Thursday, December 22, 2011

Whose Line Is It Anyway?

One of the things that makes Desert Star unique among theaters is that we allow our actors to improvise, or change their lines, on stage.  This adds a fun feeling that anything can happen during the show.  At other theatres, tampering with the playwright’s original lines is strictly prohibited.  This is not an issue at Desert Star, because we write our own shows.  We have the philosophy that a group of talented comedic actors can take a good script and make it even better. 
One of our actors who really enjoys improvising is Richie T Steadman.  Richie has been performing regularly at Desert Star since 2002, and has appeared in 25 productions.  He’s currently playing the part of Johnny Angel in our Christmas show “It’s A Wonderful Life.” We sat down and talked with Richie T about the art of improv.
“One of the things I love most about improvisation,” said Richie, “Is that all the people—both on stage and in the audience—who make up the chemistry of that moment, will never happen again.  It’s a one-of-a-kind experience.  I also love that improvising garners a response from the other person or actor that is not manufactured beforehand, but is specific to the time and circumstances of the moment.  I think that’s why the audiences enjoys improv—because they see a genuine, unrehearsed moment.”
Richie T with Dan Larrinaga in "Indiana Bones" (2008)

Richie has performed with many comedy troupes in Salt Lake, where he has honed his improv skills. He also studied improv at Second City, a prestigious acting academy in Chicago, which has been the training ground for such famous comedians as Steven Colbert, Steve Carell, Tina Fey, and Jane Lynch from Glee. 
Richie T with Megan Rees in "Pirates Of The Car-rib-eee-an" (2010)

“My time at Second City was great,” said Ritchie.  “The classes I took were essentially a university setting for people interested in comedy. They do sketch comedy, which is what you see during the olio at Desert Star, but they base it on improv.  Everyone comes with an idea of a character and a situation, and then they improv it.  They film what happens, then write down what they discovered while they improved and build shows based on that.  
Richie T with Kerstin Davis in "Spamlet" (2007)

“One of the most important things I took away from the classes is to be present. Be in the moment and recognize what’s going on. Traditional theater would tell you to ignore when something unexpected happens and move on, get past it even.  For instance, if someone drops a tray or there is a really loud noise that everyone can hear.  But improv says to use those elements to help move the story along in a fun way. 
Richie T in "Twilite" (2010)

“One of the most challenging things about improv is knowing when to stop. It can very easily become a game of one-upmanship. Though in some performing venues that can be an appropriate thing, at Desert Star there is a script and a story that needs to be told. The improvised or ad-libbed line is not the focus and can detract from the show if an actor goes over the limit. Finding that line is sometimes a challenge for me personally, but there is definitely a limit.”
Richie T performing Flashdance in the "One Hit Wonders" Olio (2007)
Improv mixed with scripted comedy is one of the elements Desert Star audiences love.  When the audience can tell an actor has departed from the script and is winging it, it creates a unique feeling of anticipation, and if the ad-lib is witty and clever enough, it can bring down the house in a way no scripted moment can.  
You can see Ritchie T Steadman and other talented Desert Star actors performing in our next show, “CSI: Provo,” which opens January 12.  

Monday, December 19, 2011

Season's Greetings From The Desert Star Family

Thank you to all of our Season Ticket holders and patrons for a fantastic 2011 season!  We've had so much fun and we thank you for all your support this past year. We look forward to making more memories with you and your family in 2012!

Come join us for our blockbuster 2012 season!
Click here to get season tickets and laugh all year long!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Pictorial History of Kerstin Davis

Actress  Kerstin Davis, is back on the Desert Star stage this holiday season!  She plays the part of Violet Bick in It’s A Wonderful Life: Winging In The Holidays and audiences are loving her hilarious performance. Kerstin's ability to bring energy and laughs to our shows has made her an audience favorite. Her comedic timing and ability to improvise on stage make her one-of-a-kind! Kerstin is also a very versatile actor who can pull off many different looks and kooky characters. Here's a photographic trip down memory land, featuring some of the hilarious characters and looks Kerstin has had in her 47 shows at Desert Star!

