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Home / Articles / Archive / Miscellaneous /  Forever Voyeur
Miscellaneous

Forever Voyeur

A gang of Little Rascals perpetuated the Olympic scandal while monkeys looked on.

By Scott C. Morgan
Posted // September 6,2007 -

“I wanna besmirched by you,” is the song “Sweetcheeks Utah” chirps while she learns how to really impress members of the International Olympic Committee. Oblivious to the whorish nature of her little song and dance, this hopelessly overgrown Shirley Temple is willing to do “whatever it takes” to bring the Olympics to Salt Lake City.

For this year’s edition of Saturday’s Voyeur, authors/directors Allen Nevins and Nancy Borgenicht have hit upon a wonderful allegory to show how we all got sucked into the Olympic-bribery scandal. How else to depict the naiveté of Utahns and their elected officials than to symbolize them as a gang of so-called squeaky-clean kids in a “Little Rascals” takeoff?

But wait, there’s more. Also included is a Faustian battle of good and evil between two demigods who plot for and against “Our Gang” to bring the Olympics to Salt Lake City. Then throw into the mix two wisecracking chimpanzees who hoot out one-liners and know far more than they should. While the concepts behind Saturday’s Voyeur: Our Gang and the Zoodoo Voodoo Follies sound intriguing, their ultimate execution can sometimes be just as messy and hard to follow as the Olympic scandal itself. While all the intelligent and biting laughs that you’ve come to expect from Voyeur are there, the show suffers from its vague and multiple plot elements.

Much of the confusion comes after the prologue when a young Mikey Leavitt inhales too much helium and floats up to Mount Olympus. Whether we’re atop Mount Olympus of Greece or the East Bench is never certain. Just as nebulous in the first act is the group affiliation that demigods Chubsy Ubsey and his rebellious sister Juicy Luci belong to. Do Chubsy, Juicy and its hard-to-please Gorgon band belong to an unknown Valhalla of the IOC? Or are they members of a crooked spiritual kingdom of the LDS church? And why are there two defiant chimpanzee slaves in the background?

If the ambiguity of time and place allows Nevins and Borgenicht to be much more cutting with their commentary than in previous years, Voyeur’s first act leaves the audience clutching for answers. Even though specifics may not seem significant for satire, it would be nice to know the exact target of the bullets being fired. Despite the confusion, one point shines clear: Chubsy bargains with Our Gang (Mikey Leavitt, Vicki Varela, Jan Graham Cracker, DeeDee Corridini, Willard “Mitt” Romney and Sweetcheeks Utah) to try to bring the Olympics to Salt Lake City. Mikey and his Zoodoo Voodoo club then form the SLOC (“Stupid Little Obnoxious Club,” as one chimp calls it) to make the world accept and respect Utah and its people through the 2002 “Mo-lympics.”

When the outcast Juicy appears on the scene to challenge Chubsy, she arrives with a fanfare of profanity and black stereotypes that may surprise even steady Voyeur fans. Lurking in the background is cub reporter Peabody Vanocur who initially stumbles in his attempts to scoop the low-down poop on the gang.

By the time everyone lands down to earth in the second act (at Hogle Zoo of all places), so does Voyeur. What was fuzzy in the first act becomes mostly clear as the Utah satirical pins are set up and knocked down in typical Voyeur song-and-dance style.

But in Zoodoo Voodoo Follies, the cracks in the Voyeur’s typical craftsmanship are more visible—despite all the legitimate laughs that pour from the show. Without another musical’s template to parody and spice up with local embarrassments (like previous Voyeur editions of The Phatman of the Opera or Jordan Riverdance), Nevins and Borgenicht’s own original scenarios are more hit-and-miss. One definite hit is their brilliant personification of the state of Utah in Sweetcheeks Utah. Armed with curly red locks of hair, a regressive child’s lisp and a perpetual blank look on her face, Natalie Banks as Sweetcheeks just oozes with blissful ignorance. Her hilarious ode to “Davis County” and ambitions to be a future Miss Utah are pure and guilty delights.

As Chubsy, Duane Stephens carries the appropriate girth and persuasive stage presence to believably lead the Zoodoo Voodoo club astray—after all, he resembles the prototypical Utah elected official in more ways than one. In the deliberately controversial role of Juicy, Toni Lynn Byrd’s performance of a sassy African-American demigod and Olympic critic is pure professional show biz, although you wonder if she is silently cringing each time a scripted racist or sexist epitaph is thrown her way.

Jonathon Phipps is an engaging Mikey Leavitt who bursts with power-hungry energy in his solo “I Want to Be the Man.” But his imposed delivery of lines with his helium voice deflates in humor and effectiveness each time it’s used.

As Happy and Tammy the Chimps, Traci Brewster and Tamara Sleight both smugly carry on with their thankless roles until they get a chance to show off their steel-belted singing voices in the second act. The rest of the company also possess powerful singing voices, though their underwritten roles and lesser song numbers give them fewer chances to stand out individually.

Last year’s design team of Keven Myhre (sets), Jim Craig (lighting) and Catherine Zublin (costumes) is reassembled again to produce fine effects for this round of Voyeur. Hopefully the real SLOC won’t crack down on Craig’s amazing 2002 logo lighting effect, which could hypnotize anyone into believing the Games really are “for the children.”

David Evanoff’s musical direction is polished as he guides the band through musical parody territory ranging from Rent (Olympic “Reasons for Guns”) to The Sound of Music (The IOC’s “Favorite Things”). Choreographer Cynthia Fleming helps move the cast along, especially in the show’s short bursts of dance numbers.

While Saturday’s Voyeur gives us the chance to laugh at all the nonsense that goes on each year in the state, the Olympic scandal seems to have weighed down the usually buoyant tone of the show. But the pessimism and anger is justified. As Voyeur points out, the scars of the Olympic scandal are going to leave Salt Lake City “besmirched” in the world’s eyes for quite some time.

Saturday’s Voyeur: Our Gang and the Zoodoo Voodoo Follies runs until Aug. 29 at the Salt Lake Acting Company, 168 W. 500 North. Call ArtTix at 355-ARTS for tickets and more information.

 
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