â€œThe Book of Mormonâ€ has been a hit Broadway musical for four years now. Â Mormon parody is certainly not just a Utah thing; it has become a national pastime, winning Trey Parker and Matt Stone nine Tony awards. But they are actually late comers. Salt Lake Acting Company has been poking fun at Mormons for 37 years! So the question becomes, now that Mormon parody is mainstream, what is Salt Lake Acting Company doing to remain cutting edge?
As Cynthia Fleming, SLACâ€™s Executive Producer and this yearâ€™s Voyeur Director and Choreographer, explains; â€œIt usually takes years to bring a musical production to the stage. We do it in months. Every play is an adventure. Weâ€™re changing the writing, lyrics, and delivery right up to the day of the performance.â€ Which creates a certain pressure; Â a â€œfear-factorâ€ that inevitably brings out the best in both performers and the artistic team.
Where the Broadway parody is genericâ€”making fun of Mormon manners, morals, and moresâ€”SLAC’s production is always specific and highly topicalâ€”like an inside joke. That is, only insiders are likely to instantly recognize Gayle Ruzicka as not just a character and foil, but a real person with formidable political clout. This year’s use of the controversy surrounding Kate Kelly’s excommunication requires similar familiarity with the personalities and issues at stake.
The point is that SV does not so much introduce Mormon culture to outsiders as it critiques Mormons for Mormons (and those who live with and among them). The result is always worth the effort. In Flemingâ€™s opinion, Saturdayâ€™s Voyeur provides a unique vehicle that â€œgives a voice to the voiceless,â€ that depicts â€œthe strange dichotomy of being a Utah liberalâ€ This yearâ€™s Voyeur is all about placing the norms of the early church in a modern context to see how they would hold up today.
Imagine that the â€œBig Gunsâ€ of the Churchâ€”Brigham Young, Joseph Smith, and the Angel Moroni, represented by the Temple Square statueâ€”are resurrected only to discover their dirty laundry being aired for all the world to see and mock. Kate Kelly, the excommunicated founder of â€œOrdain Women,â€ is calling on Heavenly Mother to aid her and all women in their petition to enter the priesthood; Brighamâ€™s iconic beard is banned at BYU; and, thanks to the internet, Josephâ€™s 14-year-old bride is no longer a PR secret but grounds for a Child Protective Services referral. Itâ€™s too, too horrifying. But what to do? Can advice from Moses, the Buddha, the Pope, and even Jesus Christ himself help? In the meantime, the â€œHot Shotsâ€ of last yearâ€™s Camp Williams photo shoot scandal are enlisted on the side of truth and justice. As the poster says, they are â€œlocked, loaded, and coming in hot!â€
The production, written each year by Nancy Borgenicht and Allen Nevins, includes a cast of thirteen fearless actors supported by an artistic team, including among others: Cynthia Fleming, Director/Choreographer; Kevin Mathie, Music Director/Arranger; Keven Myhre, Set & Costume Design; James Craig, Lighting Design; and Shea Madson, Sound Design.
The 37th season of SLACâ€™s Saturdayâ€™s Voyeur opens June 24 and runs for seventy performances through August 30 on SLACâ€™s home stage at 168 West 500 North. Call 801-363-7522 for more information.
Merco Local is partnering with Salt Lake Acting Company to host a Localâ€™s Appreciation Award Party & Fundraiser, July 16th at 5:30 pm. All ticket proceeds benefit SLAC, the community and local arts. It will feature popular food trucks, dance lessons, speciality drinks, giveaways, food tastings, and the Saturdayâ€™s Voyeur evening performance at 7:30 p.m. The CEO of the online local business directory, Merco Local, will also present localâ€™s choice recipients with the Innovation & Appreciation Award recognizing the positive impact they have in our community. Entrance fee is $45 for a private party, dinner and a show. The VIP version, $65, includes party benefits, goody bag, and transportation from local sponsors. Tickets can be found at www.mercolocal.com The food truck soiree and party in the parking lot is open to the public at no cost.