           It's A Wonderful Life  (2011)

Desert Star's Christmas Vacation (2010)

American Fork Idol (2009)        

Wizard Of Odd (2008)

            Spamlet (2007)

GingGrinch: How Newt GingGrinch Saved Christmas (2007)

Pirates  Of The Caribbean 2 (2006)

Kicking The Hobbit: Bored Of The Rings (2005)

Butch Cassidy And The Sunburnt Kid (2002 & 2007)

Hollywood P.I. (2001)

Kerstin's first show at Desert Star
Hotel Utah (2001)

Don't miss Kerstin in It's A Wonderful Life!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Desert Star Kids

This holiday season there are some new faces at Desert Star! It's A Wonderful Life, now playing in both Desert Star Theatres, welcomes 20 delightful child actors to the stage.  These talented performers are sharing the roles of George Bailey's children, Taylor and Zuzu.

And these Desert Star Kids aren't just window dressing. They get to act, sing, and dance, and are getting big laughs from the audience.  To prepare them for their roles, the young actors attended a 6-week acting course taught by actress Kelly Knight, who joined the Desert Star family earlier this year.  In the Desert Star Kids program, the kids received coaching on their singing and acting skills.  They also learned how to deliver a punch line, a necessary skill for anyone performing on the Desert Star stage.  According to Kelly, a side benefit of the program has been the self confidence and new friends they've gained along the way.

So, how is it working out?  "The kids are doing a great job," said actor Justin Berry, who plays the part of Uncle Billy. "They've all worked really hard and are having fun. It's great having them in the show."

And the actors on stage aren't the only ones enjoying the kids.  Here's what some of audience members have been saying:

"I loved the kids in the show.  They were a great addition!"  --Candice Frewin, W. Jordan

"Love the kids—they were so cute."  –DeAnna Ashworth

"Fun to see young kids involved in the production."  --Matilda Grey, Murray

"Enjoyed the kids in the show.  Nice change."  --M. Thomas Jr., W. Jordan

"Love the kids."  --Jennifer Boggess, Tooele

"I liked the addition of the kids at Christmas.  They did a good job!"  --Lorelei Petersen, W. Jordan

"The cast was entertaining and the kids did a great job!" --Kameron & Heather Lyman, Pleasant Grove

The Desert Star Kids program will continue next year, and will provide many opportunities for young actors to learn new skills and perform.  In 2012, we will feature a fun series of youth classes, children's theatre productions for young audiences, and maybe even the opportunity to be featured in another Desert Star show. 

Don't miss the Desert Star Kids in It's A Wonderful Life: Winging In The Holidays!

Click Here to get your Tickets Today!

For more information on the Desert Star Kids acting program, 
call Kelly Knight at 801-857-0037

Friday, November 11, 2011

Desert Star on Good Things Utah

Desert Star Playhouse was invited by ABC4 to appear on "Good Things Utah" this week to publicize our new show, "It's A Wonderful Life," which opens NEXT WEEK (November 17). We asked actor Corinne Adair to share her thoughts on the experience:

When I arrived at the theater at 8:00 am to meet our costumers, I was greeted with warm smiles. I like to refer to Mary Williams and Lynn Funk as my mothers away from home. They did their magic and transformed Jeff Jensen, Kerstin Davis, and me into our characters from “It’s A Wonderful Life.” They calmed our nerves and made us look fabulous, then scooted us out the door. The only thing missing was the sack lunch and kiss on the forehead, though I’m sure they would have provided both if only I’d asked. 

We rehearsed in the car. Thank goodness we had our director, Scott Holman, in the drivers seat--physically and figuratively speaking. It was a short drive to the ABC4 Studios, and a long wait until it was time to film our spot--LIVE on air! (gulp). 
The rest was a whirlwind. Is it over? Did I say the right lines? Was my mic on? Am I wearing deodorant? Was it funny? Do you think anyone saw my knees shaking? How was my hair? I guess I’ll find out when I watch it online. Everyone at the studio was kind and accommodating, especially Roxanne the producer. We enjoyed meeting new people and the fun experience. 
Afterward, we had lunch together. As the four of us sat around the little table, Scott put down his bagel and got a serious look on his face. We all got very quiet and then he said, “If we were a family, this is how it could be every day.” There was a pause then we all burst into laughter. It was funny at the time, but it’s true, Desert Star is like a family.  I’m glad for chances like this, not just to be on TV but also to spend time with the people I love and be a part of the Desert Star family.
Desert Star’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” may be a spoof of the heart-warming movie, but the message remains; it’s all about family. 

Watch The Video Here!

Click Here to get Tickets!

