That’s Voyeur-tainment! 

A musical salute to 25 satire-riffic years of Saturday’s Voyeur

In 1978, a strange piece of Utah musical theater history was born, partially inspired by another strange piece of Utah musical theater history.


Saturday’s Voyeur, originally created by Nancy Borgenicht and Michael Buttars, began as a satirical look at the Mormon cultural institutions of family, mission and marriage, among other subjects. Its title came from Douglas Stewart and Lex de Azevedo’s Mormon musical Saturday’s Warrior, which debuted in 1973 as a production by California college students. Though the production of Saturday’s Voyeur for many years followed the same Mormon family through the same basic story-line, in 1996 it became an all-new annual production, targeting the hot-button topics of the previous year through broad caricatures and parodies of pop songs and showtunes. The 2003 installment, scheduled to run June 17 – Aug. 24, marks the silver anniversary of this still phenomenally popular show, which has been co-written since 1991 by Borgenicht and Allen Nevins.


The basic chronology of events presented in this history of Saturday’s Voyeur is accurate. An obscene amount of creative license has been taken with absolutely everything else. Any resemblance between the characters described here and those who in real life bear their names or fit their job descriptions is purely coincidental.


“That’s Voyeur-tainment!”

SCENE:1974, Wyoming’s Wind River Reservation for the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Nations.

NANCY BORGENICHT, wearing a parka, stands in the middle of the open plains on a snowy night. She stares skyward.


NANCY: This can’t be what life had in store for me. It’s 30 degrees below zero here. And it’s April. I know my husband needs to be here for his medical residency, but this can’t be where I’m meant to live out my days. I feel like I need to be part of the theater. I need to … sing … [orchestra swells]

“Parody”

[to the tune of “Memory” from Cats]

Midnight

And I can’t feel my fingers

There’s a place that I long for

And a quest I must take

I was born there

Mem’ries strewn like brine shrimp at my feet

On the shore of the Salt Lake

Parody, it has run in my family

We would mock in the old days

Everything was fair game

Back in Utah I used to know what comedy was

Could the parody be the same?

All the souls who can’t withhold their public moralizing

I know they’re needing, why they’re fairly pleading

For public satirizing

Daylight, I must go back to Zion

There’s a theater calling

There’s a role I must play

And perhaps there will even be a parody, too

Say things no one else will say

All the windbags just demanding serious deflatings

Even when it

Is someone in the Senate

With high approval ratings

Leave here, it’s too easy to freeze here

I’ll return to the parody

And a state that might thaw

If I go there I might just know what happiness means

Though it’s likely against the law

NANCY leaves the stage, which turntables to reveal a partly constructed theater set with wood and lights strewn about. Various ACTORS chatter and work. MICHAEL BUTTARS sits among them. NANCY enters, now sans parka.


NANCY: I can’t believe that three years have passed so quickly, without even so much as a montage sequence.


MICHAEL: Well, time does fly when you’re having fun with Salt Lake Acting Company. There’s nothing like putting on a show in a Unitarian Church hall, then striking the set every Saturday night so they can hold services the next morning.


NANCY: And I have had fun, Michael. But this place—Utah, the whole dominant culture thing—it gets a little tough to take sometimes when you’re looking at it from the outside.


MICHAEL: Tell me about it. I grew up Mormon. And I’m gay, which pretty much means I’m on the inside looking at it from the outside. Boy, the stories I could tell you. …


NANCY: You know, those are the stories we should tell. We need to put them together, give it some humor. Like the Gentile version of that Mormon musical sensation, Saturday’s Warrior.


MICHAEL: Nancy, I think you may be on to something there. Let me help you. …

“The Choosers of the Right”

[to the tune of “The Music of the Night” from The Phantom of the Opera]

MICHAEL: Fate has brought you to the land of many a Saint

To this kingdom where though booze exists

You can’t use it … use it …

You have come for performance, and sets to paint

And yet since you’ve returned, you would think

“I should learn of these people,

Their Right and the way that they choose it … choose it ...”

Worship captures hours of every Sunday

Families gather in the home on Monday

A stalwart missionary returns home keen to marry …

Planning temple weddings in September

Every one a proud GOP member

Learn about their ways, their reforming of the gays

Gather every tale and anecdote in sight

And learn about the choosers of the right

[NANCY sits at a desk and begins writing. Pages from a calendar fly by on an overhead projection screen.]

