OGDEN, Utah – "Side by side" is more than part of a title from one of Utah Musical Theatre's shows this year. It also describes how the company will stage its first two productions of the season.
For the first time since 2002, UMT will present productions in repertory during the 2005 season – pairing Cole Porter's "Kiss Me, Kate" with the revue "Side by Side by Sondheim," celebrating the music of Stephen Sondheim.
Rather than having one show serve as a bookend on either side of another production, as in the company's most recent repertory season, UMT will stage "Kiss Me, Kate" and "Side by Side by Sondheim" on alternating, back-to-back nights during their run.
UMT's Artistic and Managing Director, Bruce Cohen, says the repertory decision made a lot of sense for the company economically, logistically, and in building connections with the audience.
"I've noticed that a straight stock format can compartmentalize each show; for the company and the audience," Cohen says. "It can become the individual show rather than a company's work that people are buying."
In casting one ensemble for both productions, Cohen focused on hiring talent with high-quality voices to handle the demands of two challenging songbooks that require a great deal of physical and creative work from the performers.
Cohen decided to pair the two shows this season because they comment on each other in very interesting and entertaining ways.
"Both treat human relationships with frank but kindhearted and wise honesty," Cohen says. "The common denominator is relationships and more specifically, marriage. Both shows focus a great deal on marriage, and have a lot of fun with it in the process."
Despite the benefits, staging two shows simultaneously does present some challenges. Careful attention had to be paid to the size of the undertaking and balancing time spent on each production so the performers can be equally prepared for both opening nights. UMT opted for one revue and one book show to help juggle resources and logistics. Cohen credits lots of pre-planning and a sharp administrative staff for keeping track of schedules and hours.
Cohen, who has already begun the process of selecting shows for UMT's 2006 season, envisions presenting shows in repertory again next year.
"Kiss Me, Kate" opens June 17 and runs June 18, 28, 30 and July 2, 6 and 8. "Side by Side by Sondheim" opens June 24 and runs June 25, 29 and July 1, 5, 7 and 9. Both shows will be presented at Peery's Egyptian Theater (2415 Washington Blvd., Ogden).
UMT's third show of the season, "Wicked City Blues," will premiere July 22 and run July 23, 28-30 and August 4-6 in the Val A. Browning Center's Allred Theater on the Weber State University Ogden campus. Performances for all three shows start at 7:30 p.m.
For advance tickets, contact the Dee Events Center Ticket Office at (801) 626-8500 or 1-800-WSU-TIKS or go online at weber.edu/ticketoffice. For more information on the 2005 UMT season, visit weber.edu/UMT.
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