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Actor Diaries

10/31 Winding Down The Fun
by Kelly Knight

As an actor, the last half of a 7-week show run is a mixture of emotions. You are completely comfortable with your character, so the stage becomes your playground for living in the moment. But with each passing performance, a bittersweet taste builds when you know you are counting down to the last day that you’ll get to greet your fellow actors, put on your costume, set your props, and embark on a fun two-hour routine that has become so familiar that for a split second you can’t imagine your life without it.

As I prepare for my last two weeks of playing Elle Woods, I like to pinpoint my favorite parts of the show so I can remember to enjoy them as the show winds down:

1. The enormous boo of the crowd when the ever-sleazy villain Melvin Farkas tells our pianist to “shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhUT UP!”

2. The visible dust rising from the not-too-hygienic Detective Lenny Brillo’s suit every time someone pats him on the shoulder.

3. Judge Judy breaking into an unexpected rap song when the crazies of the court start to make her “lose her mind up in here, up in here…”

4. Giving the nearly hopeless Marsha Clunk a "makeover" (that results in a "makeout!")

5. And of course, my personal favorite, all twenty minutes of the Zombie Jamboree Olio.

With just two more weeks of fun in Legally Brunette, I am ever grateful for the new friends and colleagues I’ve acquired at DSP. Each time I get dressed up for “my first day of my first lawyer job,” I get a little nostalgic knowing I’ll only be taking Elle Woods out on stage a few more times. Lucky for me, I got cast in It's a Wonderful Life, so my fun at Desert Star won’t come screeching to a halt when Legally Brunette closes. With my early-onset Elle Woods nostalgia comes excitement looking to the future with my new family here at Desert Star.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

More Laugh Lines From "Legally Brunette"

There are more great laugh lines on stage!  Don't miss Legally Brunette: Not All Dumbs Are Blonde

Monday, October 17, 2011

Laugh Lines from "Legally Brunette!"

There's a lot more where this came from! Come see Legally Brunette: Not All Dumbs Are Blonde live!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Actor Diaries

10/10/11- Mastering the choreography just in time for opening!
 By Kelly Knight

A zombie themed olio?  AWESOME!  I am an extreme lover of the zombie genre, so I was beyond pumped to begin rehearsing this grand extravaganza.  But when I caught sight of what our choreographer wanted us to do, I nearly had a heart attack: swing dancing.  And I don’t mean gentle, easy partner dancing--we’re talking back flips, aerials, and jumps.  Despite my initial fear, I had to admit it was a really amusing concept to see zombies at a 40’s style swing dance, taking turns to insert their personal stunts into the much loved song “Zoot Suit Riot.”   I was in for some fun.

After several failed attempts and a mild panic attack, I had mastered the “candle stick” move and was getting close to nailing the “around the world.”  But somehow I couldn’t lose the mental image of my head slamming into the floor as I was swung upside down around my partner’s side.  Lucky for me, the move was cut due to costume issues. After a few days of practice, my inner zombie was beginning to get her swing on.

There was one week of rehearsal left, and the thought of learning all of the olio choreography was overwhelming.  With the added challenge of maintaining a zombie character while in the midst of singing and dancing: difficult, but FUN!  When the curtain opened to a live audience for the first time, the familiar and unmatched feeling of performance adrenaline kicked in and pushed all of my dancing nerves aside.  We nailed it.

Legally Brunette is now playing at Desert Star Playhouse with our Zombie Jamboree Olio!
 Click here to buy your tickets today!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Votes Are In And Here Are The Results

We recently asked our audience which Ben Millet script was their favorite. The votes have been cast and here are the results!

Don't miss one of Ben's most hilarious scripts, Legally Brunette: Not All Dumbs Are Blonde, now playing at Desert Star Playhouse!

Buy Tickets Today!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

An Evening You'll Never Forget

Collin Raye returns to Desert Star Dinner Theatre for another series of incredible dinner Concerts! With fantastic food and amazing music, you won't want to miss your chance to see music sensation, Collin Raye, up close and personal! Don't take our word for it, here's what past audiences had to say!