Spin a yarn of a family and its faithful dreams

Take a chance on a topic so taboo

Close your eyes, it’s a show you have to do

Just don’t count on a rave D-News review

[NANCY leaves the stage, still writing busily in a notebook. The ACTORS engage in preparations for the show]

Wedding photos on our invitations

Not expecting sold-out show ovations

But when the show appears

On the Day of Pioneers

It could be a Gentile beacon in the night

This story of the choosers of the right

[AUDIENCE MEMBERS have been gathering and sitting down during this verse. They react with great enthusiasm, laughing and clapping. As the song ends, they stand and cheer loudly. NANCY enters]


NANCY: I can’t believe it! It’s a huge hit! We’ve had to add more shows to keep up with the interest, and it’s all been through word of mouth. And I couldn’t have done it without you, Michael.


MICHAEL: But now you’ll have to, Nancy. It’s time for me to move on. But maybe this show can be the little part of me that stays behind.


NANCY [tearfully]: Can I really put this show on again? Do you think it will have the legs to last beyond this year?


MICHAEL: It’s always been within you to do this, Nancy. Just remember that the people need the release of societal tension Saturday’s Voyeur provides.


MICHAEL [reprising, as he slowly backs off the stage]

You alone must make this show take flight

This story of the choosers of the right

[NANCY exits, emotional. The audience continues to laugh and cheer as the overhead screen shows the passage of years—1978, 1979 and so on through 1991. Various local and national headlines from each year begin to appear on the screen along with the year. NANCY re-enters, accompanied by ALLEN NEVINS. The AUDIENCE MEMBERS gradually exit.]


NANCY: Thirteen years … where do they go when you don’t have an overhead projection screen to show you?


ALLEN: Voyeur is as strong as it ever was—maybe even stronger.


NANCY: Thanks to your help, Allen. I could tell that it needed something different this year, something to shake up the routine. And adding your voice to this year’s show gave it that extra something.


ALLEN: Aw, I’m just hitching a ride on an institution. But I suppose we do make a pretty good team.


NANCY: Yet with all the success this show has had—giving Salt Lake Acting Company cash and a place on the local theater map—doesn’t it irk you that it still gets


that accusation?


ALLEN: Oh yes … I know that accusation …

[Conservatively dressed MORMONS enter, stern-faced, as the music begins to play

“Anti-Mormon”

[to the tune of “Mamma Mia” from Mamma Mia!]

They’ve been making this trash for a decade or more

Who else can they insult that they haven’t before?

Look at them now with the smutty jokes

I don’t know how their offenses could be more clear

It gets worse with each passing year

One more gag about our marital bliss

I’m not sure that we can take more of this, whoah whoah

Anti-Mormon, there they go again

Why why must they be such haters?

Anti-Mormon in that show again

I’ll, I’ll call my legislators

Yes, they make lots of money

But we know it’s not funny

Why why can’t these people let it go?

Anti-Mormon, in that awful show

I, I know that I would never go

I’ve heard things ’bout their songs

That I just can’t believe

If this state is so bad

Then why don’t they just leave?

We like it here in our happy place

Isn’t it clear that this Voyeur has got to go

’Cause my bishop has told me so

One more joke about our cultural quirks

Somehow someone thinks this “comedy” works, o-o-o-oh

Anti-Mormon, oh my heck again

Why why can’t they be more tasteful

Anti-Mormon, no respect again

I, I think that it’s disgraceful

I’ve never watched a minute

I’ve heard there’s swearing in it

Why why must those people make it crude?

Anti-Mormon, it’s an awful shame

That we must endure the mocking

Anti-Mormon, they’re the ones to blame

And we feel it’s simply shocking

[SALT LAKE ACTING COMPANY EXECUTIVES enter and stroke their chins as they listen to the complaints]


SLAC EXEC #1: Maybe they have a point, you know.


SLAC EXEC #2: And even if they don’t have a point, it could still be hard for us to expand our fundraising efforts if people think Salt Lake Acting Company is anti-Mormon.


SLAC EXEC #3: Maybe it’s time for a change.


SLAC EXEC #1 [to NANCY and ALLEN]: It’s been a nice run, but we think it’s time to take SLAC in a different direction.


SLAC EXEC #2: So we won’t be bringing Saturday’s Voyeur back for next season.


