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Pioneer Theatre Company: Laughing Stock

In his farewell year as artistic director of Pioneer Theatre Company, it’s understandable if Charles Morey is getting a little sentimental about his own contributions, and about his time here in general. And perhaps that’s what makes Morey’s own Laughing Stock such a perfect penultimate production for this season.

Originally produced at PTC in 2001, the play draws from Morey’s experiences in New England summer-stock theater, telling the story of an artistic director named Gordon (Jack Koenig) struggling to keep afloat a summer-theater company operating out of a 200-year-old barn. He’ll do whatever it takes to keep the operation running, even if that means trying to mount three simultaneous productions in repertory, and bowing to the demands of his one big financial donor.

Along the way through his backstage farce, Morey delivers a few stock characters: the dizzy ingénue (Lesley Shires, pictured left); the cocky, horny leading man (David Christopher Wells, pictured right); the overly intense young director (Kymberly Mellen); the cynical veteran (Jeff Steitzer). He draws plenty of inspiration from Noises Off!, but the wonderfully absurd situations—most notably the chaotic centerpiece Dracul [sic], Prince of the Undead production, with its failing props and flubbed sound cues—make it hilarious in its own right.

Yet ultimately, it’s also a deeply affectionate look at what draws so many people to the theatrical life: the chance to create a makeshift family, if only for several weeks at a time. With his trademark sharp comedic timing and an open heart, Charles Morey has let us all know how it’s going to feel to say goodbye. (Scott Renshaw)

Laughing Stock @ Pioneer Memorial Theatre, 300 S. 1400 East, 801-581-6961, through April 7, $25-$44.

Date: Mar 29, 2012
Phone: 801-581-6356
Address: 300 S 1400 E, Salt Lake City, 84112
Where: Pioneer Memorial Theatre