"The BEST experience I’ve had at a concert! Collin Raye’s performance was second to none. Not only was the food delicious, but the venue was incomparable to any other for the sound and acoustics. It was incredible! " Kaylinne Reed

"It was so fun to hear my old favorites like Little Rock and Love Me in such an intimate theater. Even from our seats on the back row,
it felt like he was singing to me in my living room!" Kasey Wadsworth

"My wife has been a big Collin Raye fan since she was a teen,and so for our anniversary, I purchased 2nd row tickets. One word. AMAZING. Our oldest daughter is about the same age as his granddaughter Haylie. Our daughter has special needs and he debuted his song "She's With Me" at the show. Tears streamed down our faces as we listened to a song that explained our emotions exactly. It is a memory I will always treasure." Geoffrey Sagers

"Collin Raye knows how to wow an audience. He sings, dances and gets your blood pumping with his upbeat songs, or melts your heart with his powerful ballads. He is one act worth seeing over and over again." Jennifer Christensen

"My husband and I saw Collin Raye for the first time in November of 2008 and it was a wonderful show. Al died in a terrible accident that December 1st so it was the last concert we saw together. I have made attending Collin’s concert an annual event, attending by myself and sitting in the same seat in the front of the balcony stage left. I just sit there and enjoy the music and remember what it was like have my sweetheart beside me." Karen Christoffersen

"Our experience seeing Collin Raye at Desert Start last year was incredible. We’ve seen him in the past in large venues, and it was amazing being so up-close and personal. We will definitely go again and are also buying tickets as presents for family members!" Scott Stanger

"We ate, laughed, cried, and even danced a little at the Collin Raye concert last year. We all had a great time!" Carolyn Swaim

"In 2010 my wife and I had a very hard year, and to celebrate our anniversary we saw Collin Raye at Desert Star Theater. I was able to get Collin to dedicate "Love Remains" to my wife. It’s a night we will always remember." James Moffitt

" I've been a Collin Raye fan for years. I've seen him several times in concert, but the concert at Desert Star was the best yet. Loved the intimate setting, with just him and two band members. Great food and music. Great night!" Cheryl Ward

"The Desert Star Playhouse provides the perfect setting for a wonderful evening, including a delicious meal and choice entertainment. Collin Raye kept the audience engaged singing his heart-felt ballads and spirited country tunes. My husband and I enjoyed the experience so much that we decided to make it a tradition we'll look forward to for years to come." Carie Erickson

"We are so lucky to have Collin Raye performing right in our backyard at the Desert Star Playhouse each year! His music is timeless and inspirational, and the intimate setting of the Playhouse theater perfectly enhances the experience. His concert will be a tradition for us for many years to come!" Julie Holbrook

"I had a wonderful time at my last Colin Raye concert there!!! I've had 2 brain tumors leaving me with pretty bad hearing. BUT I was able to enjoy the dulcet tones of my fave country singer because your theater is intimate, not too big and echo-y." Compliments to you!! Deb Jacobi

"I have gone to the show for the past 3 years and bring more girlfriends each year. We look forward to it every year!" Shalees Alfonso

"My wife has always been a fan of Collin Raye. I have spent many road trips with Little Red Rodeo blaring through the car speakers. I surprised her with tickets to his performance for our anniversary. The intimate venue makes the experience amazing! We will be doing this again!" Thomas Elegante

"His concerts are entertaining, fun and they just feel good!" Jill Hughes

"We have seen Collin Raye perform at other places but last year we attended his dinner and concert at Desert Star Playhouse. It was an incredible and intimate setting and the food was delicious. With this smaller venue Collin was able to see each of us and interact with his audience in a way that made it very personal." Jennifer Hansen

"We bought tickets in 1995, just before the concert my husband suffered a heart attack. We hadn’t seen him since then, until last year. It was very emotional reflecting back. His music always leaves us feeling more in love than before we started the evening. Thanks for the memories, Colin." Name Withheld

"Collin Raye is one performer who is well worth seeing again and again. We have attended the last two years. He is a consummate entertainer and a warm human being. The eclectic musical mix is fantastic." Pam Blanck

"After hearing Collin perform his heartfelt songs in such an intimate setting two years ago, I went again last year. I can’t wait to repeat the experience this year, too!" Linda Banner

"I have been a fan of Collin Raye for 20+ years now and my sweet husband always makes sure I make it to the Utah concerts. Last year was my favorite because the setting was so intimate as opposed to a big concert hall. I really loved the personal insights that Collin shared, and the food was excellent too! We'll see you in November." Julie Harward

"The Collin Raye concert at Desert Star was absolutely amazing! The dinner theater is so warm and intimate, the parking is great, and the sound and up-close seating is spectacular! Since attending the Collin Raye concert, I've sworn off the huge, cold ampitheater and
sports-arena concerts!
" Todd Hale