NANCY: But … Voyeur has been your biggest money-maker. It’s what made Salt Lake Acting Company’s name.


SLAC EXEC #3: It’s just business, you understand. We don’t want to disappoint all those people who want to see Nunsense IV: The Revenge.

[The EXECS exit]


NANCY: Well, I guess we’re done.


ALLEN: Not so fast. You practically put this show together by yourself back in the day. We could do it again.


NANCY: But where? Could we find the right place?


ALLEN: You know we can. We can put on a show! And if we do it, people will come …

“To Voyeur”

[to the tune of “Tomorrow” from Annie]

The people will come to Voyeur

The poets and the ACLU lawyers

And what’s more

We’ll find a new home for Voyeur

Put some glossy photos in the foyer

By the door

When you put on a show

You know it’s scary

But is it time to quit?

“Bullshit,” I say!

We’ve gotta hang on to Voyeur

’Cause the people need a crap destroyer

And we are

Oh Voyeur, my Voyeur!

We’ll keep on with Voyeur

We’ll just do it in a bar!

[ALLEN and NANCY walk with the turntable as the set rotates to show Green Street Social Club, where the AUDIENCE MEMBERS are once again standing, cheering and applauding.]


NANCY: You were right, Allen, it worked! Two years putting on the show in a makeshift space, and we’re still turning people away.


ALLEN: I wonder what the folks at Salt Lake Acting Company are thinking now about their decision …

[SLAC EXECS enter on their knees.]


SLAC EXECS [in unison, shouting]: Please come back!


SLAC EXEC #1: We’re going broke! We need Saturday’s Voyeur!


SLAC EXEC #2: We’ll give you everything … total creative control.


SLAC EXEC #3: You can run the whole show. What do you say?


ALLEN and NANCY [together]: We’ll do it!


[SLAC EXECS jump up and down, squealing with glee. They exit.]


ALLEN: I can’t believe we’re going back. It’s almost like we have no more worlds left to conquer.


NANCY: We could keep doing this same show every year and people would come. The story and the structure have been basically the same since we started. Maybe it’s time for us to push the envelope a little.


ALLEN: Let’s just start from scratch. Wipe the slate clean and give the people a brand new show every year.


NANCY: Can we really do it?


ALLEN: You know we can. Because we’ve got something to bring to these people.

[AUDIENCE MEMBERS slowly begin joining them on stage, forming a single line behind ALLEN and NANCY as the overhead screen spins through the years from 1994 to the present.]


NANCY: It’s still the same crazy town, with all the same crazy clashes between the insiders and the outsiders. We’ve got the Olympics coming, liquor laws to mock, a porn czar to skewer. A year won’t go by without something making us angry enough that we have to laugh at it. We just have to remember that our goal every year should be …

“Fun”

[to the tune of “One” from A Chorus Line]

Fun, that’s we why still do it

Every single tortured rhyme

Fun, that’s why we go through it

Every year at this time

One smile and we understand just what we’re here for

It’s strange enough here to last for a whole lot more …

Fun, giving them the finger

When they’ve earned the entire hand

And the people understand it’s fun, son.

Oooh, re-lieving all our tension

Do we really have to mention

It’s all fun?

[The AUDIENCE MEMBERS sing in chorus]

We sit down in our seats

And we know

That you’ll give ’em a jab, give ’em the works

All of the losers, abusers and jerks

We sit down in our seats

And we know from the

Catchiest tunes, silliest jokes

These are special folks

Laughter, don’t stop

That’s just the quality we’re after

When things look abysmal, dismal

They bring the attitude, merrily skewering

We sit down in our seats

And we know we’ll be

Smiling along, clapping for more

When they go out there to even the score

It’s all so entertaining

Not off the cuff

Can’t get enough of it, love it

It’s all plenty of fun

They are one of a kind …

[Back to NANCY and ALLEN]

Fun, never showing mercy

Speaking the unspoken thought

Fun, plaza controversy

Hey, we’ve got our next plot!

One right wing nut and we’ve still got a job to do

We’ll give ’em hell but you know that we’ll still give you …

Fun, when this state seems crazy

Someone needs to keep you sane

So you know that we’ll remain for fun, son

’Till the sun puts out its fires …

AUDIENCE:

Or at least till Hatch retires …

ALL:

We’ll have fun!

[CURTAIN]

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