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City Weekly Picks: Theater 

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BEST PROP SLEIGHT-OF-HAND



Ten Little Indians, Pioneer Theatre Co.



I was watching the whole time'I swear! The titular figurines adorned a mantelpiece in PTC’s version of the Agatha Christie classic, each one-by-one disappearance signaling the latest casualty of an unknown killer. This reviewer was sure he’d be able to catch the moment at which one of them was slipped out of the way, tipping off the identity of the culprit. But director Bruce K. Sevy somehow always managed to redirect my attention at exactly the moment I needed to be keeping an eye the figures. This guy’s good at helping the guilty party get away with murder. (Scott Renshaw)



BEST LOCAL CARRIE BRADSHAWJeanette Puhich, SLAC’s Bad Dates



The frustrating life of a single woman, the obsession with shoes, the upscale urban wit and endearing neuroses'Haley Walker sure would be at home gabbing with the gals of Sex and the City. As the heroine of Theresa Rebeck’s comic one-character story, the immensely talented Salt Lake Acting Co. veteran Puhich delivered a knockout performance full of warmth. She also demonstrated an uncanny ability to make Rebeck’s punchy dialogue sound fluid and natural, all while bouncing around the room in bursts of nervous energy. It was one of the most recognizably human characters of the theater season'and not just because you’ve seen someone like her on a TV show. (SR)



BEST ARTFUL NATURE



Talking Wales, Utah Contemporary Theatre



On a late April opening night, the rain drizzled weakly to the ground against a dark sky. You couldn’t have asked for a better backdrop through the full-length windows of the Patrick Moore Gallery, where this collection of four monologues by Salt Lake Acting Company dramaturg Mike Dorrell had its world premiere. Stories of Dorrell’s native Wales unfolded with the Salt Lake City weather doing a miraculous approximation of the show’s setting, perhaps giving an extra ring of authenticity to the already wonderful character studies. Who needs a set designer when Mother Nature proves so accommodating? (SR)



BEST A-MAZE-ING SET



Pains of Youth, Tooth & Nail Theatre



Tooth & Nail design guru Rodney Cuellar has been creating wildly innovative sets for the past few years, using light, space and color to create masterpieces of theatrical minimalism. In Pains of Youth, he employed clear, wheel-mounted panels to create a variety of spaces that alternately trapped and blocked the play’s deeply troubled characters. The combination of transparency and solidity gave a complex physicality to the power and intimidation games, and turned the Rose Wagner Black Box space into a life-maze that the characters find it increasingly difficult to navigate. (SR)



BEST PRIEST



Kevin Doyle, SLAC’s Polish Joke



It hasn’t been a particularly good decade for Catholic priests; their involvement in humorous punch lines has generally involved felonies rather than walking into a bar with a rabbi. But the Roman collar got a bit of a polishing up locally with Kevin Doyle’s hilarious performance in Polish Joke as an irreverent priest counseling a doubting teen seminary candidate. Playwright David Ives gave the priest the witty words, but Doyle offered a twinkle in the eye that almost made the cassock look cool again. (SR)



BEST DUDE AS A LADY



Max Robinson, PTC’s The Importance of Being Earnest



Was it a gimmick to put PTC mainstay Max Robinson in a dress and have him play imperious old Victorian aunt Lady Bracknell in Oscar Wilde’s droll comedy? Most certainly. Was it Robinson’s funniest performance in years? Oh Lordy, yes. Lady Bracknell is meant to strike terror in the hearts of her social inferiors'she was played by Dame Judi Dench in the recent film version'and how better to effect that than to cast an actor who stands several inches taller than most of them? Add to that Robinson’s impeccable timing and delivery and you have an earnestly funny performance. (Eric D. Snider)



BEST MALIGNED DECADE



The 1980s



Sure, some people were greedy and egocentric and had benighted attitudes toward AIDS, as in Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, staged at the Babcock Theatre. And maybe it’s true that women in Louisiana sat around in enormous kitschy hairdos saying pithy things to one another in the face of adversity, the way they did in Steel Magnolias at Pioneer Theatre Company. But the ‘80s also gave us Ghostbusters, The Cosby Show, Rubik’s Cube and Duran Duran. So focus on the positive! As Bobby McFerrin used to tell us, “Don’t worry, be happy.” Indeed, Bobby. Indeed. (EDS)



BEST ALARMING COSTUMES



Beauty and the Beast, Pioneer Theatre Co.



No, “alarming” is not a pun on the fact that one of the costumes is a clock. No, wait, yes it is! And it’s a great pun, too! But also, imagine wearing these things: A big, hairy Beast costume, or a large, sweaty clock outfit, or maybe you have to dress up like a giant fork and dance around while singing “Be Our Guest.” The good news is, we got you a part. The bad news is, you’re a spatula, and you will die of heat exhaustion. We’re not even going to talk about the Candlestick’s package-enhancing tights … at least that fabric looked breathable. (EDS)

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