"My experience in the past with Collin Raye concerts goes like this: Awesome. I have always enjoyed watching Collin perform. When he talked about his granddaughter was being treated at Primary Children's Hospital I knew how he felt because I myself was treated there when I was young. Music is magic and it can help miracles to happen." Selar Tyler

"Wow! How lucky am I that I have been able to see Collin Raye at the Desert Star Playhouse for last three years. He’s a wonderful singer and performer and in this cozy atmosphere he makes you feel like a friend. BTW, the food is scrumptious! Loved it!!" Anita VanLieshout

"Desert Star Playhouse (exciting, great food) plus Collin Raye (genuine, amazing entertainer) equals a superb evening of enjoyment and fun. Two years ago as Collin was ending his concert and shaking hands with those on front row he missed me, but looked back at me saying "this songs for you." Name Withheld

"Colin Ray at the Desert Star is not just a enjoyable concert, it is an experience that will keep you humming and tapping your toe for months to come. For the last three years we have attended Colin’s annual intimate unplugged concert, and we will be back this year." Kim Cassett

"Collin Raye is one of my favorite artists, and he does an amazing job at Desert Star. It's such an intimate concert and GREAT experience! I love how Colin seems to engage everyone in the theater! It's better than any large production could ever be!" Jennifer Gunn

"Seeing Collin Raye at Desert Star was like attending my own private concert. The size of the theater creates an intimate bond with the performer. Collin Raye is an amazing and heartwarming entertainer, so having seats in the front row was truly incredible being that close. The evening was the ultimate birthday present: being serenaded, smiled and winked at by Collin." Maureen Farrell


THAT SAYS IT ALL!" Dawn Southwick

"I LOVE Collin Raye. The first year I went I swear he winked at me. BEST present ever!! The theater is intimate and feels like he is talking and singing just for me. I LOVE that you have been able to get him to come for my birthday every year!!" Marcia Thomson

"What a great experience to see Collin Raye so up close and personal. He has still got it! The energy in the room is magnetic! We loved the food, and the dinner theatre enviroment just can't be beat. I took my husband last year as a birthday gift and it definitely gained me new levels of awesomeness in his eyes!" Tiffany Dickson

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Actor Diaries

Editor's Note: Actor Kelly Knight is a newcomer to Desert Star Playhouse. She'll be playing Elle Woods in our next production: Legally Brunette. We asked Kelly to keep a diary of her experiences at Desert Star, to give our friends a backstage look at what’s it’s like to work here. Here is Kelly’s fourth entry...

9/22/11  The Laughs Keep Coming During Rehearsal!
By Kelly Knight

We've been in rehearsal for "Legally Brunette" for a week and a half now, and each day is a new and exciting experience!  One of the things that makes Desert Star unique is that they allow their actors to improvise, or change their lines.  This adds a fun feeling that “anything can happen” to the show.  Our director, Scott Holman, told us from the very beginning that we had some wiggle room for adding our own flare to the script. Coming from a traditional theatre background, I had no idea what this meant, but I certainly quickly found out!  I was blown away by the talent and ad-lib masterpieces of my fellow cast mates. 

When you put a bunch of comedy actors together for 4 hours a day, you are guaranteed to make a good script even better!  It is so fun to hear hilarious improv-ed lines that throw the entire cast into uncontrollable fits of laughter.  If the ad-libbed lines are funny enough, they make the cut and Scott tells us to leave it in the script for good. 

With one week before we open, I fully expect to continue laughing at each rehearsal, and I can’t wait to see how hilarious our show will be for opening night! 

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Actor Diaries

Editor's Note: Actor Kelly Knight is a newcomer to Desert Star Playhouse. She'll be playing Elle Woods in our next production: Legally Brunette. We asked Kelly keep a diary of her experience at Desert Star, to give our friends a backstage look at what’s it’s like to work here. Here are Kelly’s second and third entries...

9/10/11 My First Read-Through of Legally Brunnette. Lots of Kooky Laughs!
By Kelly Knight

From the 2005 Production of Legally Brunette
Since I had never seen a show at Desert Star, Mary Williams (Assistant Director) arranged to squeeze my husband and me into a performance of Hunk-cules just to get an idea of what Desert Star is all about. I was excited to see what I had gotten myself into, and I was also pumped to venture into new territory because, believe it or not, I had never been to a dinner theatre before.

