyes Have It

A trip back to the silent film days of the Empress Theatre... This short clip is definitely "eye catching"

The actress is Colleen Moore, and the clip is from the 1926 movie, Ella Cinders

They had a date with fate in ... Magna?

Marketing the Empress Theatre presents two distinct challenges, both of which are summed up in this blog post by Jason Bennion.

Magna doesn't get a lot of respect around here. It began a century or so ago as a company town housing workers for a nearby mine and smelter, and it's never managed to live down its humble roots or its rough-and-tumble reputation. It's certainly not a place you'd think to go in search of an enjoyable night of live theater.


I wasn't expecting much. Utah often seems to be the world capitol of community theater -- the impulse to "put on a show" is one of the strongest threads in the tapestry of Mormon culture -- and I've always reflexively dismissed that sort of thing as the worst kind of amateur-grade fromage.

In short, people don't think Magna has anything cultural to offer, are reluctant to make the drive all the way out here, and they have expectations that our "community theatre" will offer only amateur and mediocre fare.

Jason, who learned about our little secret because he came to support a friend in the cast, then found his expectations to be somewhat over met...

And then the play began. And I was very pleasantly surprised. With the exception of one cast member who seemed to keep forgetting his lines, the caliber of the performances was only slightly below the professional theater I've seen in Salt Lake.

Uh huh. Yep, its like that. Happened to me the same way.
Once the secret gets out, everyone will come to Rick's The Empress. Realizing the importance of the case, my men are rounding up twice the usual number of suspects.

Louis Jason, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship!

Here's looking at you, kid.

(With apologies to Casablanca and a hat tip to Bennion Gardner.)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

"Cognitive Surplus" and Community Theatre

This video presents an interesting point of view about leisure and entertainment. He talks about "Cognitive Surplus." The presentation is about Internet technology, but I think it applies to theatre as well.

The part that struck me as being so relevant to Community Theatre was his idea of a "triathalon." Not only are we "consumers" of entertainment, but we also want to produce and to share.

So, who was cuter, Ginger or Mary Ann?

Music Summer Camps at the Empress Theatre

OHPAA is sponsoring four music camps this summer. The first set of 2 will be between July 14-18, with a performance on July 19th at 1:00 PM. The second set will be between July 28 - August 1, with a performance on August 2nd. The camps are open to ages 12 - 18.

Anna Hunter will be the music director for the camps. Each camp will be 4 hours/day with one camp in the morning and the other in the afternoon, and will last for 5 days. There is room for 15-20 participants in each camp. There will be a $75 tuition cost for each session that includes the camp, t-shirt, snacks, performance and a CD of the performance.

The camps will take place at the Empress. The performances may or may not be at the Empress Theatre. We're still working through some conflicts on the performance location. Each camp will have a different theme, and anyone wanting to participate in more than one camp is welcome to do so.

Call the box office at (801) 347-7373 to register or for more information.
The photo is of Tomaso Angotti, Alfonso Cairo, and Filippo Notarianni, a Magna based Italian performing combo from the 1920's.

Monday, May 19, 2008

New Items in the Gift Shop

We've added a few new products to the Empress Theatre's online gift shop, including the cute li'l fella to the left.

  • Among the new stuff:
  • Joseph T-shirts, light and dark
  • Joseph Mug
  • I Love the Empress Theatre Mug
  • I Love the Empress Theatre T-Shirts
  • 2008 Empress Theatre Season Clock
  • I Love the Empress Theatre golf shirt
  • I love the Empress Theatre ball caps
  • I Love the Empress Theatre tote bag
  • I Love the Empress Theatre Kids stuff like Onsies and bibs.

If there's something that you'd like to see here that we haven't done yet, let me know. We can put any of the shows or other artwork on any of the products, and there are still other products we haven't put up yet. If we have enough interest in these products, we will upgrade our store to be able to offer more than one of each product at a time.

Go check it out. Let us know what you think.

Value Beyond the Price of Admission - My view

Okay, I guess it's time for me to answer my own question, and say what I think the value beyond the price of admission is.

Lets start with the value of the price of admission. That value is the value of the entertainment; the value of seeing the show on the stage, complete with all of the ooohs and ahhhs and teary eyes and belly laughs. The value of the one time experience. I may want to share that with a friend, and so I will buy my friend a ticket and come see the show again. I feel that the entertainment is worth more than the price of the ticket and drop some cash in the donation box or send in a check. But all of these are things that are included in the price of admission.

But the one time experience doesn't justify tax payer funded subsidies or large grants from philanthropic organizations. As I reframed the question, what is it about some performing arts programs that allows them to compete with cancer research or public education for funding? What is the common thread? Here then, is what I think...

Things like medical research or education or environmental science or poverty programs are worthy philanthropic areas of focus because they seek to improve the quality of life. Some, like environmental science or education, seek to reach the broadest possible scope; while others like poverty reduction or medical research, seek to improve the quality of live for a select sub-group of the human population. Yet even with the most tightly focused field, we all gain because we push forward the field of human knowledge. An idea or discovery in one area often translates into advances in other areas as well.

Whether you believe that Man was created by deity or evolved from a primordial sludge, one thing we can agree on is the one of the more remarkable things about human beings, which sets them apart from all other forms of life on Earth, is the use of language. All animals can communicate with each other, but only Man uses language to communicate ideas. In fact, the ape named Ape from George of the Jungle aside, Man is probably the only creature that thinks in terms of ideas. We not only think and communicate ideas, but we have developed the ability to record ideas and save them for people that come after us. So ideas, and the ability to communicate those ideas, is what makes Man unique, and also gives Man both the ability to rise above a base existence, and the ability to befoul his existence.

Were it not for this ability in Man to create and then communicate ideas, then the medical research, the poverty program, the environmental science, and education would not be possible. Is it not then, extremely important to support the further development of both ideas themselves, and the means through which they are preserved and communicated? And since Man can both elevate and debase himself depending on which ideas he chooses to pursue, is it not in the best interest of Mankind to support the higher ideas?

Mortimer Adler, one of the chief editors of Encyclopedia Brittanica, calls it the "great conversation." He collected close to a hundred of the best works of classical literature, from Plato to Shakespeare to Freud, in to a large set of books he calls "The Great Books of the Western World." Each of the books was chosen because it makes a major advance in human thinking; each book is a classic in its field. But books are only part of the story... and not always the right way to preserve or transmit an idea.

Theatre, Dance, Opera, and Symphony (I didn't chose these categories... they came from a comment in the Salt Lake Tribune), and in fact each of the fine and visual arts, embodies both a means of communicating ideas and a means of preserving ideas. Performance actually came before the written media, and it is likely the oldest means of transmitting and preserving ideas. All of these prompt us to use our brains differently than we might otherwise. And by stimulating our brains differently, prompt us to look at our worlds differently; they encourage us to create new ideas.

So, to summarize, the performing arts are a means of preserving and communicating classic ideas that are part of the Great Conversation, and stimulating new ideas that will advance that conversation. They are worth the support of governments and the donations from wealthy foundations because they not only improve the human condition, but because they preserve and advance the mechanism that makes all other improvement to the human condition possible. They are not just a part of what humans do, they are what makes us human.