IYKYK. The writers, actors, musicians and production team fully deliver on the title’s premise in Acting Society of Salt Lake (SLAC)’s SLACabaret: down the rabbit hole — enjoyable, sparkling, invigorating and chic like a brand new pair of white sneakers 😉😈.
Indeed, 2022 is the year that SLAC’s summer production has successfully established itself as the company’s new tradition. For more than 40 years until 2019, SLAC savored the fruits of its summer production with Saturday Voyeur, a precious mix of political satire and musical parody. Then last year, after the pandemic break, SLAC launched a different summer show with SLACabaret, which wisely shifted the comic perspective to the sociocultural quirks of Utah. This show, drawing on certain tropes from 1970s disaster movies, was set at Salt Lake City International Airport and revolved around a young woman who first arrives in Utah for an interview with hires and eventually meets a cast of characters who have captured the delightful idiosyncrasies. Utahns.
Written by Olivia Custodio, Emilio Casillas and Michael Leavitt, the 2022 show blossoms beautifully as a cohesive musical parody with a heartfelt storyline carrying an epiphany that the motley cast of characters share. A clever mix of one of Stephen Sondheim’s most popular Broadway musicals (In the woods)by Lewis Carroll Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Utah’s predilection for multi-level marketing ventures focused on essential oils and natural beauty products, down the rabbit hole sets the benchmark for SLACabaret as a proven platform for the company’s summer productions, at least for the foreseeable future.
The fictional ōilCON is rendered with flawless credibility. The writers translate their deep sociological observations of essential oil conventions (think dōTERRA) into core characters that they enrich with emotional substance and stories grounded in events and relationships that resonate as familiar and accessible to people. members of the public. Each character’s name also has a parallel identifier, taken from classic Carroll stories. Trudy Smith (Mock Turtle), played by Niki Rahimi, is the show’s ingenue, hoping to find her big break at the convention, but, of course, she has to face a formidable rival, Holly Wood (@queenofhearts), interpreted by T Antoine. Holly is a mega-successful Instagram influencer. Rahimi first captures doe-eyed innocence, then subtle sexual allure in his lyrical soprano range while Anthony virtually brings the show to a halt with his uninhibited twerking and grinding.
Other convention attendees include a married couple – Matt Hatch (Mad Hatter) and Marjorie Hatch (March Hare) – who are joined by a curious third wheel, Dorian Mayes (Loir). The Hatch marriage is on the verge of falling apart because the two disagree about the chilling effects of behavior that conforms to the safe expectations of Utah society, at least as the mainstream culture prefers to see it. Meanwhile, Dorian relies heavily on liquid courage (alcohol) to live and act according to his true gay identity. Aaron Linford Allred and Kim Handa Brown convincingly demonstrate that they could be married in real life, as their marital crisis hits home with its realism. Sean J. Carter turns out to be more than just a loveable drunk, especially when he thinks he’s finally found someone at the convention who could be the basis of a real relationship. Then there’s the cute, lovable pair – Ryker (Tweedledee) and Stryker (Tweedledum) – of Mormon college students who finally come of age, as they try to reconcile their burgeoning sexual desires with maintaining their loyalty to their religious education. Danny Borba and Joseph Paul Branca, respectively Ryker and Stryker, charm viewers, who could be easily persuaded into believing that these actors could be fraternal twins in real life.
There’s Debbie Smith (Duchess) and Alice Smith (Alice), mother and daughter. Debbie is Utah County’s definitive mother, unapologetic about her pride in conservative politics and culture, who worries her daughter has decided to establish her independence by moving to the liberal stronghold of Utah. , in downtown Salt Lake City. Kelsie Jepsen and Daisy Ali Excellent all in their respective roles as mother and daughter, making sure their characters aren’t cartoon cutouts, but unconditionally love individuals who face their own insecurities and realize what to take risk is worth the opportunity to find their own corner of happiness. and satisfaction.
The Cheshire Cat and Abe Tomlinson (Caterpillar) oversee the convention with the intention of helping these struggling attendees with their various personal crises. Sarah Shippobotham is brilliant as Abe, the narrator who is a master of contortion dancing, and collaborates with Annette Wright, who appears on a video screen throughout the show. Wright is a natural comedian who always makes the most of her roles. For example, the image of the Cheshire Cat working on the mixing desk as a DJ sparkles, as Wright savors every generous bit of comic book the writers give him. The spicy-tongued pair of characters knits the storyline perfectly, which lands on the hilarious, cheeky innuendo that punctuates the climax of the second act.
It’s a wonderful cabaret. Cynthia Fleming, as director and choreographer, ties it all together with clever dance breaks that flatter musical parodies, which draw inspiration from pop, Broadway and Disney among others, including a fabulous rendition by Amy Winehouse . rehab. The minimalist instrumental combo on stage lives up to expectations, which includes Leavitt as musical director as well as Nick Fleming and Spencer Kellogg.
The production elements of the show accentuate the mixed pleasures that make up down the rabbit hole, with Gage Williams, Heidi Ortega, and Jesse Portillo syncing up with script details in set, costume, and lighting, respectively. The appearances of the Cheshire Cat are made possible thanks to the work of Michael Francis, projection designer and Kenny Riches, director and editor. The video showcasing the convention’s major product announcement precisely captures the tone and content one would expect to see at a real life essential oil event. Again, the script is a bona fide interpretation.
down the rabbit hole effectively throws out sharp political commentary without letting it overwhelm the gifts of social and cultural knowledge, which shape the characters as approachable, lovable, insecure, humble, and well-meaning individuals. The writers push the idea of essential oil convention without being mean-spirited or ruthless in comedic portrayals of individuals who are typically drawn to promises of wealth, status, and respect by multi-marketing event planners who see such individuals as easy prey. Jokes about Diet Coke, the right-wing’s favorite fast-food chicken franchise, local cultures, anti-vaxxers, and other Utah idiosyncrasies are artfully served on the sidelines. But, they don’t take away from the centerpiece of the offering – a set of sincerely affable individuals, who all look alike in one way or another, trying to find their own comfort zone while giving a sense in keeping with the times of Utah. And, yes, there’s no reason to be ashamed of indulging a little fun, in whatever form you might find appealing.
The show’s run continues through August 21. For tickets and more information, see the SLAC website.