My husband gave me the old elbow in the side when we walked in and saw the other patrons; I had made him wear slacks, and I’m glad he fought me on the tie; otherwise we really would have stood out. Wow, one more point for Utah: casual theatre attire. Again, liking this...

I immediately dug the personal vibe of the show--actors talking to us from the stage, and the pianist coaching us on when and how to respond to sound cues. The result was a bunch of unassuming joes (my husband included) laughing their heads off and clapping in participation.

When the show ended, I stopped by the box office and picked up my script for Legally Brunette. I waited till the next morning to sit down and read through it, and I couldn’t stop laughing. It was one joke after the next, made by exaggerated and zany characters whose conviction was as strong and those of soap operas. This was going to be fun! When I finished reading the script, I quickly became eager to start developing my version of Elle Woods; I had forgotten how fun an eternally optimistic character could be. I had seen Legally Blonde a million times, so I had a few ideas to get started with. And, in a line toward the end of the script, Elle describes her own voice as “sucking helium.” This got me going in a direction. With 3 days before my first rehearsal, I was ready to own Elle Woods.

9/12/11. The First Rehearsal for the New Kid on the Block

From the 2005 Production of Legally Brunette
I got to the theater 30 minutes early for the first day of rehearsal because I wanted to make a dazzling first impression with my punctuality. But my grand entrance was ruined. I couldn’t figure out how to get inside! I tried both the front and back door, but with no luck. Did I get the time wrong? Luckily I stumbled upon a random guy in the parking lot who realized I was the new kid, and he informed me that “the theater isn’t open yet. The actors always go in through that stage door over there.”

Other than a very friendly fellow actor who already knew me by name, I was the first person there. As the other actors trickled in, I felt more and more like a newbie. Everyone knew each other by name, and greeted each other the way actors do after about 6+ weeks of cast bonding. I realized I would have a lot of catching up to do on the social scene, seeing as most of these folks had been working together for years.

As soon as rehearsal began, things felt familiar: First was the script read-through. I got a real kick out of hearing the other actors’ interpretations of their characters--especially the funny voices of the court room witnesses. Next was stage blocking. I’m pretty sure the humor of the show doubled as our director, Scott Holman (a very funny guy with a warped brain) coached us on where and how to move throughout the script, adding many of his own funny bits along the way. Not to ruin any show surprises, but my favorite of these moments is a bit where a witness removes an invisible object from my hair and eats it, shortly after being compared to a big ape. :)

In the last hour, we had time for a quick music rehearsal. I had never worked with spoof/satire versions of familiar songs before, so I was having a blast listening to my favorite Broadway classics be converted into comedic musical interpretations. All in all, the first rehearsal was a lot of fun.

We'll have one more rehearsal this week week, and then we've got a 4-day weekend to get off-book; aka, memorized.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Actor Diaries

9/8/11 Auditioning at DSP
By Kelly Knight

Actor Kelly Knight is a newcomer to Desert Star Playhouse. She’s just been cast in her first role, playing Elle Woods in our next production: Legally Brunette. Kelly is talented, energetic, and fun, and we think our audiences are going to love her. We thought it would be fun to have Kelly keep a diary of her experience at Desert Star as an on-going feature, to give our friends a backstage look at what’s it’s like to work here. Here is Kelly’s first entry…

Ahh! Two hours to pull together an audition! Why hadn’t I checked the Desert Star webpage sooner? I knew they didn’t hold auditions often, so when I saw the posting at 5 PM on audition day, I quickly called to see if they could squeeze me in. They had a slot at 7:05.

Let me back up and give you a quick background story: I am brand new to Utah—officially moved here three weeks ago. Why? After performing with a children’s theatre company in South Korea for three years, I had met my husband and was ready to “settle down.” But where? I was from Montana, he was from Mississippi and, before heading to Asia in 2008, I had been “living the dream” as an actor in New York City. This meant my life was basically as follows: wake up, audition, go to my night job, go to bed. This would continue for a few months before I’d book a gig, then I would be shipped off to a random theater across the country, finish out a three- or four-month contract, return to NYC, and start the routine all over again. That is, until I landed the Korea gig.

After three years of international adventures and meeting the handsome American English teacher who later became my husband, the NYC routine just didn’t sound that appealing anymore. And I wasn’t about to drag my new husband into it. He’s not a “theatre person.”

We both liked the idea of settling down out West, somewhere that we could ski all winter, hike all summer, and where I wouldn’t have to give up my performing career. My parents had moved to Utah while I was overseas, and after some Google research told me that SLC had multiple professional theaters, it wasn’t too hard to convince me that This Is The Place.

OK, back to the audition. I grabbed my repertoire book, dashed to my car, and practiced on my drive to Desert Star. This certainly wasn’t my first rodeo with a last-minute audition, but it was an important one--my first in Utah. I arrived 5 minutes early, was greeted by friendly audition monitors, and waited for my turn.

Hmmm, weird. This wasn’t like a New York audition. Everyone was smiling and friendly, wearing blue jeans, and had such a casual attitude. I did my little song and dance (literally) and I was done. In and out in 5 minutes--that sure beats waiting all day for the chance to “maybe” be seen. I was liking Utah theatre already!

I got a call the next morning from Desert Star, and I had landed the gig: Elle Woods in Legally Brunette. Sweet.

Legally Brunette opens September 29, 2011. Click here for tickets.

Friday, September 2, 2011

More Laugh Lines From "Hunk-cules!"

Come hear all the laugh lines!  Click here to buy tickets to "Hunk-cules!"

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Laugh Lines From "Hunk-cules!"

There are a lot more laughs on stage!  Click here to buy tickets to "Hunk-cules"

Monday, August 29, 2011

2012 Season Promises Laughs Galore

Desert Star Playhouse announces its 2012 season of hilarious shows. With a line-up that includes parodies of beloved Hollywood movies, hit TV shows and one of the biggest hits on Broadway, there will be laughs for the whole family. Season tickets go on sale August 30th for current season ticket holders and September 13th to the general public.

Desert Star Playhouse has built its reputation on producing hilarious musical parodies and this season is no exception. Featuring four brand new comedies and the return of an audience favorite, the 2012 season will have something for everyone to enjoy. Artistic Director, Scott Holman, shares his thoughts about each of the shows for next year.

(January 12–March 24) Holman: “This hilarious parody of the TV series, transplanted to Utah County, is full of laughs. One of the crime scene investigators is a soccer mom who has her kids waiting in the minivan while she investigates the crime scene. It was a big hit the first time we did it, and our audience voted to bring it back.”

(March 29–June 8, 2012) Holman: “Every time we do a ‘Princess Bride’ joke in one of our shows, the audience erupts with laughter. So it was a no-brainer to give the Desert Star treatment to this beloved family classic.

(June 14–August 25, 2012) Holman: “Our audiences love it when we make references to Utah culture in our shows. If you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at? This mash-up of monsters and Utah culture, with some over-the-top Desert Star comedy, will have everyone rolling in the aisles!

(August 30–November 10, 2012) Holman: “We’re going to the magical land of Oz, and we couldn’t be more excited! There’s a new villain in town who’s even worse than the Wicked Witch. The witch will have no choice but to team up with her former enemies to fight the new villain. This promises to bring big laughs next year!”

(November 15–January 5, 2012) Holman: “’My Big Utah Wedding’ has been a huge hit with Desert Star audiences. So we’re doing a new show with the same characters, only this time they’re dealing with all their nutty relatives coming to town for the holidays. It’s going to be a lot of fun, but with some heartwarming moments.

You can get your season tickets by calling 801-266-2600.
For a mailable form Click Here.

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Story Behind The Characters

Justin Berry is a familiar face at Desert Star Playhouse.  In fact, since 2006, he's appeared in every Desert Star show but ONE!   His first appearance on the Desert Star stage was in the 2003 production of Jekyll and Hyde.   Justin frequently acts as emcee to announce the birthdays and anniversaries, and the audience members enjoy his personality and wit.  He is currently playing the role of Prince Diaredes in Hunk-cules: I’m Too Sexy For My Toga.  With his over-the-top energy, he's bringing laughs galore to our audiences.  Justin also played the role of Dax (the boyfriend) in Desert Star's original production of My Big Fat Utah Wedding, from 2004 to 2005.  This show has the distinction of being Utah’s longest running show, and Justin played the part of Dax longer than any other actor.  By day, Justin works as the Graphic Designer for the theater.  He designs the playbill for each show, the website, and all the print advertising you see for the theater.  He's an important member of the Desert Star family.  

After seeing his latest character in Hunk-cules: I’m Too Sexy For My Toga, we wanted to get some insight into how he works as an actor, so we asked Justin to share his process for creating crazy characters.  He explained that, as part of his actor training in college, he learned to develop an extensive backstory for his characters.  A backstory is a tool that actors use to help define and build characters, including family history, major events that happened in their lives, and other information the audience never really sees, but which helps the character come alive.  Justin follows this practice for every role. While in rehearsals, he develops an extensive backstory for the character to help shape what the audience sees onstage.

Here are four of his favorite backstories:

Prince Diaredes in Hunk-cules (2011)
••• For this villainous role, I wanted to create something different from other villains I've played. So I set out to create a story that would explain why the prince would do the things he does. I decided he was nothing more than an overgrown, spoiled child.  He was one of those kids who were bullied at school and developed a Napoleon complex as a defense. He did not have  a strong father figure, but was raised by his mother, who gave him everything he ever wanted. He was an only child and used that to his advantage at every opportunity. From his mother he also got a keen sense of style and love for all things garish. His hobbies include torturing insects, accessorizing, craft projects, pottery and making faces at himself in the mirror.

Tin Man in Wizard of Odd (2008)
••• This was one of my favorite roles to play. We took the Tin Man and mashed him up with Simon Cowell of American Idol fame. What was really fun to explore with this character was what made him so jaded, yet lovable at the same time. Again, I went back to his school days and realized that though he was not picked on, he was just not accepted. He was a boy made of tin and this made him different. The other kids in Oz were scared of him and basically avoided him. He fell in love with a girl who would reject him and break his heart. It was this tragic event that drove him to become the hollow shell of a man that he did. The real fun then came when I started to layer on the attitudes and caustic nature that is Simon Cowell. This show was running during American Idol season, and every week I would watch the show and write down all of Simon's over-the-top, mean or crazy comments. I would then work them into the show. The other actors really had no idea what was coming next.

Colonel Flanders in My Valley Fair Lady (2008)
••• As far as backstories go, this is probably my favorite one. His life started in the deep South where he was raised with his sister. Soon the family moved to Utah so his father could buy a honey production company. After his parents died in a tragic bee accident (don't ask), he and his sister were set for life financially. They sold the honey business and decided to live a perfect Southern Utah. But boredom soon set in for this Southern gentleman. So what to do? It was on one of his many outings to the zoo, that he realized he could start his own fast food chain, and Kamas Fried Moose was born. When he failed to find a market he also tried Kamas Fried Steer, Kamas Fried Deer and Kamas Fried Badger. It was not until he discovered pigeons while walking through the park that Kamas Fried Pigeon was hatched and he had a winner! But even that was not enough for this socialite. So he would take trips to the mall or other public places to be able to see how everyone else lived. He also fancied himself a bit of a spy, and while on a "stake out" would put on his trench coat over his white suit, add dark glasses, and a white fedora.  He would then drive his white Rolls Royce (complete with a gold-plated pigeon as a hood ornament) to his destination, where he would park across the street and watch his target, feeling he was perfectly inconspicuous and sly!

Deadeye Dawson in Butch Cassidy and the Sunburnt Kid (2007)
••• Here was another great villain that I was gifted to play. His life did not start in the Old West, but rather across the great pond. England. He was a bully and a cheat while he growing up, but never a very good one. He often got beaten down by the people he was trying to bully. Such was his lot in life. He tried to make money in a series of failed business and ventures (some honest, some not so honest). But all of these things failed. He wanted to be rich and famous and he wanted to be revered if not feared for his power. He also loved the dime novels about the American West and wanted to be a cowboy. But it soon became very clear that he would never have these things if he stayed in his homeland. So he decided it was time to face a new frontier and he charted a course for America. It was on his long boat ride that he came up with the plan to take the Old West by storm. He named himself Deadeye Dawson in order to strike fear in the hearts of those he would meet. The wannabe cowboy was born. He lost his sight in one eye when he lost a bet on a train and got poked in the eye (a stupid bet to make for sure.) So he became a two-bit gambler and part owner of a saloon. But he really never did amount to much!

So, what was the one Desert Star show Justin hasn't performed in since 2006?  Star Wars Episode MDCCLXXXIV.  After performing in My Big Fat Utah Wedding for 18 months, he wanted to take a well-deserved break.  But after one show, he was ready to get back on the stage again.

To purchase tickets to Hunk-cules: I’m Too Sexy For My Toga, click here.